Milk duct image not quite accurate, but ‘not something to be scared of’

A photo of milk ducts has gone viral on social media and everyone is freaking out – for good reason.

A woman by the name of "Artist formerly known as Byeonce" shared a photo to Twitter of the female muscular system that depicted milk ducts. The image appears to be pulled from an iPad app called Anatomy & Physiology.

"I just realized I never saw a photo of a female muscle system," wrote the woman. "This is NOT what I imagined milk ducts to look like."

She continued, expressing her distress at the realisation of what was going on inside her body.

The responses to the woman's tweet ranged from some sharing in her traumatised feelings to some finding the image to be beautiful and flower-like. Others were just intrigued.

"At first I thought someone put flowers over boobs because art. Now, it looks like a weird alien creature lives inside my body and I'm terrified," one responded on Twitter.

"It's beautiful to me," wrote one commenter. "I breastfed my kids and wow! Those things nourished my babies."

For those of you going into full panic mode, you can rest assured that the image isn't entirely accurate.  They aren't really that symmetrical.

Experts say that, although the image is anatomically correct and is technically what milk ducts look like, the way they're pictured on the muscular system gives off the wrong idea.

Eric Rodriguez, the managing editor of InnerBody says that the lobes in the milk ducts aren't made of muscle and are encased in breast tissue and fat.

"Lobes are not muscle, and that's probably my biggest gripe with photo," Rodriguez says. "Most organs, when you depict them, tend to be red because it's the colour of blood, but when you put it together like this it looks like we have these flower muscles on our breasts and that's not the case."

He adds that the reason the image surprises most people is because of how perfectly symmetrical the lobes are, which wouldn't be the case if they were pictured normally inside the breast.

It's more accurate for breastfeeding women

Dr Donald Matz, the chairman of the anatomy department at Des Moines University, says the photo is accurate for lactating females and those ready to give birth.

Matz says that on a non-lactating female, the glands would be a lot smaller than those pictured in the image.

"The location is accurate, as far as the anatomical location. It's accurate with the glands being swollen. It's not accurate because there's no tissue around it," says Matz who adds that the breast is not normally classified with the muscular system.

Rodriguez notes that it's a good thing that the photo has gone viral.

"It's not something to be scared of, it's something to be fascinated about and learn more about," Rodriguez says.

"These are parts of our bodies that we live with and it's amazing how little we think about how they work."

USA Today

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