Popular culture is smitten with "the girls." They've been ogled for thousands of years, produced milk for thousands of years and even been exposed during a Super Bowl halftime show. We wonder why men have nipples, yet, how much do we really know about our own breasts?
1. Women's breasts stay full whether they are lactating or not. This is quite different from other primates, and rather interesting seeing as our ancestral history goes back to apes. In observing female primates, such as the chimpanzee or baboon, scientists have found that their breasts only become full when they are lactating in order to feed their young. After they are done breastfeeding, the enlarged breasts quickly go back to normal. Most theories as to why our breasts stay plump surround the idea that our breasts are to human males what red butt cheeks are to ape males looking to mate.
2. One nip, two nip, red nip... third nip? Polythelia is the condition where some people have an extra nipple. Mark Wahlberg, Lily Allen and even Harry Styles all have VIP access to the Triple Nipple Club (actually, Harry has four!). It is estimated that six percent of the population have accessory breast tissue.
Bonus! Exercise can't make your boobs larger, but it can strengthen the pectoral muscles underneath them. Watch the video below to see moves that lift the girls!
3. Breastfeeding can lower the risk of heart disease and cancer in moms. It would be a very large list to include all the numerous benefits of breastfeeding, for your baby and for you. Moms often have stronger bones when breastfeeding because calcium is absorbed much more efficiently when they are lactating. In general, breastfeeding gives long term protection for you and your baby against many chronic conditions such as diabetes, celiac disease and Crohn's disease.
>> New moms, click here for breastfeeding 101!
4. No two nipples are the same, not even your own two. There are eight different types of nipples. Nipples are like snowflakes, only better! The eight categories are normal, flat, puffy, short nipple, long nipple, inverted grade 1, inverted grade 2 and inverted grade 3. Even though one of the categories is "normal," one study found that 28 to 35 percent of women have nipple types in the other seven categories. But no matter, anyone who is lucky enough to see yours probably won't notice if they are in any way "abnormal."
5. Sleeping face down can change the shape of your breasts. Over time, that is. Lying face down one night won't flatten them out, but over time can make them slightly misshapen. The best sleeping position is on your back or on your side to avoid any lopsided girls!
6. The left girl is usually larger. Kind of frustrating, isn't it? Experts aren't sure why this is, but it most often holds true that your left breast is very slightly larger than your right. Alexander Swistel, M.D., director of the Weill-Cornell Breast Center in New York City said in an interview with Cosmo that, "the left breast tends to have more tissue. Sometimes it's obvious, but often the difference is so slight, you'd never notice." Hard to imagine any imperfections on such perfect body parts.
>> Read more: The Pros and Cons of Breast Implants
7. Strands and hairs are normal. As if plucking our eyebrows and shaving our legs weren't enough, we have to deal with these suckers too. But take comfort in knowing that your fellow women also have two to 15 dark, randomly placed hairs around their nipples. Plucking and waxing them are fine, but increase the risk of infection and most often, the hair only grows back heavier than before.
8. Some women can achieve an orgasm from nipple stimulation alone. A woman's brain processes stimulation to her nipples and her genitals in the same way. A study in 2009 found that 29 percent of the 213 women participating experienced an orgasm via their breasts at one time or another. Meaning, don't ignore the girls!
>> Curious about the health benefits of orgasms? Click here!
9. Wet nursing is becoming popular again. The job is quite different now, however. Some new moms find that they can't breastfeed and turn to other options. Mother-to-mother milk sharing networks have grown over the past year, with websites like Eats on Feets providing commerce-free breast milk! The website allows women to donate their breast milk to ensure the health of babies around the world.
10. Give them a squeeze to stop breast cancer. Researchers at UC Berkley found that to put the kibosh on malignant mammary cells, giving them a squeeze will help guide the cells back to normal growth. The research showed that tissue organization within the breasts responds to compressions and appears to help get the malignant cells back on the right track, meaning normal growth.