Does Breast Size Matter? [2022 Facts and Statistics]

We have gathered all facts on how women feel about the size of their boobs and what size men prefer. Now the question is: Does breast size matter? Read on:

does breast size matter

Breasts are one of the most universally beautiful aspects of the human form. Regardless of gender or sexuality, no one is above respectfully appreciating a great pair of breasts.

But why exactly do boobs spark such an intense interest in humans – so intense that many societies try to censor them? Where does the cultural fascination with breast-related exercise, surgery, and clothing come from?

Does breast size matter? Yes, but not for the reasons you may think. Let’s dive into the numbers on preferred breast sizes around the world, cosmetic breast surgeries, how breasts affect health, and more. 

Here’s some of the best breast data we found in our research:

  • Being hungry causes a man to find larger breasts significantly more attractive.
  • 34% of women reported being dissatisfied with their breasts in 1998. 
  • Women with larger breasts are more susceptible to respiratory infections, and it lasts twice as long when they catch a cold. 
  • 70.7% of women are dissatisfied with the size of their breasts. 
  • Nearly half of both men (48.5%) and women (52.3%) think a C cup is the ideal breast size. 
  • According to one study, the average American cup size was 34B in 1983 but increased significantly to 34DD in 2013. 
  • 7 in 10 American women wear bras that are too small. 
  • One study found that average breasts are not perceived as less attractive than large breasts. 
  • One survey found that more men (35.3%) prefer large breasts than women (30.5%), but more men (11%) also prefer small breasts than women (9.1%).

Does Breast Size Matter? How Women REALLY Feel

The first and foremost opinion on breasts should always come from the chest they rest on. Unfortunately, societal pressures, unrealistic beauty standards, or a number of other factors can cause insecurity and dissatisfaction for many women. 

Here’s a look at how some women may feel about their breasts: 

  • A woman’s self-esteem is largely impacted by her breast size. Physical appearance is often directly related to self-confidence. (HuffPost, 2016)1
    • Some women feel their breasts are too small, too big, uneven, or just too normal. 
    • Being dissatisfied with your breasts will affect your self-image and lower your self-esteem.
  • One study found that 70.7% of women were dissatisfied with the size of their breasts: (Body Image, 2020)2
  • A woman’s self-esteem is largely impacted by her breast size. Physical appearance is often directly related to self-confidence. (HuffPost, 2016)1
    • Some women feel their breasts are too small, too big, uneven, or just too normal. 
    • Being dissatisfied with your breasts will affect your self-image and lower your self-esteem.
  • One study found that 70.7% of women were dissatisfied with the size of their breasts: (Body Image, 2020)2
  • 47.5% of women wanted larger breasts.
  • 23.2% of women wanted smaller breasts.
  • 29.3% were satisfied with their current breast size.
  • Being highly dissatisfied with your breasts is linked to higher weight/appearance dissatisfaction, poorer breast awareness, and poorer psychological well-being. (Body Image, 2020)2

What is the Ideal Breast Size?

While the numbers on “ideal breast size” vary by gender and geography, the surprising commonality is that the highest percentage of people typically prefer average breasts. 

That being said, there are plenty of people who prefer each size of breast, and the following surveys aren’t an indicator of overall beauty or personal worth:

  • One survey asked men and women what they thought was the ideal breast size: (ZavaMed, n.d.)3
    • Small – 11% of men, 9.1% of women
    • Average – 53.6% of men, 60.4% of women
    • Large – 35.3% of men, 30.5% of women
  • The same survey also asked both men and women what they thought the ideal cup size was: (ZavaMed, n.d.)3
    • AA cup – 0.8% of men, 0.3% of women
    • A cup – 3.4% of men, 1.9% of women
    • B cup – 19.8% of men, 25.8% of women
    • C cup – 48.5% of men, 52.3% of women
    • D cup – 18.8% of men, 14.4% of women
    • DD cup – 7.1% of men, 3.9% of women
    • DDD cup – 0.7% of men, 0.8% of women
    • E Cup – 0.8% of men, 0.7% of women
  • Both men and women preferred C cup breasts the most, although slightly more men prefer D and DD cups than women. (ZavaMed, n.d.)3
  • In most of Europe – including Spain, Austria, the Netherlands, Portugal, and the U.K. – the highest percentages of men and women agreed that a C cup was the ideal breast size. (ZavaMed, n.d.)3
  • Germany, France, and Italy had the most surgical breast procedures (implants, lifts, reductions, etc.) in 2015 for all of Europe. (International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, 2016)4
  • The U.S. had the highest number of breast procedures of any nation (540,000) in 2015, but Germany had nearly 4% (100,000 procedures) of all breast-related surgery worldwide that year. (International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, 2016)4
  • In some countries, the most preferred breast size is the same as their national average. In others, it’s a cup above or below: (ZavaMed, n.d.)3
    • The U.S., Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain preferred breast sizes one cup larger than their national averages. 
    • Poland and Romania’s most preferred breast size is one cup smaller than their national averages.
    • In the U.K., Belgium, and France, the most preferred breast size is the same as their national averages. 
  • One survey asked about an individual’s personal satisfaction with their partner’s breasts, with the following results: (ZavaMed, n.d.)3
    • 69.7% were satisfied
    • 20.9% were neutral
    • 9.4% were dissatisfied

