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Normal Breast Development

This is a comprehensive article about breast development, especially during puberty, addressing most of the concerns that teen girls have about their breasts. It is divided into the following sections:

  • Breast development during puberty
  • What about those "Tanner stages"?
  • A question about SMALL breasts
  • Breast development during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and weaning
  • Teens worry if their breasts are normal
  • Worrying about small breasts
  • Worrying about large breasts
  • Breast size
  • Cleavage?
  • Anorexia and breasts

  • Breast development during puberty

    The beginnning of breast development is one of the earliest signs of puberty in girls, the appearance of pubic hair being the other. In other words, pubic hair and breast buds appear close together.

    Breast development normally begins about 1 year before the mestrual period begins. The development takes several years.

    Note: We regret not showing pictures of breast development during teenage years. While non-sensual material purely for instructional purposes concerning child development and without faces showing should NOT be viewed as pornography, in the interest of not offending anyone, 007b.com has chosen to keep all material safely within the specifications of laws within hosting country's specifications.

    In the first stage (during childhood) the breasts are flat. Next comes the breast bud stage. In it, the nipple and breast are slightly raised as milk ducts and the fat tissue begin to form. Also, the areola begins to enlarge. The very early breast bud is something you might easily miss, because the change from flat breasts is so slight. The only difference is that the nipple area begins to look a little 'puffy'. The nipple itself is still flat.

    Next, the breast itself starts to get bigger. Often this happens initially in a conical shape, and later on in a rounder shape. The areola begins to darken and get "puffier". The nipple may become erect (pointing out) now, but fairly often it remains flat through puberty and onward, and only changes to an erect nipple when a woman gets pregnant.

    In these initial stages of breast development, it is the hormone estrogen that drives the development, causing fat to be deposited in the breast, and the milk ducts to grow. This is the time for the biggest growth in size.

    After the girl gets her period, the ovaries start producing progesterone, and that changes things. Progesterone causes the milk glands to develop at the ends of the milk ducts. This development causes less visible growth size-wise, but is very important for the job!

    Some − but not all − girls go through a stage where the nipple and the areola form a separate mound from the actual breast ("mound on mound").

    The whole process from the breast bud stage till the pubertal development is over usually takes about 3-5 years, but for some girls it may take close to 10 years.

    During breast growth, you may experience some pain and hurt or tenderness in your breasts. That is normal. Also, the skin may be itching, which is a sign that the skin is stretching.

    During breast growth, a girl's requirement for iodine, an essential mineral, increases, because healthy breast tissue concentrates iodine (it contains more of it than the surrounding tissues). In fact, breast tissue has the second highest concentration of iodine in the body (the thyroid has the highest). The larger the girl's breasts become, the more iodine she needs.

    Note also that after breast development during puberty, the breast is still NOT considered mature or fully developed.  Only pregnancy brings about the fullness of breast growth and development.

    The breast development can start as early as 8 years or as late as 13 years.  If a girl does not have breast buds nor pubic hair, which are the first signs of puberty, by age 14, it is recommended that she see a doctor. The same is true if a girl does not get her period by age 15 - this is called delayed puberty, and there are several possible reasons for it. It is advisable to visit a doctor.

    Though most of this development is over in a few years after getting your period, many girls get slightly rounder and fuller breasts in their early twenties. It is the time whey they naturally get even more feminine and mature appearance with "curves", leaving the skinny teenage look behind.

    Occasionally, a girl's breasts keep growing and keep growing past the typical development timeframe, and become very large. This condition where the breasts don't stop growing is called juvenile macromastia and juvenile gigantomastia - also called virginal (or juvenile) hypertrophy of the breasts. This lady may have suffered from it.

    Normal adult breast pictures
    - see how varied they are!

    A cup breasts nursing mom's breasts breasts  breasts of a woman 3 months pregnant breasts huge breasts breasts 52-year old lady's breasts breasts breasts breasts breasts with acne and stretch marks

    See our BREAST GALLERY for more NORMAL breast pictures!

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    What about those "Tanner stages"?

    In medical circles, breast development is sometimes divided into five stages according to Tanner. These stages of Tanner describe the physical appearance of the breast and do NOT describe "what is going on inside", or the development of milk ducts and glands.

