Aging Changes in the Breast
As you age, the tissue in your breasts and the structure of your breasts begin to change. This is due to changes in your reproductive hormones caused by the natural process of aging. Because of these changes, your breasts begin to lose their firmness and fullness. Also with age comes an increased risk of developing abnormal growths in the breast such as fibroids and cysts, though women of reproductive age can also develop them.
One of the main causes of aging changes in the breasts is a natural decline of the female reproductive hormone estrogen. This reduced amount of estrogen causes the skin to become dry, making it less elastic. With less elasticity, the breasts lose firmness and fullness and develop a stretched and saggy appearance. It is not uncommon for an older woman to have changes in her cup size due to the changes that occur within her breasts. Most changes in the breast due to age occur around the time of menopause.
However, women who have had their reproductive organs surgically removed can develop aging changes in the breasts at any time. Some women experience these changes before menopause, although these changes are more prevalent among menopausal women. These changes affect the breast’s connective tissue, skin, and muscles.
What Changes can be Expected?
Common changes that occur in the breast due to age include:
* Nipple displacement (nipples point to the side instead of straight ahead).
* Stretch marks.
* An elongated, stretched, or flattened appearance.
* Wider space between the breasts.
* Lumpiness (may be due to fibrocystic changes in the breast or serious conditions such as breast cancer).
Aging changes in the breasts are apparent upon physical examination.
When you Need to Talk to the Doctor?
It is strongly recommended to see your health care provider about the medical conditions described below. Note that earlier diagnosed the disease, easier it can be treated.
A lump (mass) or a firm feeling
* A lump in, or near, your breast or under your arm.
* Thick or firm tissue in, or near, your breast or under your arm.
* Fast change in the size or shape of your breast.
Lumps come in different shapes and sizes. Most lumps are not cancer, but you should always get a lump checked. Do not wait until your next mammogram. You may need to have tests to be sure that the lump is not cancer.
If you notice a lump in one breast, check your other breast. If both breasts feel the same, it may be normal. Normal breast tissue can sometimes feel lumpy.
Doing a breast self-exam (BSE) regularly can help you to learn how your breast normally feels like, which makes it easier to notice difference, in case any changes pop-up. However, you have to understand - doing a BSE regularly is not a valid substitute for regular mammograms.
Nipple discharge or changes
* Nipple discharge (fluid that is not breast milk).
* Nipple changes, such as a nipple that points or faces inward (inverted) into the breast.
* Nipple discharge may be different colors or textures. It is not usually a sign of cancer; it can be caused by birth control pills, some medicines, and infections. Get nipple discharge checked, especially fluid that comes out by itself or fluid that is bloody.
* Itching, redness, scaling, dimples, or puckers on your breast
* If the skin on your breast changes, get it checked as soon as possible.
Bottom line: Anything unusual and suspicious, you may notice with your breasts, should be properly evaluated by your doctor. In addition, while breast self-exams are important, they are no substitute for regular mammograms.
"Screening and early detection by mammography currently discovers 60 to 70 percent of all new cancers, usually at a very early, curable stage — many of which can be discovered no other way because they are too small," says Dr. Wertheimer. "Screening mammography is a critical part of early detection that has allowed more cures in breast cancer patients in recent years."
In a time where the female body is, on the one hand, idealized, and, on the other hand, subject to serious health concerns, self-breast massage becomes a means for maintaining balance. In its beautiful simplicity, it cultivates health for body, mind, and soul.
Self-breast care can be practiced during any phase of life, however, it is especially useful at time and after menopause. It is not just a cosmetic procedure, which makes your breasts look younger, but it also feels good. Since it takes no more than ten minutes to complete, you can add it easily, as a daily ritual, to even the busiest schedule. There are many different techniques of massaging the breasts, all of which are beneficial when performed regularly. During the childbearing years, breast massage regulates the menstrual cycle, eases cramps, and promotes the alleviation of breast soreness due to hormonal fluctuations. During menopause, it is a stabilizing factor in reducing undesired symptoms, and after menopause, it is just as helpful in keeping the breasts healthy.
Any simple self-manipulation technique prevents stagnant tissue from creating blocked ducts or forming calcifications. The sheer fact that the breast tissue is stimulated results in drainage of the glands; consequently, toxins cannot settle. Some women have also reported that self-breast massage effectively treats and reduces cysts. It gives wonderful toning and firming benefits to the breasts.
