You might have been longing for bigger boobs your whole life or were perfectly happy with the size of your bust…
Either way, it can be disconcerting and uncomfortable when your cups start spilling over and you’re nowhere near puberty.
Bigger breasts in the perimenopause? Nope, you’re not the only person feeling more like Dolly Parton by the day.
Boob growth with age is normal, with one in five women experiencing a noticeable increase, with many ballooning by two sizes or more.
Once more, your shifting hormones are responsible for this bodily change. As oestrogen goes AWOL, breasts go through a process called ‘involution’ where milk glands shut down and this tissue is replaced by fat.
Weight gain also causes an accumulation of fat cells, and some of these camps out in your bra. Many women get bigger all over as their oestrogen stores get smaller.
Add these factors to the twins changing in size and shape as gravity pulls them down and tissue becomes less elastic. Then consider the general hormonal havoc that makes them swell with fluid at random times in the month.
It’s no surprise then that your bosoms no longer feel like your own by the time you hit the menopause.
Whether you’re thrilled or horrified at your newly inflated friends, there are several things you can do to make yourself more comfortable as your boob size shifts.
CHECK OUT THE CHANGE
It’s normal for your boobs to be tender, and shift in size and shape as your hormones hop about. These symptoms are unlikely to signal anything more serious.
But if your breast skin changes thickness or puckers, your nipples invert or have a discharge, you’re in real pain, you have a lump, or one breast looks significantly different than the other – then see your doctor immediately. These symptoms could sit outside the perimenopause and be cause for concern.
BUY THE RIGHT BRA
If you’re still stuffing your breasts into last year’s bra – it’s not going to be comfortable. Or good for your back either, which may need more support now.
Go and get yourself measured. While you’re at it, treat yourself to some lovely new lingerie. Whether your style is sporty or floral, go all the way and get matching knickers too. Then go home and chuck out all your old, faded bras and pants. We dare you.
The perimenopause (and menopause for that matter) can be a troubling and exhausting time. You deserve some gorgeous and, most importantly, well-fitting underwear that properly supports your frame, and helps you feel good in your clothes and about yourself.
SOOTHE THE SORENESS
All these changes can make your tatas tender.
So give them some TLC by wearing an extra supportive or sports bra at night. We sleep but gravity never does. In fact, researchers found that 85% of women with breast pain found relief by wearing a well-fitted sports bra during the day too.
Sixty percent of people in one study said that gently massaging achy boobs with over-the-counter pain relief helped. Or you could try primrose oil or vitamin B and E supplements, as these can all reduce the inflammation that goes hand in hand with boob swelling.
Check out our other top tips on coping with sore and tender breasts.
If you’re taking HRT…
HRT contains hormones that stimulate breast tissue and so breast tenderness and growth can be a side effect of your hormone therapy. Speak to your doctor if you have any concerns about this.
WATCH YOUR WEIGHT
As we’ve mentioned, it’s common for women to pop on a few pounds as their bodies adjust to the perimenopause and menopause.
If you realise your breasts aren’t the only part of you that’s swelled in size, then please don’t attempt to lose weight fast. This will only take fat away too quickly and make your mammary glands sag.
Slow, steady weight loss at the rate of one or two pounds a week is easier to maintain and much better for your body.
IF BIGGER BOOBS AREN’T FOR YOU
Is your amplified chest causing you distress or physical discomfort on a daily basis? You may be considering a breast reduction via liposuction, or a breast lift, where excess skin is removed, and soft tissue is reshaped to raise your girls back up.
But before you rush off and demand a reduction, make sure you are fully menopausal – i.e., you haven’t had a period for 12 months. Otherwise, further hormonal changes could keep altering the shape and size of your breasts.
If you’re determined to go under the knife, make sure you go to a reputable clinic and have a consultation with your surgeon ahead of making a decision. We recommend you read this guide from the NHS on choosing a practitioner.
HINTS AND TIPS FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO SUPPORT SOMEONE THEY THINK MAY BE ENTERING OR IN MENOPAUSE
So their breasts have gotten bigger recently, but these newly inflated friends and their feelings may need to be handled carefully.
OUR ADVICE TO THEM
As a starter for ten, we’ve recommended that they invest in some new bras and get measured while they are wearing at it. Wearing a properly fitting sports bra to bed may also help.
We’ve also mentioned how important it is that they check their breasts for abnormalities – lumps, inverted nipples and one boob changing size significantly can all be signs of breast cancer.
You may be thrilled that your partner’s boobs are more bodacious… but are they?
Before you set off the party poppers, make sure you’ve clocked how they are feeling about their amplified body parts. Are they comfortable? Are they self-conscious? You may think they look super sexy – but they may feel more like hiding away than breaking out a bustier.
And if their bigger boobs are causing them daily pain or affecting their mental health, they may want to talk to you about having them reduced.
CREATE A WEEKLY MEAL PLAN
Increased breast size can be down to hormonal changes, but often go hand in hand with overall weight gain in the menopause.
Planning meals ahead is a good way to get an overview of what you’re eating and help them manage their weight too, while shopping for the ingredients together and sharing the cooking can take the pressure off.
You could even sign up for a cookery class to learn some healthy new culinary skills and make food fun again.
STOP SNACK-CIDENTS IN THEIR TRACKS
Don’t sabotage their efforts to lose weight by flaunting junk food in front of them or ordering everything on the menu from the local chippy.
Can you forgo it for a while to show your support? It’s totally fair that you should eat what you want but leaving temptations lying around for them to see is probably something they could do without.
Regular exercise is also a key tool for managing weight gain<link to symptom> during the perimenopause and menopause.
Combining something you want to do (spend time together) along with something you need to do (exercise) can be a real game changer.
Partnering up to go for a walk, swim or to the gym is also more likely to help you both stay motivated.
ADJUST THE STRENGTH OF YOUR HUGS
Affection is obviously an important part of any relationship – friendly or romantic. However, if they are dealing with sore enlarged breasts, tight hugs can hurt. Be aware and check in before touching them.
If you’re worried about changes in breast size, you should see your GP who can discuss your symptoms in the context of the menopause.
If you'd like more information, we have put some further references below for you.