    They are just some general notions of how growing breasts often look like — something that a doctor can easily observe from the outside when he needs to judge the pubertal development.

    HOWEVER, since the Tanner stages only describe the outside appearance and have little do with the inside development, you should not worry about these. Women's breasts vary SO MUCH in appearance that you simply cannot apply Tanner stages to every girl's breasts.

    Question about long-time breast development

    Hey Maria, I'm 15 weigh about 98 pounds and I'm 4'11. I got my period when I was 11 and had been wearing a 34A/B (I hadn't been properly fitted) since last summer. My breast have been enlarging for the past 6 months. I'm a 28E right now and I want to know if they'll stop growing anytime soon and if this is normal because I always thought that a person's breast only grow for 2-3 years after their first period.


    It's true that usually breasts only grow 2-3 years after your period comes in. But, occasionally, here and there is a woman or girl who has some breast growth even after that time. There have even been several women, 20 to 25 years old, write in to our site who have experienced some breast growth all of a sudden at their age.

    So it does happen, and not to worry. Unfortunately I don't really know when they will stop growing for you.

    Question about small breasts

    Hi, I have a question. I got my period when I was 10 1/2, and I'm 15 now. Starting puberty so young, I thought I was going to have DD's by now... Ha, ha, that's definitely not the case. I don't even fit into a 32A bra, and I was wondering if I'm going to be "flat chested" forever or if there's still time to develop... If there is still time, I was wondering, how can I know if they're growing? Will there be soreness or something? How can I tell if they are already fully developed?
    Thank you so much, CJ

    Quite likely, you are already done with pubertal breast development. However, like already mentioned above, some girls do experience some further breast growth outside those 3-5 years in the beginning of puberty.

    Remember that the difference between the various cup sizes is mostly fat (and some connective tissue). A-cup size breasts can be just as fully developed as DD cup breasts, containing the same milk-making apparatus, but just different amounts of fatty and connective tissue. So if your puberty started early and you are 15 now, your breasts may be fully developed by now − as fully as they can be for this time. There is nothing wrong with small breasts - they are great! Please read our article dedicated to small-breasted ladies.

    Breast development during pregnancy

    Breasts grow in size considerably during pregnancy because of further growth of the milk ducts and milk-producing glands.  Teenagers' breasts are mostly fat, but during pregnancy that fat gradually disappears and gives space for the milk-producing system.

    Also, the areola enlargens and becomes darker, making a big contrast with the surrounding skin, as if really pointing out to the baby where the "nutrition center" is. Breasts start producing colostrum (the early milk) already during the last months of pregnancy, and are thus fully mature and ready for their job.

    Breasts during breastfeeding and weaning

    The baby should start nursing immediately after giving birth, receiving colostrum for a few days. Then after those few days, the so-called "mature milk" comes in. The mature milk comes in in larger quantity than colostrum, and often a woman's breasts become engorged and are at their largest at this point.

    After the baby learns to nurse more, the supply of milk settles down to exactly match the demand, and a woman's breasts return to the size they were just before giving birth. During subsequent breastfeeding relationship, the breasts change size (slightly) all the time as they either are filling with milk or are being emptied by the baby. In general, they are usually about the same size as during pregnancy.

    With weaning, the milk glands atrophy or shrink to almost nothing, and obviously the breasts decrease in size correspondingly. However, after the milk glands shrivel up, the body starts depositing some fat back to the breasts. Remember, at lot of the fat left the breasts during pregnancy.

    If the weaning is abrupt, the breasts will dramatically decrease in size and can look like "empty balloons". If the weaning is gradual, this will not happen. At any case, eventually fat fills breasts again and the breasts will regain their pre-pregnancy size or close to it.

    breastfeeding doll
    Every girl should have a breastfeeding doll instead of skinny barbies.

    Changes during menopause

    In menopause, the milk producing system—ducts and milk glands—shrink, and are slowly then replaced by fat (just like after weaning). Some post-menopausal women can even experience an increase in breast size. Having more fat instead of milk glands makes the breasts softer. Also, the connective tissue loses strength, which makes the breasts sag more.

