Here's what women's health doctors say about this possible menopause side effect.

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Salma Hayek is opening up about going through menopause, and how menopause has affected her breasts-and the experience is not entirely like what most people imagine.

Hayek, 54, spilled the details on the latest episode of Jada Pinkett Smith's Red Table Talk podcast, saying that she was surprised by the "terrifying" questions she was asked when she first went to the doctor after experiencing signs of menopause.

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Credit: Getty Images

"They were asking me things like, 'Are your ears growing and there's hair growing out of them? Are you growing a mustache and a beard? Are you easily irritable? Are you crying for no reason? Are you gaining a lot of weight really fast that doesn't go away no matter what you do? Are you shrinking?' And then they ask you, 'Is your vagina dry?'" she said.

Hayek says the size of her breasts wasn't mentioned, but she noticed that they grew-a lot. "For some women they get smaller. But there are some women that when you gain weight, your boobs grow, and other women that when you have children and you breastfeed your boobs grow and they don't go back down," she said. "Then, in some of the cases when you are in menopause, they grow again. And I just happen to be one of those women where it happened in every single step."

Hayek said her breasts grew so much that she was asked if she had plastic surgery. "A lot of people said that I had breast augmentation-I don't blame them," she said, adding, "my boobs were smaller. So was the rest of my body."

But, Hayek said, her breasts "have just kept growing-many, many sizes. And my back has been really suffering from it. And not a lot of people talk about this."

Hayek also talked about experiencing mood swings and hot flashes, before stressing that aging shouldn't be viewed as an issue.

"There's no expiration dates for women. That has to go," she said. "You can kick ass at any age. You can hold your own at any age, you can dream at any age, you can be romantic at age. We have the right to be loved for who we are at the place that we are. We're not just here to make babies, we're not just here to baby the man."

Women applauded Hayek's honesty in the comments. "I don't feel so alone after watching this," one wrote. "She's so real…love her!" another said.

While mood swings, weight gain, and irritability are known potential side effects of menopause, growing breasts aren't. Is this a thing?

Can your breasts grow during menopause?

Yep, Salma's experience is shared by many women. "This is a real thing," Lauren Streicher, MD, a professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, and author of the upcoming book, Hot Flash Hell, tells Health. Women's health expert Jennifer Wider, MD, agrees. "It's just one of those things that women can experience during this midlife transition," she explains to Health.

While "many women do get bigger breasts" during menopause, there is less estrogen in your body at that time, a hormone that usually influences breast growth, Mary Jane Minkin, MD, a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology and reproductive sciences at Yale Medical School, tells Health. "It makes no sense whatsoever, but it happens to many women," she says.

Why can your breasts grow during menopause?

There are a few possible factors at play here. One is that some women naturally gain weight during menopause. "During peri-menopause and menopause, there are hormonal fluctuations and eventually a drop in hormones that may cause weight gain," Dr. Wider says. "As a result, some of the weight gain can occur in the breasts, resulting in enlarged breasts."

But it's not all about weight gain. Dr. Streicher says that hormonal shifts during pregnancy can cause a "redistribution" of weight, leading to bigger breasts. Genetics can play a role, too. "If your grandma had a big bosom after menopause, you may too," Dr. Streicher suggests.

Of course, things can go the other way, too. "While some women get bigger breasts, others get smaller or saggier breasts," Dr. Streicher says. The bottom line: "Breast changes in menopause are a real thing," she adds.

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