Average Breast Size for Women: Comparing Breast Sizes in the US to Other Countries

The average breast size in the U.S. has been increasing for a few decades, and a few surveys show American women having the largest average cup size in the world.

The U.S. also leads the world in breast implants, though, so you might want to take that with a grain of salt. On the other hand, 7 out of 10 American women wear bras that are too small, so the average size may be even larger.  

Here are the numbers:

  • One study found that the cup size of the average American woman had increased from 24B in 1983 to 34DD in 2013. (Racked, 2013)5
  • Another source found that the average had grown to 36C from 24B in only 15 years.  (Lingerie Diva, 2021)6
  • One study, however, found that most women (80%) wear incorrectly sized bras: (Chiropractic & Osteopathy, 2008)7
    • 70% wear bras that are too small
    • 10% wear bras that are too big
  • Breast size and body mass index (BMI) are closely related, and more weight often leads to bigger breasts. The following 11 countries have the largest average breast size and average BMI. (World Population Review, 2022)8
    • USA – C (29.0)
    • United Kingdom – C (27.1)
    • Venezuela – B-C (26.9)
    • Colombia – B-C (26.7)
    • Sweden – B-C (25.4)
    • Netherlands – B-C (25.3)
    • Canada – B-C (26.7)
    • Georgia – B (27.7)
    • Australia – B (26.8)
    • Bosnia and Herzegovina – B (25.3)
    • Switzerland – B (23.8)
  • This is a list of surveyed countries ranked from top to bottom based on cup size alone. BMI is included but doesn’t affect the order. (World Population Review, 2022)8
    • 1. United States – C (29)
    • 2. United Kingdom – C (27.1)
    • 3. Russia – B-C (26.7)
    • 4. Colombia – B-C (26.7)
    • 5. Canada – B-C (26.7)
    • 6. Poland – B-C (26.1)
    • 7. Netherlands – B-C (25.3)
    • 8. Denmark – B-C (24.6)
    • 9. Australia – B (26.8)
    • 10. Hungary – B (26.6)
    • 11. Ireland – B (27.1)
    • 12. Albania – B (26.4)
    • 13. Brazil – A-B (26.8)
    • 14. Germany – A-B (26)
    • 15. Spain – A-B (25.1)
    • 16. Chile – A-B (28.2)
    • 17. Romania – A-B (26.8)
    • 18. Greece – A-B (26.9)
    • 19. Austria – A-B (24.7)
    • 20. Slovakia – A-B (25.6)
    • 21. Costa Rica – A-B (28)
    • 22. Lithuania – A-B (26.1)
    • 23. India – A (21.9)
    • 24. Mexico – A (28.5)
    • 25. Italy – A (24.9)
    • 26. Algeria – A (26.5)
    • 27. Iraq – A (29.7)
    • 28. Saudi Arabia – A (29.4)
    • 29. Kazakhstan – A (26.6)
    • 30. Ecuador – A (27.9)
    • 31. Paraguay – A (26.9)
    • 32. Libya – A (29.5)
    • 33. Turkmenistan – A (26.6)
    • 34. Moldova – A (27.5)
    • 35. Cyprus – A (26.2)
    • 36. Belize – A (30.6)
    • 37. Greenland – A (26.7)
    • 38. China – AA-A (23.5)
    • 39. Ethiopia – AA-A (21)
    • 40. Angola – AA-A (24.2)
    • 41. Mozambique – AA-A (23.4)
    • 42. Chad – AA-A (21.9)
    • 43. Qatar – AA-A (30.2)
    • 44. Namibia – AA-A (25.4)
    • 45. Botswana – AA-A (26.3)
    • 46. Latvia – AA-A (26.4)
    • 47. Bangladesh – AA (21.8)
    • 48. Philippines – AA (23.5)
    • 49. Vietnam – AA (21.7)
    • 50. Thailand – AA (25)
    • 51. Uganda – AA (23.2)
    • 52. Malaysia – AA (26.1)
    • 53. Yemen – AA (24)
    • 54. Ivory Coast – AA (24.2)
    • 55. Niger – AA (22.3)
    • 56. Taiwan – AA (23.7)
    • 57. Malawi – AA (23.2)
    • 58. Senegal – AA (24.1)
    • 59. Cambodia – AA (22.2)
    • 60. Zimbabwe – AA (25.4)
    • 61. Guinea – AA (23.4)
    • 61. Burundi – AA (21.5)
    • 62. Tunisia – AA (27.2)
    • 64. Laos – AA (23)
    • 65. Kyrgyzstan – AA (27.2)
    • 66. Lebanon – AA (27.5)
    • 67. Mongolia – AA(26.6)
    • 68. Gambia – AA (24.5)
    • 69. Bahamas – AA (28.9)

