Aging changes in the breast

With age, a woman's breasts lose fat, tissue, and mammary glands. Many of these changes are due to the decrease in the body's production of estrogen that occurs at menopause. Without estrogen, the gland tissue shrinks, making the breasts smaller and less full. The connective tissue that supports the breasts becomes less elastic, so the breasts sag.

Changes also occur in the nipple. The area surrounding the nipple (the areola) becomes smaller and may nearly disappear. The nipple may also turn in slightly.

Lumps are common around the time of menopause. These are often noncancerous cysts. However, if you notice a lump, make an appointment with your health care provider, because breast cancer risk increases with age. Women should be aware of the benefits and limitations of breast self-exams. These exams do not always pick up early stages of breast cancer. Women should talk to their providers about mammograms to screen for breast cancer.

Female Breast

The female breast is either of two mammary glands (organs of milk secretion) on the chest.

Mammary gland

The anatomy of the breast includes the lactiferous, or milk ducts, and the mammary lobules.