The relationship between a woman and her breasts is…complicated, to say the least.
Don’t get me wrong: boobs are great - they can nourish a living, breathing thing and look freaking phenomenal in a low-cut shirt (or really, any shirt for that matter). But also…they can be annoying AF: the bouncing, the spillage, the nipple hair (why is that a thing though??).
Another pain point (sometimes literally): keeping them healthy. Because let’s face it: Knowing how to treat your boobs right and actually doing it are two totally different things.
To get an honest gauge on how well you’re taking care of your tatas, answer these questions - and if you find you’re doing anything that isn’t totally breast-friendly, maybe change that ASAP - your twins will thank you.
How does your sports bra fit?
Your boobs move around when you work out, and - fun fact - they do it in kind of a figure-eight shape.
They can even travel up to 20 centimetres, according to a study from University of Portsmouth in England, so you really want to wear a bra that offers good support and a great fit to avoid boob soreness down the road.
READ MORE: What Exactly Are ‘Dense Breasts’?
Do you smoke?
It’s a pretty well-established fact that cigarettes are terrible for your overall health, but they can do a number on your boobs, too.
“Any amount of smoking weakens and ages skin by decreasing the blood supply to the skin surface,” says Dr. Michael Edwards, a breast surgeon and president of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.
How often do you slather up your boobs with sunscreen?
The skin over your boobs matters, too. And not only can skipping the ‘screen on the exposed parts of your chest increase your risk of skin cancer, it also opens you up to premature wrinkles and stretched collagen, which leads to saggy boobs, says Edwards.
Quick: What do your boobs feel like?
Turns out, it’s pretty important to feel yourself up on the regular. Doing regular breast self-checks allows you to get a good idea of what your girls feel like normally. Why is that important? So you can tell - and call your doctor - when something feels off.
Are you a yo-yo dieter? (It’s okay, this is a safe space.)
Regularly losing and regaining weight isn’t going to totally screw up your boobs unless you’re losing a lot of weight at once. When that happens, the skin around your boobs will look looser, says Dr. Angela Fitch, of the University of Cincinnati’s Weight Loss Center. Your skin will adjust—unless you’re yo-yo’ing constantly, which might create a less-than-perky appearance over time.
Be honest: How much coffee do you drink?
Don’t get us wrong - coffee is amazing - but OD’ing on caffeine can make your breasts sore, especially if you have fibrocycstic breast tissue - a.k.a lumpier boobs.
If you’re having three or more cups of coffee a day and you just so happen to have boob soreness too, it’s time to think about cutting back.
When was the last time you got fitted for a bra?
Your boobs are vibrant, ever-changing appendages, so it’s 100 percent possible that the size you were years ago isn’t the size you are today. And, if you’re wearing the wrong size, you can suffer from soreness, back pain, and boobs that just aren’t reaching their full potential.
Next time you go to buy a bra, ask the sale person to measure you. You might be surprised at the results.
Let’s talk nipple piercings: Do you have one?
Getting a nipple piercing can open you up for infections and other complications.
“The nipple has openings to the milk ducts in the breast,” says Dr. Susan Boyd. That means if you end up removing your piercing down the road, you could end up with a continuous crusty discharge, she says. (Cringe!)
How do your boobs feel when you work out?
Yes, boobs can increase your odds of breast pain when you work out. In fact, one in three women know the struggle. But getting a supportive sports bra can do wonders. Just think about that next time you’re tempted to sit out a workout due to your tatas.
How do your shoulders look when you take off your bra?
Not only do strap marks hurt like hell, it’s a sign that your bra is too small. Consider going up a size or, better yet, ask for a fitting at your local lingerie store.
This article was originally published in Women's Health SA.