The breasts are no doubt among the first parts of the body affected by hormone fluctuations, says Marla Ahlgrimm. They react to a woman’s menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and even menopause. Here, Ahlgrimm offers answers about how the latter can alter a woman’s breasts permanently.
Q: What changes can occur to the breast due to “the change?”
Marla Ahlgrimm: The breasts are complex glands that need estrogen in order to maintain the shape and appearance of youth. As the body’s levels of these hormones are depleted with age, the breasts can lose their original appearance. This is what many women refer to as the “drop zone.”
Q: But don’t some women’s breasts actually enlarge after menopause?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Well, yes, but this is largely due to a slowed metabolism. During menopause, the rate our bodies burn fat goes way down and can cause weight gain if you don’t modify your diet and fitness routines.
Q: Are the breasts of mothers who nurse their babies safe from menopause? Don’t we have more tissues and glands than those that didn’t?
Marla Ahlgrimm: While your milk ducts might have been more active, once the childbearing years are officially over, they shrink right back up, taking with them the fibrous tissue that once supported the extra weight.
Q: Is there any way to delay these unwanted changes?
Marla Ahlgrimm: While you can’t stop it, you can talk to your doctor about HRT – Hormone Replacement Therapy. This type of treatment has been available since the 1950s and has been refined dramatically in the 1970s through today. It involves replacing now missing or fading hormones with new ones that have been created in a lab to perfectly match naturally occurring estrogen and/or progesterone.
Q: Is surgery an option?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Yes.. Breast augmentation is a popular alternative to women headed for their golden years who aren’t quite ready to lay down their (unsupportive) lingerie just yet. It isn’t, however, covered by most insurance companies and can be quite cost prohibitive.