    Teens worry if their breasts are normal

    As the following comments sent to this website show, teenagers do worry a lot about their breast size/shape/development, and many teen girls wish for bigger breasts:

    Visitor comments:

    "Hi. I am 15 years old. My breasts have started growing but not like my other friends. Can you please give me a solution to make them bigger."


    "I feel that the size of my breasts is too big which gives me a bad figure. What should I do to reduce it? My age is 20. What should I do?"

    "Thanks for your site. I'm 10 years old and I thought I had normal breasts but all the other girls make fun of me. Only one other girl has breasts but not like me. They say my breasts are too big for me (I'm 4'8 and 84 pounds) and now I wear sweaters a lot to hide it. When is the normal age to have breasts and will they get smaller again? I like your site but I don't see any pics of women that look like me:'("

    "Thank you so much. I was very concerned about my development. I am still unsure, I am 16 years old and one of my breasts is larger than the other one. Is this normal?"

    "My niece is 9 and only one of her breast is starting to develop. Is this normal or should both start developing at the same time. My sister is a little concerned that it might be some type of deformity. Can you give me any answers? Thank you.

    "I'm a 16 year old who is still in high school. I was embarrassed all the time because I have small breasts. It runs in my family, and all my friends have large breasts. I was afraid to wear bathing suits, dresses, tank tops, and pretty much any cute shirt. But because of this site I have a new confidence in myself. I play volleyball, soccer, surf, snowboard, and love dancing. But my small breasts held me back, and yes I did think ALL THE TIME about getting implants. All the girls on my teams had nice large breasts and they bragged about them and showed them off in revealing shirts. Now that I really think about it, it is the people who mark you for your breast size who need to grow up. THANKS!"

    First of all, it is very normal and usual for one breast to bud before the other, or the breasts to develop at different rates so that they are lopsided for a while. They usually even out eventually, so that the uneven sizes are not very noticeable. However, a big portion of adult women do have different-sized breasts; usually one is just slightly bigger than the other, or maybe has a different shape.

    Secondly, many teenagers get concerned when they see their friends' breasts growing and theirs are not.  There is usually absolutely NO REASON TO WORRY because the timing varies greatly from girl to girl.  Some start developing breasts as early as 8 years old, some as late as 18, though in most girls the breasts start budding between 9 and 12 years.  In any case, your breasts WILL develop in time for their purpose of feeding your baby!

    "I'm scared my boobs are tubular or whatever. They don't really look like the boobs you have in the picture you have of tubular breasts, but the nipples on mine are really weird, like they form a second little mound. It's really hard to tell though, because my boobs are a 32A so they're incredibly puny which makes me depressed. But anyway, when they're erect they look normal but when they're not they look weird."

    "My breasts are kind of small. But are starting to take a round shape. However they are still pointier than those of my friends... my nipples always seem to be puffy and look like the photos form "mound on mound stage of puberty". But I'm 17 and ... have had my period for a long time... I don't think it is puberty.... they are always puffy and swollen looking, like one big mound rather than that of a nipple and its areola... any ideas?"

    These girls are probably describing a flat nipple. When the nipple is not erect, it is called a flat nipple. That is fairly common, and more so among teenagers. It is nothing to worry about. Most flat nipples start sticking out (become erect) during pregnancy. See also our nipple information page.

    breastfeeding after birth
    This mom is nursing her newborn right after giving birth - just like all moms should!

    Worrying about small breasts

    We also get lots of requests for help from girls who have A-cup size breasts:

    "I'm 12 and I had my period I think as 11 years old. My breast are hard around the nipple and are a 32 A barely. What can I do to make them bigger? Everyone else has bigger ones. My cousin is 2 months younger than me and she is 36 A no problem. I'm scared because I'm small still and she is young but has bigger breasts. Please help me !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm embarrassed to wear a bathing suit. I weigh 101 and I don't know what I can do to make them bigger!!!! Please help me ASAP!!!!!!!!!!!"

