Search tips
Search criteria 


Logo of brmedjLink to Publisher's site
Br Med J. 1977 May 7; 1(6070): 1188–1191.
PMCID: PMC1606822

Changes in breast sensitivity at puberty, during the menstrual cycle, and at parturition.


Sensitivity to pain and touch was measured in the nipple, areola, and cutaneous breast tissue of prepubertal boys and girls, postpubertal men and nuliparous women before and after delivery. Before puberty there were no differences between the sexes, but after puberty the tactile sensitivity of all areas of the women's breast was significantly greater than the men's. Tactil sensitivity of all areas also varied during the menstrual cycle, with maximal sensitivity at midcycle and at menstruation; the mid-cycle peak was absent when the women were taking oral contraceptives. But the most dramatic changes occured within 24 hours of parturition, when there was a great increase in breast sensitivity. This may be the key event for activating the suckling-induced discharge of oxytocin and prolactin and inhibiting ovulation during lactation.

Full text

Full text is available as a scanned copy of the original print version. Get a printable copy (PDF file) of the complete article (866K), or click on a page image below to browse page by page. Links to PubMed are also available for Selected References.

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Milligan D, Drife JO, Short RV. Changes in breast volume during normal menstrual cycle and after oral contraceptives. Br Med J. 1975 Nov 29;4(5995):494–496. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • GUNTHER M. Instinct and the nursing couple. Lancet. 1955 Mar 19;268(6864):575–578. [PubMed]
  • Tyson JE, Friesen HG, Anderson MS. Human lactational and ovarian response to endogenous prolactin release. Science. 1972 Sep 8;177(4052):897–900. [PubMed]
  • Kann G, Martinet J. Prolactin levels and duration of postpartum anoestrus in lactating ewes. Nature. 1975 Sep 4;257(5521):63–64. [PubMed]

Articles from British Medical Journal are provided here courtesy of BMJ Publishing Group