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Women's Health

Severe Breast Pain

09/01/2010

Question:

I am a 48 yr. old woman that has had a partial hysterectomy at 38 yrs. old. I still have my ovaries. I have some menopausal symptoms but the worst is the severe breast pain that happens twice a month. I have about a week when the swelling goes down and less pain. My usually small breasts have gotten so large that my bras no longer fit. I guess I`m confused because I thought low estrogen was a side effect from menopause but high estrogen makes your breasts large and hurt. I also feel like I am pregnant with strange cravings and strong sense of smell and nausea. Any advice would help as to help relieve this pain as nothing I have tried has worked. Thank you.

Answer:

Although you may have some menopausal symptoms, it does not necessarily mean that you are still not making adequate estrogen and progesterone. The fact that you had a hysterectomy prevents us from knowing whether you have stopped having periods (which is the true sign of menopause). The normal average age for menopause in women in the US is somewhere around 48-52 years, so you are getting close. If you have not had a recent clinical breast exam, it would be wise to do so. Fibrocystic breast changes is a common cause of periodic breast pain and swelling. If you do have fibrocystic breasts, your doctor may be able to prescribe something to alleviate your symptoms.

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Response by:

W. Fred Miser, MD W. Fred Miser, MD
Professor of Family Medicine
Director of Ohio State Medicine Residency Program
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University