    "I am 14 yrs. old and had just gotten my period 2 months ago. I have gotten signs of puberty such as pubic hair, growth spurt (I'm 5' 9"), and mild acne. The only thing is my breasts DON'T GROW!!!!! I barely fit into a 32A!!!! I heard that you should look at your relatives but it's confusing. My mom and oldest sister are C's, my 2nd oldest sister in a DD, and my aunt is an A!!!!! I am so confused! Puberty seems like it is working except it is skipping the breast stage! Will my breasts get bigger and how much longer do I have until they stop growing? PLEASE HELP!!!! Katie

    I'm a 32 A and I got my period back in 7th grade (I'm going into 10th now) and I'm sick of it. My boobs are all pointy but round underneath. It's weird, and the nipples are puffy and they make this little mound above my boob except when it's cold then they look normal. I got these sports bra tops from Target the other day and I don't even fill those out... and it was a size small for crying out loud!!! I really want breast implants and it doesn't matter if it messes up my breastfeeding things or whatever because guys hate me and they'll never talk to me much less get me pregnant or marry me or even like me. They hate me. I just want some self-esteem with having bigger boobs. Not to impress guys since they hate me and never want to talk to me. So do you have any tips on how to make boobs bigger or something before I go all the way and have surgery?

    Actually those puffy nipples that look "normal" in the cold are flat nipples that become erect when cold... like mentioned above.

    Since these girls have gotten their period already, it sounds like they are going to be small-breasted as adults. Or, if they are skinny, they may get somewhat fuller and rounder breasts later when they gain a little weight. But why is it such a catastrophe to have an A-cup as breast size? It is normal; many women have it. It only seems distressing when the media has brainwashed us into believing that "breasts make a woman" or that breast size is the main thing that makes a girl attractive to guys.

    Not so. While guys usually do want to see breasts - they are often just plain curious about it, since they are kept so well hidden from their view - they are far less concerned about breast size than girls and women are! Remember, what makes a woman attractive is her general appearance, behavior, personality, attitudes, sense of humor... and that can include a lot of variety in the actual physical attributes. Please read also our page about small breasts.

    a nursing child
    Photo by joyfulabode

    Worrying about large breasts

    Next, if you have large breasts, it is very normal that they start 'sagging' or drooping some already during your teen years.  It is a natural process that happens to everybody at some point, and there really isn't anything you can do to prevent it - for example bras won't keep breasts from sagging (except while you wear them).  Below you can see what comments some teens have left on our breast gallery page about this fact.  If you're teen and have sagging breasts, you are NOT alone!

    I normally thought I was abnormal as at the age of sixteen I have sagging breats. But now I know that I am normal.
    thank u
    pooh bear

    Is there anyway that you can prevent your boobs from sagging when you're around 13

    I'm 18 and my breasts are already pretty saggy. They resemble the breasts of a 40-year old mother of two. Although, I appreciated seeing normal breasts, I was wondering if it is common to have overly saggy breast at this young an age?

    I have a question, I'm 15 years old and I'm at a D bra now and my breast without my bra are sagging or I think they are sagging. How do I know if they are sagging when they are so big and what can I do about it?

    I am only 16 but I worry about my breasts. I have natural size C-cup breasts and I have worries that are are too big, already. My breasts have already began to sag and it worries me but I'm beginning to see that breasts of all sizes are normal and this site has helped me to see this.

    Thank you. Until I saw this website I was convinced that my saggy, lopsided breasts were absolutely abnormal and hideously ugly. Working on a college campus, I'm surrounded by the perky breasts of girls in their late teens and early 20's and this has distorted my perception of "normal." Growing up overweight, my breasts developed (and began to sag) earlier than most. I never experienced "perky", or at least was too young and asexual at that point to enjoy them. Thank you for helping me understand and appreciate my body for what it is. :o)
    I think this web site is great, I am 19 and being a 32H they are sagging a bit and thought I was too young for this to start happening to me, but seeing these picutres of other people it has made me feel alot better about my self, thank you.

    Sometimes you may think you have sagging breasts when in reality you really don't, or it is very minimal. You can read What causes sagging breasts? to find out more about droopy breasts.

    Breast size

    Breast size is largely determined by your genes. You can look to your mom and other female relatives and get somewhat of an idea of what your breast size might end up being, though this is NOT a guarantee.

