NetWellness experts receive many questions about breast pain. Most women these days are very concerned about breast pain because of the link between this symptom and breast cancer. The good news about breast tenderness is that it is very common, very normal, and very rarely indicative of a serious condition.
Fluctuating Hormones: The primary cause of breast pain for pre-menopausal, non pregnant, healthy women is fluctuating hormones. During a month a woman’s hormone levels shift and change as an egg develops, is released, and if no conception takes place, is expelled. This in and of itself can lead to breast pain. Further, consequential water retention can make your breasts more tender.
Injury: Breast pain can also be caused by injury in which case, if the pain worsens, doesn’t stop, or keeps coming back you should seek medical attention.
Infection: You should tell your doctor if the pain doesn’t stop or is accompanied by other symptoms such as:
- unusual discharge
- a sensation of heat beneath the skin
- a rash on the skin
- inverted nipples
These are classic indicators of an infection. These symptoms may also be an indication of a lesser known but serious condition called inflammatory breast cancer.
Pregnancy: Pregnancy can also lead to breast tenderness again because of hormone fluctuations but also due to swelling of the breasts as milk production begins. And, of course, once you start breast feeding you may experience some tenderness.
Some options that have both been shown to improve breast pain include:
- Wearing a support bra
- Taking over the counter anti-inflammatory pain medication
- In cases of severe pain, taking prescription drugs such as Danazol
- Decrease caffeine intake
- Smoking cessation
- Over the counter supplements: evening primrose oil and flax seed, taken 3 times per day are effective in some women
What you Can Do
Staying familiar with how your breasts normally feel and fluctuate throughout the month by conducting regular breast self exams is a great way to stay healthy, give yourself some peace of mind, and ensure your continued health in the future.
If you’re in pain and you suspect it isn’t normal do not hesitate to visit your doctor. He or she can discuss your symptoms with you and develop a treatment plan.
More features about Breast Health
Breast cancer is a serious disease but it is treatable if caught early on. The NetWellness features listed below contain information regarding general breast health.
- Breast Lumps
- Breast Cancer
- Inherited Breast Cancer
- The Breast Self-Exam (Minority Health Initiative)
- Breast Lump Self Exam
For more information:
Go to the Women’s Health health topic.