What Determines Breast Size?

Are women born with predetermined breast size, or is it shaped by their lifestyle? The nature versus nurture argument for breast size is a bit complicated, but suffice it to say that it’s a little bit of both. 

Take a look at these data points on the causes of breast size:

  • One study found that the heritability (whether or not it’s genetically passed down from parent to child) of bra size is 56%. (International Society for Twin Studies, 2010)9
    • Of the genetic variance determining breast size, one-third is common with genes influencing body mass index. 
    • Two-thirds are unique to breast size. 
  • Breast size is affected by a variety of other factors, including: (Healthline, 2019)10
    • Weight – Breast tissue density is composed mainly of fat, so weight impacts breast size. 
    • Exercise – Pectoral exercises can build muscle behind the breasts, making them look perkier or slightly larger. This doesn’t affect actual breast size, but it does change the appearance. 
    • Pregnancy and breastfeeding – Hormonal changes cause breast swelling during pregnancy and breastfeeding. 

Do Men Prefer Bigger Breasts?

Breast size is associated with a plethora of odd social prejudices and evolutionary impulses that affect male attraction. Breast size attraction can vary based on a desire to have children, blatant sexism, or even just being hungry. But, by and large, average-sized breasts are the most commonly preferred. 

Don’t lose any sleep over it, though. The men in these studies didn’t hesitate to enjoy all the breast sizes they were shown, regardless of which one they rated the most attractive.

  • Society associates larger breasts with higher reproductive efficiency, lactational efficiency, sexual desire, and promiscuity. (Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2019)11
    • In reality, one study found that large breasts were not regarded as more attractive than average ones; small breasts, however, were found to be least attractive. 
    • Big-breasted women were seen as less faithful and less intelligent than women with small or average breasts. 
  • Men who are hungry will see large breasts as significantly more attractive than men who are satiated. (Public Library of Science, 2013)12
  • Large breasts and a smaller waist-to-hip ratio are linked to a greater likelihood of conceiving children; men who want children prefer these physical traits. (Psychology Today, 2013)13
  • Many studies show that large breasts are not always preferred: 
    • A study of breast preference across four unique cultures found that most men prefer medium-sized breasts. (Evolution and Human Behavior, 2016)14
    • One study analyzed men’s attitudes toward women and breast size preference and discovered the following: (Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2013)15
      • Medium breasts were most frequently rated attractive (32.7%)
      • Large breasts were rated second (24.4%)
      • Very large breasts were rated third (19.1%)
      • Men who preferred large breasts had a significant tendency to demonstrate hostility towards women, sexual objectification, or benevolent sexism.  
    • In a 1968 study, men rated large breasts as more attractive than small ones, but moderate-sized breasts were preferred over the largest size. (Psychology Today, 2020)16

Why Do Women Have Uneven Breasts?

Asymmetrical breasts can be a huge source of insecurity for some women. But, in reality, they are so common that over half of all women have them. 