    Another factor in breast size is how skinny/fat you are. As mentioned already, breasts have a lot of fat in them. The skinnier you are, the less fat your breasts contain and smaller they are. When you gain weight (or fat) in general, some of that fat will get deposited in your breasts, so that is why overweight and obese people have bigger breasts. And if you lose weight (fat) from your body, some of that fat will be lost from your breasts, too. This explains why athletic girls often have small breasts - their body fat content is fairly small. The same is of course true for girls suffering from anorexia nervosa.

    Unfortunately, when you lose weight and your breasts will be smaller, they often end up sagging more, as the skin is already stretched, but now there is less "stuff" to fill it. There is no sure way to prevent this (some nutrients might help preserve skin elasticity).

    Exercise won't make breasts bigger because breasts don't have any muscles. Nor will sleeping position, wearing or not wearing bras, milk, peanuts, or any other foods - but of course it is important to eat a healthy diet so your body can develop as it is supposed to.

    There are no reliable means of increasing your breast size other than breast implants.  But you should know those carry with them very serious health risks. We also have a page that answers in detail if and how you can make your breasts bigger.

    Some girls end up being flat-chested - for reasons we do not know. Flat-chested girls lack the fat in breasts but they have the milk producing system in there and can breastfeed. Please read our page about being flat-chested to learn more. Being flat-chested doesn't mean you have to get worried - but if in addition you don't get your period by age 15, that can be a sign of delayed puberty.

    We hope knowing these facts will ease your mind off from worrying.  You may have heard or read these same facts about breast development elsewhere, too.  They are commonly known and commonly noted.  So the chances are you are developing just normally and there's no reason to be concerned.

    This is such a good site. it has made me feel so much better. I used to think I was abnormal. Now I know... I'm normal :)
    a teenager

    I am 21 years old and ever since my teens I have thought my breasts were ugly and deformed. I have recently tried to commit suicide and as a result was a patient in a mental health ward, all due to the way I perceive my breasts. This site has helped me to understand that I am a normal woman. I hope it will stop other women from suffering the way I have over the years.

    Breastfeeding a toddler

    Photo source Mama Fresh (www.pusteblumenbaby.de)


    I am currently 18 years old and turning 19 in April, and 5'8 and weight 135 lbs. I was a late bloomer with getting my period, at age 16 exactly, and I am not exactly the bustiest girl in my age group. I'm a 32-34 A and I don't necessarily mind my size, since I usually use push up bra's, but I can't help but hate that the center of my chest is practically bare. I have development to the sides but I don't have any cleavage. Even with a push up bra. Could you offer any advice or maybe a reason for this? Thank you very much~
    I'm 17 and wear a 32D bra. I'm small but rather busty. But I have a major issue with my breasts... well my cleavage more specifically. I feel that its very wide. Even when I put my bra on it doesn't push them together (I have to push them into the cups because they tend to stick out the sides ever so slightly). Even then my cleavage is still quite wide...

    I don't think this is normal for a girl my age, surely at my age my breasts should be firm and perky. But they are very squishy and they don't sag so much as droop a little... I don't mind this but because of the cleavage width, it looks unappealing.

    But I'm still self conscious. It would really help me out if I could get some confirmation from people who know about breasts if this is normal

    Your breasts are normal.

    What is not normal is the society's and media's emphasis on "cleavage". It's not something women automatically have, and the only reason women are "supposed" to have cleavage is because the media makes us think that's the way to attract males... to have cleavage and of course to show it.

    Breasts that point somewhat to the sides are perfectly normal. Breasts that don't have "cleavage" even with push-up bras are perfectly normal. I am not even sure if it is healthy to push and squeeze the breasts together to create cleavage.


    Photo courtesy of Beauty of Breastfeeding Calendar

    Anorexia and breasts

    Anorexia, bulimia, or severe dieting will cause the fat to disappear from breasts, and that is why breasts of an anorexic girl will look very small, or shrunken.

    When such a girl is recovering and gaining weight again, fat gets deposited back to the breasts. However, it won't always be the same amount of fat as was there before.

    The milk ducts and glands shouldn't be affected - if they had already developed! But if anorexia hits while the breasts are growing ducts and glands, then that development will stop since the starved body will stop producing hormones that drive that growth.