Self-breast massage enhances emotional wellbeing by stimulating the production of the hormones progesterone and oxytocin. Both these hormones are proven to affect the human organism in positive ways. Progesterone has a calming effect and aids in sleep. Oxytocin is normally produced in lactating women. It may also reduce the risk of certain forms of cancer.
Just like the ears, hands and feet, the breasts are reflexively connected to the entire body. Breast tissue links to the major organs of the body, while the nipples correlate to the glands. Both the glands and organs, in turn, are linked to the subtle human energy anatomy and the life force that runs through this system. Massaging the breasts contributes to maintaining balanced energy channels. This may result in healing of seemingly unrelated ailments.
The felt sense of wellness and the build-up of healthy breast tissue are gained over months and years of practice of self-massage. This fosters trust in the self-regulating mechanisms of the body. As one becomes intimately accustomed to handling and assessing one’s own breasts with confidence, any change in size or firmness, including any lumps or calcified areas, are immediately noticed and can be reported to your doctor. In light of genetic factors that play a key role with fast growing cancers, medical supervision is recommended with all forms of medical self-care.
When massaging the breasts, it is most important to be comfortable. Either sitting or lying down works well. The breasts can be covered with a thin cloth, such as silk, or they can be bare. Time of day does not matter for this practice. What matters, however, is to do it regularly. It should be integrated into the daily routine without creating disruptions. It is best not to use lotion or oil, so that rather than to slide on the skin, friction is generated to move the tissue. This is also why working directly on the skin is often preferred.
The massage starts with the nipples, using two fingers of each hand on each breast, mirrored in outward circles for dispersion to the sides of the body. Pressure is light, but firm enough not to slide. The second part of the massage uses the entire palm of the hands. Again, the motion is mirrored in outward circles to the sides, with light to medium pressure applied directly to move the breast tissue. Add the awareness of breath. The out-breath clears negative feelings and emotional states, while the in-breath generates positive, calming and nurturing qualities that are transmitted to the body’s major organs.
At the end of this massage, it is clear that more than the breasts have been engaged in this routine by the sense of increased wellness and peace. Breast health becomes a joyful celebration of life in the body you can bring about with your own two hands. With more advanced training in self-breast massage, a woman might add sounds and visualizations to the massage movements. The sounds clear negative feelings and emotional states, while the visualizations relate to the glands, which can be followed in a specific sequence to raise the Kundalini energy of awareness and evolution.
Breast Massage Technique
There are multiple self-breast massage techniques. We’ll show you one, which may be considered easy to follow and efficient.
Breast Massage is most effective when beginning with neighboring areas first. Begin under the ears and, using both hands, stroke down the neck into the hollow above the collarbone, between the base of the neck and the shoulder. Repeat 15 times.
1. Open up the area where the lymphatic system terminates and rejoins the blood system. This is located in the hollow spaces behind your collarbones. With two hands, using the finger pads and crossing the wrists to make this easier, stretch the skin from the outside towards the center of your neck. Repeat 15 times.
2. Open left armpit and put your left hand on head (during post- surgery healing do not raise the arm above shoulder height). Using the right hand, place a flat hand over the center of your armpit keeping your hand in one place, stretch the skin upwards in a circular fashion. Repeat 15 times.
3. Massage on left breast. Stroke lightly, stretch the skin, "like petting a cat." Move the top hand across the top of the breast toward the armpit, simultaneously moving the bottom hand across the bottom of the breast in the opposite direction, then reverse. Repeat 10 times and end with a final stroke up into the armpit.
Another approach, which is not illustrated, is to lift and compress the breast, creating a pumping motion or the breast may be "jiggled" with a shaking action with both hands positioned around the breast. Do one final lift and compression of the breast, then create a wave like motion toward the armpit area. Repeat step 2.
4. Self-Massage on Right Chest: switch hands and do the stroking massage on the right side, repeating steps 2 and 3. When both sides are done repeat step 1 to complete your breast self-massage routine.
Note that stimulation of the breasts may be one of the easiest and most successful means of maintaining healthy breasts and possibly even preventing breast cancer disease. Increasing circulation and stimulating lymph drainage through stroking can be effective in removing toxins from cells, where they can then be transported to lymph nodes and rendered harmless. How you approach breast massage, is your choice. However, it is advised it be performed 2-3 times per week for about 5-15 minutes.
Qigong Self-Massage For Breast Health & Endocrine Balance
If you have more time available, and you would like to explore deeper ways for your breast maintenance, you may try the famous Qigong self-massage for breasts and endocrine system. You may use the perfectly clear plan even if you do not practice Qigong.
