*This post contains affiliate links to products I use or recommend. By shopping from these links, you help to keep us writing!
Today Jaelin talks about women’s breasts, breast exams and how to take care of breast discomforts.
Points from the video:
Breasts are the physical metaphor for giving and receiving. In addition to being organs of nurture, breasts are also symbols of sexual desirability. Let’s face it, here in America we are obsessed with breasts, and we base our sexuality on how desirable we feel our breasts are. If they don’t fit a certain stereotype we have set up in our heads, then we are unhappy. This leads many women to get new breasts or breast enhancements through plastic surgery.
The truth is, this view is really only judged by women. Breasts come in all shapes and sizes, and they are all normal. Women often feel that their breasts exist for the pleasure and benefit of someone other than themselves. This perception is the root of many issues women have with their bodies.
Women in our culture often give themselves away to others, without nurturing themselves. They are working outside the home, taking care of the home, organizing the family, volunteering for school functions, supporting friends and families, and so much more. Many women are sandwiched between taking care of elderly parents and small children as well.
What does all this have to do with our breasts?
How we view our breasts has a lot to do with our breast health. Dr. Ryke Geerd Hamer, an internist and oncologist, has done extensive research on more than 20k cancer patients and demonstrated that, in every case, the development of cancer followed a severe emotional shock or loss within a year or two of the diagnosis. Other research has found women who do not deal with loss or anger or tend to suppress their emotions or internalize their emotions have adverse effects on the immune system and higher rates of breast cancer. (Christian Northrup, MD) Women’s Bodies and Women’s Wisdom.
If we do not deal with our emotions and talk about them, it can wreak havoc on our breast health.
Anatomy of Breast
The female breast is designed to provide optimal nourishment for babies and to provide sexual pleasure for the woman herself. Breasts are glandular organs that are very sensitive to hormonal changes in the body; they undergo cyclic changes in synchrony with the menstrual cycle. They retain fluid and change throughout your cycle, which is why some women feel breast tenderness during their period or before or after their period.
They are very intimately connected with the female genital system. Nipple stimulation also stimulates the clitoris and increases prolactin and oxytocin secretion from the pituitary gland. You can have an orgasm from nipple stimulation! These affect the uterus and can cause contractions in the uterus and the pelvic floor muscles. Breast tissue extends to under the armpit and up to the clavicles.
Again, breasts and nipples come in all shapes and sizes. Most women have one breast that is smaller than the other, and some women, as well as men, have a third nipple.
Breast Screening Guidelines
This is so controversial to me, and my views on this may not run to mainstream. However, in fairness, I will present you with the guidelines and links to do your own research.
Self Breast Exams
Most organizations are saying NO to self breast exams. Their stand is that women who perform regular self breast exams have more benign breast biopsies. This lead them to believe that women can not recognize changes or exam their own breasts well.
The key here is to know your own breast tissue. Look at the shape of your breasts in the mirror, notice the differences in size. Do you have any dimples or red areas? Is there anything protruding? If there are any signs that your breasts are not normal, then you should have them looked at. Don’t take “no” for an answer, either. If you feel like something is wrong, find someone who will listen and examine them. Call me, and I will if you are in the area.
Women’s reluctance on self breast exams are rooted in two causes, according to Dr. Northrupt . One is fear about what you are going to find. A lot of women are afraid to do self breast exams because they are afraid they will find something wrong, and they don’t want to find something. The second root cause is women’s innate inner guidance that knows that making a breast exam into a “search and destroy” mission is not only counterproductive, but it may even be harmful.
A good time to check your breast is after your healthcare provider has done an exam, this way you will be confident in what you are feeling is normal. Approach your breasts with respect. If you have a negative view of your “lumpy” breasts, then start changing that message to yourself. Start paying special attention to them in your daily shower or bath, pay attention to how the skin feels under your fingers. Imagine that you have healing powers in your hands (Which You Do). As you wash your breasts and under your arms, do so in the spirit of blessing this area of your body. As you do so, you will be learning the basic contours and reclaimed some respect for your breasts as an important part of your anatomy. Your breast tissue will respond positively to your inner intent!
Once you are completely comfortable, proceed with learning how your breasts feel with deeper pressure. You might approach this step in a spirit of curiosity, the same way you might examine your own hand or the sole of your foot. Your breasts are a vital part of your woman’s wisdom, and you want to learn to listen to them.
If you feel lumps in your breasts, note what area of your cycle you are in. These could just be glands in your breast tissue. As your hormones are going up and down during your cycle, so are the tissues in your breasts. Small, movable nodules are glands, and sometimes women can develop cysts in their breasts as well. This would be a softer lump that may grow over time or disappear over time. These are also normal, but something to watch out for and keep an eye on. If you feel anything hard, immovable or jagged, get this checked out.
By law of attraction, that which we focus on tends to expand. Studies show that if we think we are going to get breast cancer, the odds are we will get breast cancer. However, it’s all about how we look at this process, and if you have heard any of our other Midwife Mondays, you know we discuss this in regards to many aspects of our health and labor. It’s all on how we approach our breast health. We can approach getting to know our breasts in a healthy, loving way that enhances your health on all levels.