    With anorexia, it is hard to say how things will go afterwards. Most girls become fertile again and resume menstruation, or continue their pubertal development if it wasn't finished, but some girls never gain their menstruation and fertility back even after recovery.

    The following letters show how after anorexia, breasts won't necessarily be the same size as before:

    Hi. I stared my period when I was 9 years old. Sadly, during 8th grade, I was anorexic and lost my breast fat. I am not anorexic anymore and am healthy so my breasts grew back. I am worried that I won't grow big as they are supposed to grow. Right now, the size of my breasts are the same size when I was in 7th grade...

    I am an 18 year old female I just turned 18 about 4 mnths ago and I got my period when I was 14 , but then when I was about 16 years old I was anorexic for about a year, then I lost all the breat tissue I had and now I'm back to being healthy but I'm a 32 B , Is there anyway my breasts will still grow? My mom and every woman in my family had a 36B or bigger breasts, yet somehow I don't think mine will grow or they are taking long, or do you think my anorexia a while back had an effect on their growth?

    hello! I'm 15 years old, and i'm really worried about my breasts. I started my period at age 9 and by that time my breasts were developing and also pubic hair. However pple teased me because I was overweight and I got depression and I felt very bad about myself. So by the time I got to middle school I decided to stop eating. At the time I was about 13 almost 14. I wouldn't eat much for a time then i stopped and only drank water. I was afraid to eat and I became anorexic.I would read the food labels and keep note of how many calories I consumed. I quit that after I began to feel numb and nearly had a heart attack and had to go to the hospital twice. Now i'm eating better and I feel better. Except, I don't know if not eating well for half a year could have affected my breasts and i'm worried that they won't grow anymore. I'm a 32A . When I had anorexia, my period did stop. But now that I started to eat again, it's back again.It's been about 8 months now that I have gotten my period. Will my breast continue to grow, or am I done? please help me I would really like to know.

    When I was 14 I became anorexic. The anorexia stopped when I was 17. I noticed that my breast size went from a 34C to a 32A. I'm now 19 and am now at the high end of normal weight. However, I have a problem which is that the weight has gone to my bum, and not back to my breasts. Why are my breasts not growing back? and what can I do in order to help them get back the way they were. I don't want to put on any more weight as i'm at the high end of my normal weight range; any more and i'll become obesse.

    Mostly this difference compared to earlier breast size would be because the breasts now have less fat. Unfortunately, it's hard to tell if the breasts will gain their previous size, or not, and if the duct and gland development was completed. However, if and when these girls get pregnant, the breast development during pregnancy will quite likely be normal.

    Why do teenagers worry so much about breasts?

    But it might be worth your while still consider this one thing: WHY is it that teenage girls worry so extremely about their breasts?  Is it just normal human nature?  Do you worry equally much about the shape of your lips or eyes?  Usually not.  So something else enters the picture.

    The culture that surrouds you - especially magazines, TV, music videos, internet - has influenced your (and your friends' and your parents') thinking.  The media images leave the impression that normal kind of breasts are fairly big and perky with small areola - the ones you see supermodels have. But remember that those photos in magazines are retouched - THE PHOTOS ARE NOT REAL!

    Hollywood has promoted a "big breast" image to the modern world - BUT it was also Hollywood that in the 1920s was promoting the flat-chested look.  Women in that time tried to bind their breasts to make them look smaller.

    So what you see in media does NOT reflect the reality of women's breasts!  Female breast is the one body part that varies most of any body parts in size and shape.  You can be smarter than to fall into this trap and think for yourself!  There is NO precise rule as to what is "normal" when it comes to breasts.

    The North American culture also makes breasts to be primarily a sexual body part, and does not emphasize their feeding function.  Remember, breasts are for breastfeeding, and when the time comes, your baby will LOVE your milk and the closeness of being held next to mom's bosom no matter what size or shape your breasts or areola or nipple are.

    The best thing to do is just try to learn to be GLAD YOU ARE YOU, instead of trying to copy other people.  When/if the time comes that you find yourself a husband someday, he will hopefully fall for YOU - and not for some Hollywood stereotype!!!!!!!!

    Visitor comments