1. To begin the practice, sit comfortably in a straight-backed chair, with your spine upright and your shoulders relaxed. Smile gently - to release any unnecessary tension in your face, neck, throat or jaw - and then float the tip of your tongue up to lightly contact the roof of your mouth, just behind the upper front teeth.
2. Rub the palms of your hands together for ten or fifteen seconds, until they feel pleasantly warm. Then, use the center of your palms, moving in a circle around your nipples, to massage your breasts. (The center of the palm is the location of a powerful point - PC8 - on the Pericardium meridian, that is used in acupuncture and other forms of energy-healing.) The left palm will massage the left breast, and the right palm will massage the right breast. Your extended fingers will cross as your hands come close to the centerline of your body, and then separate as your hands move outward. Massage firmly enough to gently lift your breasts with each rotation. (Best to do this practice wearing a cotton or silk shirt, with no bra.) As you massage, imagine and feel energy (qi) from the center of your palms flowing, like a golden healing light, into every cell of your breasts. Repeat, six to eight times in each direction.
3. Next, use the first two fingers of each hand to gently massage, with small circular motions, the soft area where the top of your neck meets the base of your skull, directly in the center as well as just outside of the two large tendons (DU16 & GB20 in the acupuncture system). As you do this, place your mental focus in the center of your skull, in the space between the two hemispheres of the brain, as though you’re say hello and smiling to your pineal, pituitary, thalamus and hypothalamus glands (as in the Inner Smile practice). Continue for ten to fifteen seconds.
4. Repeat the breast massage (of step #2), this time imagining and feeling the energy of the pineal/pituitary/hypothalamus/thalamus center flowing down to mingle with the energy of your breasts.
5. Next, use the thumb and first finger of one of your hands, placed on either side of the top/front of your neck (just an inch or so below the corner of your right and left jaw-bones), to gently vibrate the area housing your thyroid and parathyroid glands, creating a rapid back-and-forth (right-to-left) motion, with the palm of your hand floating an inch or two in front of your neck. Continue for ten or fifteen seconds, sending smile-energy into this area, as though you are saying hello to these important glands.
6. Repeat the breast massage sequence, this time imagining and feeling the energy of the thyroid and parathyroid glands flowing down to mingle with the energy of your breasts.
7. Now, use the tips of the first, middle and ring fingers of one of your hands to gently tap on the very top portion of your sternum (breastbone), in the very center of your chest, at the level of your collarbones. As you tap, for ten or fifteen seconds, say hello, with a smile, to your thymus gland, which is tucked there right beneath the upper sternum.
8. Repeat the breast massage, this time imagining and feeling the energy of the thymus gland flowing down to mingle with the energy of your breasts.
9. Next, use the ends your fingers (of both hands) to gently massage the upper part of your abdomen, directly below your ribcage. As you massage - from the left-most across to the right-most part of your upper abdomen, and then back again - imagine your fingers growing very long, extending energetically into your abdomen in a way that allows them to “touch” - with healing light and a smile - your spleen, pancreas and gallbladder.
10. Repeat the breast massage, this time imagining and feeling the energy of the spleen, pancreas and gallbladder flowing up to mingle with the energy of your breasts.
11. Now, use loose fists, moving up and down parallel to your spine, to massage your lower and middle back - from the back of your pelvis up to your lower rib cage. As you do this, smile and say hello to your adrenal glands, which are nestled right on top of your kidneys, in the middle of your back, one on either side of the spine.
12. Repeat the breast massage, this time imagining and feeling the energy of the adrenal glands flowing up to mingle with the energy of your breasts.
13. Next - as in Abdominal Breathing - place the palms of your hands gently upon your lower abdomen, with the tips of the thumbs touching directly over your navel, and the tips of the first fingers touching several inches below your navel. With your hands in this position (forming a triangle around the lower dantian) your ring and pinkie fingers will be resting approximately at the level of your ovaries - so now use those two fingers, moving in small circles, to gently massage your ovaries, saying hello and smiling to them for ten to fifteen seconds.
14. Repeat the breast massage, this time imagining and feeling the energy of the ovaries flowing up to mingle with the energy of your breasts.
15. To end the practice, relax the tip of your tongue away from the roof of your mouth, rest your hands comfortably on the top of your thighs, take four or five deep slow breaths, imagining that you are saying “ah” with each exhalation, and notice how you feel.
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