Why Do Breasts Sag ?
Sagging or drooping of breasts is a natural, inevitable process that happens to all women at some point - except to those with fairly small breasts.
The most notable sagging happens with the process called breast involution (see below), but breasts can start drooping a little at any age, because they do NOT have muscles in them. They have ligaments and connective tissue.
When the gravity pulls the breasts down, those ligaments and the skin can stretch, and so the breast then droops. This depends on the elasticity of your skin and of your ligaments, as determined by your genes and diet, and also on normal aging processes. Obviously large breasts will sag easier since the gravity is pulling them down more. When breasts bounce during active sports, such as tennis, those ligaments can also be stretched or even torn. A good sports bra can minimize that effect.
Breast involutionis a process where the milk-making system inside the breast shrinks because it is not needed anymore. This happens either after weaning, or right after pregnancy if the woman does not breastfeed at all, or during menopause. When the tissues inside the breast shrink, and the skin surrounding it doesn't, the breast can look "empty" and saggy. After weaning, a woman's body does usually deposit fat back to the breast (this process takes months), so that breasts will gain their pre-pregnancy size, but sagging usually remains.
Another common cause for sagging is when a woman loses weight. When you lose weight, some of that fat disappears from your breasts. Typically the skin and the ligaments inside the breasts do not retract accordingly, resulting in an 'empty' looking breast that then sags. (You could try prevent this by eating foods that provide extra good nutrition for your skin.)
Note: A scientific study that studied the effects of breastfeeding upon sagging, found that breastfeeding per se did not have an affect upon the sagging. Pregnancy does because of the great physical changes happening in the breasts during pregnancy, but breastfeeding alone did not. According to the study, the following were risk factors for an increased degree of breast sagging: body mass index (BMI), the number of pregnancies, a larger pre-pregnancy bra size, smoking history, and age.
Is it normal to have sagging breasts if you haven't been pregnant?
While many women find themselves with sagging breasts after childbirth/weaning and after menopause (it's the involution at work), quite many childless women also claim that they have "awfully" saggy breasts and wonder if that is normal, or if their breasts are sagging more than most women of their age.
Just keep in mind that sagging happens to all women sooner or later—except those with very small breasts. For some of us, it happens sooner, even without pregnancy. There are even many teens with drooping breasts. It is not that uncommon. Additionally, overweight women have some additional fat tissue in their breasts, which causes them to be heavier and therefore sag earlier than otherwise.
Women tend to be bothered by sagging because they feel it makes them less attractive. However, you might be surprised to learn that according to comments we have received, it is NOT a turn-off to many guys. We women may be overly preoccupied about something that isn't nearly as much an issue with the opposite sex as we might think!
Can you prevent sagging?
Sagging can't be totally prevented. It is an inevitable process because it's the gravity at work. Wearing sports bras during active sports helps prevent sagging, because when breasts bounce a lot during sports, that can stretch and harm the Cooper's ligaments inside breasts.
However, the idea that bras would prevent sagging in general is a myth. For most of us bra wearing can actually increase sagging! This sounds strange, perhaps, but it is based on a few scientific studies. The idea is that when you wear bras, those ligaments inside breasts can atrophy and shrivel away from non-usage. "Use it, or lose it" seems to be at work. The gentle bouncing of breasts when you walk and move can help those ligaments stay in top shape. Perhaps breasts weren't meant to be kept totally "jiggless" and motionless! Just remember to wear sports bras during any active sports where the breasts would bounce a lot.
Now, women with heavy breasts may find that regular bra wearing can delay or diminish sagging, because their breasts are just so heavy. However, the jury is still out—there aren't enough studies for us to know definitely.
And please remember that it is changes during pregnancy, not breastfeeding, that increases sagging. Don't deprive your baby of your milk by thinking you will escape droopy breasts that way!
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