This article originally appeared on Broadly in the US in Dec 2018.
Whether you’re bouncing on a sex swing or prefer more sedate bedroom affairs, your sex life can affect your the size and appearance of your breasts—but probably not in the way you might think.
For a start, you may already have noticed short-term changes in your breast size and appearance during and after sex. “Having sex temporarily alters the shape and appearance of your breasts due to changes in blood circulation,” explains Dr. Judith Holmes of Spire Parkway Hospital. “The breasts may look and feel fuller and more pert, and the veins may become more easily visible through the skin surface.”
Typically, Holmes explains, the change is temporary, diminishing in the “resolution phase,” as she terms it, post-orgasm. (If you’re lucky enough to come, that is.) The effect, however, can be pretty substantial. Dr. Ram Prasad, a consultant breast surgeon at Pall Mall Cosmetics, says that he would expect breasts to increase in size during sex from anywhere between 15 and 25 percent.
It’s not just sex that affects your breast size. “Women may also notice a peak in their libido while they are ovulating (12-14 days before their period),” Prasad explains. “When this occurs, the body’s estrogen and progesterone levels are at their highest—these hormones stimulate the growth of breast tissue.”
In addition to getting bigger, your breasts might look different during sex. In particular, your nipples can change. Nipples become more prominent during sex, Prasad explains, due to the wonder of hormones. “When stimulated, the hormone oxytocin is released causing the nipple to become erect,” he says. “In addition, the muscles behind the breast contract causing the areola to tighten and create a goosebump-like effect on the skin.”
And is there any merit to the schoolyard taunt that women who have saggier breasts do so because of all the bouncing during sex? “Repeated jolting or bouncing of the breasts without any support can cause discomfort and saggier breasts in the longer term,” says Holmes, “by weakening the Cooper’s ligaments that support the breast tissue.” However, this also applies to running and other high-impact exercise. If you're concerned, Holmes recommends wearing a well-fitting sports bra (if you can find a sexy sports bra).
But both Dr. Holmes and Dr. Prasad are in agreement: Sex can't fundamentally transform your breasts’ size or shape. “Despite playground rumors,” Prasad confirms, “there is no scientific evidence to suggest that frequent sexual activity has any permanent effect on breasts.”
In order to see long-term changes to your breasts, you’d have to undergo a pretty major, life-altering event, like pregnancy. “For the size and shape of your breasts to be significantly altered, the body would need to undergo a prolonged state of hormonal changes, as seen during the nine months of pregnancy,” says Prasad. The contraceptive pill can also affect your breast size and shape, and aging will change their shape.
And if you’re worried about sex causing your breasts to sag: don’t. “Sagging of the breasts, otherwise known as ptosis, is most likely a result of weight loss or aging,” Prasad says. Also, quit the cigarettes: “Sagging may occur prematurely in heavy smokers.” Or you can learn to love it—after all, there’s nothing wrong with saggy breasts.