I got my first period at age 12 and I’m not 17-years-old. My boobs have been growing during this period, they stopped when I was 14-years-old because I was anorexic. I think that regressed the development for some time. My anorexia went away, and since I’ve been a healthy weight, my breasts have continued to develop, but really slowly. Should I still be worried that, at age 17, my breasts aren’t fully developed yet? How do you know when they’ve stopped growing?
It sounds to me like the breast development you’ve been experiencing has actually been really normal. Breast growth is a different experience for everyone, but there are still some constants there. From the small amount of information I got from you, it sounds like you’re doing just fine! And yes, that also means the anorexia situation seems okay too – which, by the way, so sorry you went through that! I hope your recover is going well!
But we’re here to talk about boobs, so let’s get back to that. Breast development takes place over a pretty long stretch of time – if we’re being really specific, it goes on for our whole lives. But breast growth doesn’t start to show until the age of puberty, typically age 11 to 13, although it can sometimes start younger or older than that. As puberty begins, the release of estrogen from the ovaries triggers growth, and when you get your first period, the secretory glands start to form. These are the glands that produce milk when a woman nurses, and their development goes hand in hand with your period because it’s your body’s way of getting ready for you to have a baby.
As the glands are forming, fatty tissue develops, which is what makes your boobs look and feel bigger. The whole process can last as long as into a woman’s early twenties, but of course, it’s different for everyone. Some women experience significant growth in their teens, then the growth stops for a bit, and then they experience growth again in their late teens/early twenties. Some women don’t experience growth until they’re over 16-years-old, while others see it almost immediately and drastically. Sometimes growth is super slow, other times, it’s very fast. Sometimes they get bigger, then get smaller. It’s different for everyone!
This means that your situation seems perfectly normal – your breasts were growing when you first started puberty, took a break, and are now growing again. That sounds like you’re on the right path to me! You’re right, though – your eating disorder could have affected your breast development. A significant weight loss can make your breasts smaller, since they’re made of fat (just like a significant gain can make them bigger). On top of that, if anorexia resulted in you being underweight, that can halt development, just like it can stop women from getting their periods.
I don’t know if we can ever truly tell when our breasts have stopped growing. Your boobs will generally stop growing in your early 20s – any changes after that will be from either weight loss or gain, menstruation, or pregnancy. Your boobs can swell in size when you have your period each month. When you get pregnant, your boobs will get bigger as your body prepares for nursing, and a lot of women say their breast size changes forever after that. So, there are a lot of things that could make the size of your boobs change – that’s why there’s no definite answer there.
For now, I would stop focusing on it so much. Your boobs are going to do what your body wants them to do, and there’s not much you can change about that (unless you want plastic surgery). You might have a few more years of growth left in you, but staring at them every single day to see if they’ve changed isn’t going to help. Just let them do their thing!