The Chronicle

Salma confronts a growing issue



Most of us know about menopausal mood swings, the aches and pains, the lack of libido and the gradual demise of our periods. But did you know that for many women, menopause can also bring about changes in the size of our breasts?

It’s an issue recently flagged by actor Salma Hayek, 54, who said she was often crippled by back pain because her bust had increased, similar to when she put on weight while pregnant.

But because side effects like ever-expanding boobs are “not very openly discussed in our culture, many of the symptoms that arise for women are a shock and often quite debilitati­ng,” says naturopath Lauren Jane, from Happy Healthy You.

“The drastic shift in mood, vaginal dryness, severe brain fog and loss of libido are the big ones as they impact not only a woman’s intimate relationsh­ip but also her working life and capabiliti­es.”

And yes, add bigger bust size to that list. “According to the research about one in five women experience an increase in breast size when entering menopause,” says Lauren.

“It can actually be due to an excess – or a deficiency – of oestrogen, which promotes, maintains, and controls the distributi­on of our body fat.”

During perimenopa­use our oestrogen levels peak and trough as our cycle begins to change. These hormonal fluctuatio­ns make us more prone to weight gain and fluid retention, both of which affect breast size and sensitivit­y.

“Then as we hit menopause,” says Lauren, “our ovaries stop producing oestrogen completely and the natural shift is for our breast and fat tissue to become sources of oestrogen, which is again why we see enlargemen­t of breast tissue and fat around the belly and hips.”


“‘Oestrogen dominance’ is the term we use when a woman has either too much oestrogen in her body, or normal oestrogen and too little progestero­ne,” says Lauren.

“There is also one other circumstan­ce that causes an increase in breast size during menopause,” Lauren continues, “and that is when our body is unable to efficientl­y clear out unwanted oestrogens from the body. This usually happens when our liver and/or bowels are not functionin­g optimally and instead of old oestrogens being deactivate­d and removed, they’re reabsorbed in our bloodstrea­m.

This oestrogen ‘excess’ causes glands to swell, trapping fluid in the breasts and can also happen if a woman uses hormone replacemen­t therapy (HRT) or is exposed to environmen­tal oestrogens known as ‘xenoestrog­ens’ that comes from plastics like our water bottles.”

If you’re feeling discomfort from disproport­ionate boob growth and tenderness, you’ll be looking for ways to ease your pain. Especially as the hormones that cause an increase in breast size can also cause soreness, cyclical swelling, lumpiness or heaviness.

The good news? Hormonal breast soreness usually stops with menopause, although it might continue if you are taking HRT.


Ensure you make daily bowel motions: Fibre is your friend! Eat chia, flax, hemp and legumes: fibre binds to old hormones and removes them via bowel motions. Consume fermented foods and drinks: This feeds your good bugs. A healthy microbiome stops recirculat­ion of bad oestrogen that is otherwise reabsorbed.

Limit caffeine and alcohol intake.

Increase electrolyt­e intake: This offsets the body’s natural inclinatio­n to retain fluids.

Use cabbage leaves: Steamed them whole until soft and lay them over your breasts. This helps to eliminate congestion of fluid. Move your body: Try a rebound trampoline. This promotes lymphatic flow and ensures healthy clearance of wastes.

Get your iodine levels tested: Without adequate iodine, breast tissue is susceptibl­e to being stimulated by the effects of oestrogen, which may result in microcysts that can then lead to fibrocysti­c breast disease.

Extra support from supplement­s: Consider phytochemi­cals, like DIM or I3C, which specifical­ly work to normalise our oestrogen levels. Try liver-loving herbal medicines like St Marys thistle, globe artichoke and dandelion root.

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 ??  ?? Salma Hayek has struggled with back pain as her boobs have grown during menopause, and inset, Happy Healthy You founder and naturopath Lauren Jane .
Salma Hayek has struggled with back pain as her boobs have grown during menopause, and inset, Happy Healthy You founder and naturopath Lauren Jane .

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