Screenings: Mammogram, US, Thermography.
When should you start screening for breast cancer? Most organizations do not agree on when you should start screening for breast cancer. The general consensus is that if you have no history of breast cancer in your family, you should start screening at age 50 every other year. If you do have a history, sometimes they would recommend screening as early as 30-34.
The Dangers of Mammograms.
I have a lot of issues with mammograms. Mammograms are radiation, and when we have a mammogram, we are actually radiating our breast tissue. Radiation can cause breast cancer. Also, when we are smashing our breast tissue for this exam, it hurts and causes inflammation. This can also cause breast cancer. It is well known in the medical society and literature that mammograms have been shown to contribute to breast cancer. It is in so much literature. Do your own research. We will put some resources at the bottom as well. Just because your doctor tells you you need a mammogram doesn’t mean you have to get one. Mammograms aren’t benign and can cause breast cancer.
What’s an alternative to mammograms?
Ultrasound is the golden standard for detecting breast cancer. If you have a mammogram and they detect something, they will then follow up with an ultrasound to determine if it is breast cancer. Instead, skip the mammogram and go straight for the ultrasound. It’s your money and your body. You can go to independent places other than doctors for an ultrasound on your breast tissue if your doctor is unwilling to do one without a mammogram.
Thermography is another option for a breast exam. This technique doesn’t touch your breasts at all. It is a heat activated system that scans your body and shows any abnormalities. I love thermography, and will leave some links in the resources for you to do your own research.
Benign Breast Symptoms: Breast Pain, Lumps, Cysts, and Nipple Discharge
Most breast complaints of pain that comes and goes is related to the menstrual cycle, caused by suboptimal iodine levels, excess hormonal stimulation, estrogen dominance, excessive caffeine intake, or even chronic stress
A common term many women hear is that they have Fibrocystic Breast tissue or disease. This is ridiculous. Breast tissue is made of connective tissue and fat. Over time this changes and the connective tissue gets softer and it doesn’t happen evenly over time. Some areas feel denser than others. Some women just have dense connective tissue, but because of this, they are given a diagnosis of a disease. Intuitively, I find this crazy making. This is just from having a lot of connective tissue without the firmness we once had.
Our bodies are perfectly orchestrated and just because we have breast pain, does not mean we have a disease. Again, breast pain is another example where women are encouraged not to trust their bodies. Breast pain can be caused by different things. It could be tenderness from where you are in your cycle or hormonal changes. Diet can cause breast pain, especially too much sugar. Deficiencies can cause breast pain, especially deficiency in vitamin D, iodine, and more. Most of the time, breast pain is not related to breast cancer, but if you are worried, have them looked at.
Many women will have some discharge from the nipple that is milky white to greenish clear fluid, especially after sex. However, if you have never had children and you are having a lot of this discharge, then you should have your prolactin levels checked. This could be indicative of a pituitary tumor. However, if your breast discharge is bloody, brownish/black, or has an odor, you need to be seen right away, and don’t take no for an answer.
Treatment for Benign Breast Symptoms and Breast Pain
- A low sugar diet minimizes excess estrogen and also decreases cellular inflammation. Breast tissue is exquisitely sensitive to high refined carbohydrate diets, which raise estrogen, insulin, and blood sugar levels resulting in cellular inflammation. Excessive estrogen increases breast pain and cyst formation.
- Increasing soluble fiber from vegetable sources helps increase excretion of excess estrogen. Lentils and beans are good fiber sources. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, kale, brussels sprouts, turnips, and collard greens are also excellent sources of fiber and vitamins.
- Indole-3-carbinol (aka Indole3C) or DIM are supplements that help the body eliminate excess estrogen.
- Eliminate dairy products at least for one month and see if this helps reduce or eliminate your breast pain. If there is no change in your breast pain, then you will know this was not the issue.
- Eliminate caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant and can cause inflammation or cysts in our breasts.
- Decrease alcohol consumption.
- Supplements: Omega-3 fats – hemp oil, macadamia nuts, walnut oil, flaxseed oil, and cold water fish, cod liver oil or fish oil.
- Antioxidants like Vitamin E and Vitamin A (extra Vitamin A should not be taken in pregnancy)
- Bioflavonoids like Vitamin C
- Vitamin D3 2-5K IU daily
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Coenzyme Q10
- Increase intake of Iodine. Japan has the lowest occurrence of breast cancers, and research shows this is due to their high intake of iodine 45mg/day mostly from seaweed and fish. Research shows that of the women taking 6 mg-90 mg per day, they feel healthier and have a greater sense of well being. 70% of breast pain goes away with iodine intake.
- Progesterone therapy for a short time may help.
- Castor Oil Packs
- Change your bras. Wear a comfortable bra that is not pinching, pulling or pressing on your breasts causing discomfort, and make sure your bra is giving you the right amount of support.
- Avoid these drugs if possible: Danazol, Bromocroptine, Birth control pills
- Exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep.
- Accept, support and nurture yourself.
If you are in Houston and surrounding areas, check out hhhomebirth.com!