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A Technical Way To Study the Human Female Breasts

In order to understand the often bewildering textures and changes that the human breast undergoes in normal (and abnormal) situations, it is necessary to learn what the breast is made of and what it is influenced by.

Breasts begin developing in the embryo about seven to eight weeks after conception. They are unrecognizable at this stage, consisting only of a thickening or ridge of tissue. From weeks 12 to 16, the various sub-components become more defined. Tiny groupings of cells begin to branch out, laying the foundation for future ducts and milk-producing glands. Other tissues develop into muscle cells that will form the nipple (the protruding point of the breast) and areola (the darkened tissue surrounding the nipple). In the later stages of pregnancy, the mother’s hormones that cross the placenta into the fetus cause breast cells to organize into branching tube-like structures thus forming the milk ducts.
 
In the final eight weeks, lobules (milk producing glands) mature and actually begin to secrete a liquid substance called colostrums. In both female and male newborns, swellings underneath the nipples and areola are evident and a clear liquid discharge (colostrums) can be seen. These represent the effect of the mother’s hormones and subside in the first few weeks of life.

From infancy to just before puberty, there is no difference between the female and male breasts. With the beginning of female puberty, however, the release of estrogen, at first alone, and then in combination with progesterone when the ovaries functionally mature, cause the breasts to undergo dramatic changes which culminate in the fully mature form. This process on average takes three to four years and is usually complete by age 16.

The breast is made of lobes of glandular tissue with associated ducts for transfer of the milk to the exterior and supportive fibrous and fatty tissue. On average, there are 15 to 20 lobes in each breast, arranged roughly in a wheel spoke-like pattern emanating from the nipple area. The distribution of the lobes is not even, however. There is a preponderance of glandular tissue in the upper outer portion of the breast. This is responsible for the tenderness in this region that many women experience prior to their menstrual cycle.
 
About 80 – 85% of normal breast tissue is just fat during the reproductive years. The 15 to 20 lobes are further divided into lobules containing alveoli (small sac-like features) of secretary cells with smaller ducts that conduct the milk to larger ducts and finally to a reservoir that lies just under the nipple. In the non-pregnant, non-lactating breast, the alveoli are small. During pregnancy, the alveoli enlarge, and during lactation the cells secrete milk substances (proteins and lipids). Muscular cells surrounding the alveoli contract to express the milk during lactation.
 
Connective tissue called Cooper’s ligaments keep the breasts in their characteristic shape and position, supporting the breast tissue. As women age, these ligaments become loose or stretched, respectively, and the breasts sag.
 
Many women may suffer psychological stress over their cosmetic appearance, whether it is due to the sagging or simple unhappiness with their size. Surgical procedures to enhance their shape are quite popular, but cannot be recommended given the many obvious risks involved. It are the herbal remedies that are safest, and proven to be nearly effective as their unnatural counterparts.

The breast is a most delicate organ of the female anatomy, and should be treated with the care it deserves.

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