Here are the facts on uneven breasts:

  • When one breast has a different size, volume, position, or form than the other, it’s referred to as breast asymmetry. (Healthline, 2018)17
    • More than half of women have asymmetrical breasts; they can be caused by puberty, trauma, or hormonal changes. 
  • 91% of women who request breast implants have asymmetrical breasts. (Very Well Health, 2021)18
  • Researchers speculate that the following factors may cause breast asymmetry: (Very Well Health, 2021)18
    • Some women simply have more breast tissue cells on one side for no clear reason. 
    • These cells can be more sensitive to estrogen, which causes breasts to grow. 
    • Usually, with time, many asymmetrical breasts can even out. 

Breast Implants in the U.S. 

Millions of women around the world have breast implants, and research suggests that most of them are happy about it. 

The U.S., however, has more implants than any other country in the world:

  • Over 1.5 million American women had silicone breast implants in 2000. (Institute of Medicine, 2000)19
  • In 1998, 34% of women reported being dissatisfied with their breasts. (Institute of Medicine, 2000)19
  • Since 2000, there has been a 70% increase in breast lifts and 37% growth in breast augmentation surgeries in the U.S. (HuffPost, 2016)1
  • Breast implants don’t necessarily last forever, and many women need follow-up treatments or replacements: (Institute of Medicine, 2000)19
    • One study found that 16% of women with saline implants required replacements.
    • Another study found an 18% implant loss in women with gel implants or submuscular expanders.  
  • As many as two-thirds of women reported being very satisfied with their breast implants. (Institute of Medicine, 2000)19

The Impact of Breast Size on Health

While some women may wish they had bigger breasts, others deal with serious health problems and discomfort due to their size. 

Respiratory infections, trouble exercising, and back pain are just a few issues faced by large-breasted women:

  • One study of women over the age of 40 found that with each increase in their Breast Size Score (BSS roughly translates to one cup size in Australian bra size measurements), the following was true: (Women’s Health, 2020)20
    • 13% more likely to experience upper back pain. 
    • 49% more likely to be embarrassed by their breasts. 
    • 55% more likely to want to change their breasts. 
    • 27% more likely to have their bra professionally fitted, but 16% less likely to be satisfied with their bra fit.
  • An Australian study found that women with hypertrophic (problematically overgrown) breasts engaged in significantly less vigorous intensity and total overall physical activity.  (Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 2018)21
  • A high percentage of women with large or hypertrophic breasts believed that their breast size affected the amount and intensity of their physical activity. (Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 2018)21
  • Larger breasts bounce more and cause embarrassment during exercise, which can lead to a sedentary lifestyle that contributes to diabetes, heart problems, weaker bones, hypertension, etc. (HealthShots, 2021)22
  • Research shows that breast size can affect the way a woman’s body fights off the common cold: (HealthShots, 2021)22
    • Women with larger breasts are more likely to get respiratory infections, and when they catch a cold, it lasts twice as long as in women with smaller breasts. 
    • The high number of fat cells in larger breasts produces leptin hormone, which weakens the immune system’s ability to fight infections.
  • Women with larger breasts and smaller waists have higher fertility due to a higher level of estradiol (the female reproductive hormone). (HealthShots, 2021)22
  • While breast size is not definitively linked to cancer, there are some unproven links that may increase the risk: (HealthShots, 2021)22
    • It may be more difficult for doctors to find and diagnose cancer lumps in large breasts than in smaller ones. 
    • Obesity increases the chance of breast cancer, and obese women typically have larger breasts. 
  • Women unsatisfied with their breasts for any reason – too large, too small, or asymmetrical – are more likely to suffer from low self-esteem and poor emotional well-being. (HealthShots, 2021)22

Breast Reduction Methods

Reducing the size of one’s breasts can be medically necessary. But, even if it isn’t life-or-death, a breast reduction can drastically improve the quality of life for some heavy-chested women.

Here’s a look at how breast reduction operations are performed:

  • Breast reduction surgery removes extra fat, tissue, and skin from your breasts. It can be helpful for women who experience pain or other symptoms from large or hypertrophic breasts. Here are some common breast reduction operations: (Web MD, 2020)23
    • Liposuction – A procedure where the surgeon makes small cuts in the skin and inserts a vacuum tube that sucks out fat and fluids. This option is best for small reductions. 
    • Vertical or “lollipop” – This procedure is for visible sagging and moderate reductions; the surgeon cuts around the areola to the crease of the breast, removing extra tissue and fat, then reshaping and lifting the breasts. 
    • Inverted-T or “anchor” – This procedure is best for large reductions or heavy sagging; the surgeon cuts from the edge of the areola to the breast crease and underneath. 

