Becoming a Woman. Period. Breasts 101

Becoming a Woman. Period.

Most everyone is born with organs such as a heart, lungs, kidneys, breasts, and so on, but unlike the other organs, the breasts are not developed and functioning at birth. As a matter of fact, the breasts are not fully developed until they have “gone to work” (i.e., have gone through a full-term pregnancy and have fed a baby).

While the birthing process hasn’t changed much over the years, the milestones for our bodies certainly have.

Did you know that a hundred years ago, the average age at which a woman got her period was 15? Then, she had her first baby around age 17. Let’s do the math: that’s two years from the time she “got her breasts” until they “went to work.”

Today, girls start puberty much younger. The average age is 11, and some start as early as 8! On the flip side, many women are making the decision to wait on having children, if they have them at all. So, if a girl gets her period at 11 and doesn’t have a child until 31, that’s 20 years from the time she got her breasts until they go to work. Imagine all of the partying and misbehaving her breasts are doing while waiting to go to work?

What does that mean?

The actual breast development starts even before puberty begins. So, basically from the time you hit puberty until your first full-term pregnancy, the breasts are growing. They’re immature and simply hanging out, waiting to do their job. It is during this “hanging out” period that the breasts are most vulnerable, exposed to chemicals in, on, and around the body.

Why are breasts developing so early?

Obesity and exposure to hormone disruptors (chemicals that act like hormones in the body) are some of the theories as to why girls are starting puberty so much earlier. Obesity means more body fat, and body fat attracts hormones, like estrogen. A rise in estrogen triggers breast development and puberty. The earlier your breasts form, the sooner they become “exposed” to chemicals inside and outside of your body. The longer your body is exposed to excess amounts of hormones and hormone disruptors, the greater the risk for breast cancer.

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