Answers to Common Breast Health Questions

Premier Health providers answer frequently asked questions about breast health.

How do a woman’s breasts change throughout her life?

Dr. Heck discusses a woman’s breast changes throughout her life. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.


From puberty on, a woman’s breast changes in a variety of ways throughout her lifetime, according to Premier Physician Network[Link to] (PPN) physicians and the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

During puberty, when the ovaries are producing little to no estrogen, breast tissue is very dense. As the teen years progress and menstruation begins, the breasts change and develop the ductal system, according to PPN physicians.

Before and during menstrual periods, the breasts often feel swollen, tender, or painful, according to the NCI. More lumps can be felt during this time because of the extra fluid in the breasts. These changes go away after the menstrual cycle.

With pregnancy and breastfeeding, higher hormone levels will again cause the breasts to change. They will swell as the ductal system prepares for milk production during and following pregnancy, according to the NCI.

As women move toward their 50s, enter perimenopause, and then menopause, their estrogen levels will fall, which causes the breasts to become more fatty, according to PPN physicians. This can cause the breasts to sag. Also with the approach of menopause, breasts can feel tender even without the beginning of a period, according to the NCI. And after menstrual periods stop during menopause, mammograms will become easier to read as the breast tissue becomes less dense.

Talk to your doctor for more information about how a women’s breasts change throughout her life.

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Source: Thomas Heck, MD, Gem City Surgical Breast Care Center

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