Conclusion

Breasts come in all shapes and sizes. They vary in size throughout the world, but an average-sized bosom is the most commonly preferred in most countries. 

It’s important to separate societal satisfaction from personal satisfaction when it comes to breasts. For heterosexual women seeking sexual validation, male preferences on breast size can range from arbitrary to toxic. Men can prefer large breasts due to personal aesthetic preferences, sexist or oppressive attitudes, or – oddly enough – just because they’re hungry

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. Research suggests that women gain more personal benefit from the actions they take to shape their breasts than from the interest others show toward them. In addition, the majority of women with breast implants are very happy with them, and women who get breast reductions experience less pain and discomfort than they did before. 

Still, most women are dissatisfied with their breasts, causing poorer self-esteem and psychological well-being. For self-confidence and mental health, breast size does matter.

Footnotes

  1. HuffPost, 2016. An article on the characteristics of female breast size authored by health expert Stacey Chillemi.
  2. Body Image, 2020. A study on how women feel about their breast sizes conducted on 18,451 women from 40 different nations.
  3. ZavaMed, n.d. A survey conducted by Zava Med on 1,000 Americans and 1,000 Europeans to determine opinions on preferred breast size and attractiveness.
  4. International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, 2016. A global survey on cosmetic plastic surgery rates around the world by procedure and country.
  5. Racked, 2013. An article describing an increase in the national average breast size in the US using data from Intimacy, a national lingerie retailer.
  6. Lingerie Diva, 2021. An article on the increase in average American breast size citing a book on the history of breasts.
  7. Chiropractic & Osteopathy, 2008. A study on the link between breast size, bra fit, and back pain in young women.
  8. World Population Review, 2022. A statistical report on the body mass index (BMI) and breast size of women in several countries throughout the world.
  9. International Society for Twin Studies, 2010. A study conducted on 1,010 female twins to determine the genetic heritability of breast size in women.
  10. Healthline, 2019. An article medically reviewed by Deborah Weatherspoon, Ph.D., MSN, that covers the basic facts about breast size and factors that cause variance.
  11. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2019. A research article using the results of two studies to differentiate between stereotypical and actual associations between breast size and mating attraction or traits.
  12. Public Library of Science, 2013. A study on how men perceive breasts relative to resource security conducted on 66 hungry and 58 satiated men.
  13. Psychology Today, 2013. An article authored by Vinita Mehta, Ph.D., Ed.M., that explores the factors that cause men’s preference for breast size to vary.
  14. Evolution and Human Behavior, 2016. A study on the effect that a culture has on breast preference that surveyed the breast-size preferences of men across four unique cultures.
  15. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2013. A study on the correlation between sexist or oppressive beliefs held by men and their preference for breast size in women.
  16. Psychology Today, 2020. An article written by Robert D. Martin, Ph.D., on the degree to which breast size plays a role in sexual attraction; it uses data from a 1968 study of 95 heterosexual men and their preferences for different female body parts.
  17. Healthline, 2018. An article medically reviewed by Deborah Weatherspoon, Ph.D., MSN, that explains asymmetric breasts and whether or not they could be related to cancer.
  18. Very Well Health, 2021. An article on breast asymmetry, its causes, characteristics, and whether or not it could be cause for concern, that uses data from a study of 300 women who requested breast implants.
  19. Institute of Medicine, 2000. A report on a 1998 study of breast implants in the US, their side effects, and the satisfaction reported by women with implants.
  20. Women’s Health, 2020. A cross-sectional study of 269 women over 40 that analyzes the relationship between breast size and health/psychological well-being.
  21. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 2018. A study on the impact of breast size on physical activity in 355 Australian adult women.
  22. HealthShots, 2021. An article on common ways that breast size can impact a woman’s health or daily life.
  23. Web MD, 2020. An article medically reviewed by Hansa D. Bhargava, MD, that outlines and explains the costs, risks, and procedures involved in breast reduction.
Aliyah Moore

Aliyah Moore

Aliyah Moore (she/her) is our resident sex expert at SexualAlpha. She’s a certified sex therapist with a Ph.D. in Gender & Sexuality Studies. Aliyah is a proud Black, bi-sexual femme passionate about empowering minority voices to embrace their sexuality and identity. She loves to write about everything sexual wellness and gives no-nonsense sex and relationship advice.

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