Checking Your Uneven Breasts: What's Normal?
Breast cancer can affect people of all ages and genders. Regular self-examination is crucial, but if you already have uneven breasts, determining 'normal' can be challenging. We're here to explain what's typical in cases of breast asymmetry, its causes, and how to differentiate between natural variations and potential health concerns.
What is Breast Asymmetry?
Breast asymmetry simply means that one breast is different in size, shape, or position compared to the other. It's crucial to understand that mild asymmetry is entirely normal and common among women. It is estimated that around 94% of women and people with breasts have some degree of breast asymmetry.
What Causes Uneven Boobs?
Breast asymmetry can be attributed to many factors, including genetics, hormonal changes, and lifestyle. Puberty, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and weight fluctuations can all play a role in changing the size and shape of your breasts. It's essential to remember that these changes are a natural part of life, and our entire bodies are slightly asymmetrical - it’s not just those beautifully imbalanced boobs!
Breast Asymmetry and Self-Exams
In the Evenly Balanced Blog Breast Care, Comfort and Confidence we covered how we can care for our breasts, including checking regularly for signs of breast cancer. When it comes to breast self-exams, breast asymmetry can complicate the process, so understanding your own baseline is critical. Getting familiar with your perfectly unique breast shape and size differences are what you should focus on during self-exams, so that if a change does occur, you’ll feel confident in identifying it early.
Top Tips For Checking Uneven Boobs
Find Your Unique Normal: Instead of searching for symmetry, concentrate on what's typical for your body. Give yourself plenty of time to get to know your unique breast characteristics - wonkiness and all!
Use a Mirror: Pay close attention to any changes in your uneven breasts. Whilst you self-examine, use a mirror to help you check the bits you can’t see so easily as this can help identify any new, unusual developments or symptoms. It’s important to take note of the look of your breasts as well as the feel.
Keep a Booby Diary: Keep a self-exam diary to record and track any changes over time (monthly is ideal). This can help you identify significant developments or any new concerns. You can use a notes app on your phone or it’s the perfect excuse to buy a cute notebook to keep in your bedroom, bathroom, or wherever you check your boobs. You may also find it helpful to add in any boob-related symptoms during your cycle in between self-exams to help you track what’s typical for you.
We understand that this can feel a little overwhelming. To help you get comfortable with self-examination we recommend using the Breast Check tool on the Health and Her app (psst! it's also great for monitoring menopausal symptoms) or you can get free reminders from CoppaFeel.
What's Normal, What's Not?
You've completed your breast check (yay!), but how do you distinguish between what's normal and what's not? Below, we've outlined common, benign symptoms of uneven breasts, and we'll also explain how to self-examine and recognise symptoms that may indicate breast cancer.
Uneven Breast Size
Normal - Having one breast bigger than the other is entirely normal (and extremely common). There is nothing to worry about if your breasts have grown at different rates, leaving you smaller on one side. If you are nursing, your breasts may settle with one side a little larger than the other, or menopause might cause any asymmetry to become more prominent. Sometimes, breasts are just uneven with no specific cause. This is also perfectly normal.
Abnormal - If you notice a sudden or dramatic change outside of your normal ‘boob to boob ratio’, or if the size difference is due to a new lump or swelling.
Mis-matched Breast Shape
Normal - You might notice one breast positioned differently on your chest or having a distinct shape compared to the other. This may simply be down to how you’ve developed naturally, and it is also commonly seen in post-surgery breasts, where natural tissue ages differently from scarred or operated-on tissue.
Abnormal - If you notice one breast changes from its usual shape, appears to be swollen or is mis-shapen due to a thickness of tissue or a new lump.
Normal - There are many reasons why you might have a pain in the boobs, and there are 2 main types of breast pain (mastalgia). There’s Cyclical, which is linked to menstrual cycle and Non-cyclical which is unrelated to periods and can be heavily affected by lifestyle and nutrition. Coppafeel has lots more information here about the types of breast pain.
Abnormal - Breast pain alone is not a common symptom of breast cancer. However, if it is coupled with another symptom such as reddened or swollen skin, if it is an unusual, persistent pain and focused on one spot within a breast, or if you are simply concerned or unsure, it is always best to check with a healthcare professional.
Uneven Nipple placement
Normal - If your nipples point in opposite directions or one sits higher than the other, this is absolutely normal. Those picture perfect symmetrical nipples are rarely a reality, and it’s totally to be expected.
Abnormal - If you notice a sudden change in nipple placement, shape or if the nipple becomes inverted when it is not usually.
When Should I Seek Medical Advice?
If you notice any of the ‘abnormal’ signs mentioned above or any of following symptoms, you should get it checked with a health professional as a matter of urgency:
Sudden Changes: A rapid and/or significant change in breast size, shape, or texture (such as dimpling or puckering of the skin).
Unusual Pain: Persistent and unexplained pain, especially in just one breast, is worth investigating.
New Lumps: If you discover a new, firm lump or thickening of your breast tissue in one breast that wasn't there previously.
Nipple Changes or Discharge: Any unusual changes in one nipple, like a change in shape, inversion or discharge.
Rash or crusting of areola (area around the nipple): If you notice a rash or crusting around the nipple area or if you experience a persistent itch.
Swelling: If you notice swelling under your armpits or up to the collarbone.
It’s important to remember that if you do find any of these symptoms or notice any sudden changes, that it might feel daunting or even a little scary to seek advice or medical consultation. This is most certainly the time to push past this feeling and be sure you get any anomalies checked out as soon as you can. The earlier any issues are identified, the better chance of timely and effective treatment.
For more in-depth information CoppaFeel has a treasure trove of content, advice and support on getting really familiar with your beautifully uneven boobies. Always consult a healthcare professional if you have concerns about your breast health, even if you suspect it's related to benign asymmetry. Your peace of mind and well-being are always the most important priority.
You’ve got this. Now go check those breasts!