Breast pain is one of the frequent problems for women and it keeps them worried. Breast tenderness (mastalgia) and pain are commonly associated with breast cancer by many women but in reality it is not the only symptom. Women seek medical advice due to the anxiety it causes to them on account of tenderness in their breasts.
Breast pain and tenderness is not prevalent in men and only few men who have gynaeocomastia or any other hormonal problem will have pain. Actual pain is caused in the breast tissue and many women feel their breasts are heavy and full during the onset of menstrual cycle. It is quite common for any women who are in the premenstrual stage to have little tenderness and heaviness in breast. This is due to the hormonal changes indicating that the body prepares itself for monthly cycle.
The symptoms of breast pain and tenderness may vary from mild to severe. Almost every woman who has attained puberty will have some pain in their breasts before each monthly period which will settle down after the menstrual cycle. There will be discomfort in the breasts for 2-4 days before menstrual cycle.
Some women will experience “cobble” like feeling when touching their breasts with fingers. This feeling will be more distinctive in the outer areas of the breasts. It is also accompanied with fullness or heaviness of the breast with moderate to heavy pain. However if you have persistent pain on your breasts, you need to consult your doctor.
Normally the ducts present in the breast become enlarged every month due to the secretion of milk glands. The hormone progesterone triggers the breast lobules to get enlarged each month when it reaches the peak secretion in 21st day of the monthly cycle.
• Menopause and Menstrual Cycle
For women, breast tenderness and heaviness is felt before each monthly period. They are known symptoms of menstruation cycle. The same hormone estrogen can cause breast tenderness during menopause period.
During pregnancy, it is normal for the hormones to reach its peak level which will eventually lead to breast tenderness and swelling. For many women, this heaviness will start just 2-3 weeks after getting pregnant.
• Coffee and other Beverages
Menthylxanthine present in coffee is a chemical which dilates the blood vessel and this may cause breast tenderness. Women who drink lots of coffee and other caffeinated drinks are prone to get breast pain.
• Medications and Contraceptive Pills
To some extent drugs that are given for hormone replacement therapy would cause breast pain and tenderness. Similarly women who take birth control pills are likely to develop moderate breast swelling and pain.
• Fibrocystic Breast
Some changes happen in the breast tissue leading to the development of noncancerous (benign) disease called mammary dysplasia. Increased hormone produced by the ovaries is the reason for tenderness in both the breasts.
Any injury to the breast can cause moderate pain and swelling. It can happen during motor cycle accidents and during sports activities. In case if the pain persists you need to seek medical advice.
Women who have breast pain should wear a good supportive bra of the right size. This is more important while doing exercise and it would certainly help to reduce the soreness. You need to do regular aerobics for getting some relief from the symptoms.
In case of moderate pain you can apply icing on the breasts or apply warm compress alternatively. Hot pads would provide great relief for inflammation and pain on the breasts. If you still have pain, you can take painkiller medications Ibuprofen.
You should make dietary changes for reducing breast swelling and pain. Reduce the salt intake daily since sodium can make the breast tenderness worse. Avoid taking foods rich in sodium content since it has water retaining capacity. Reduce the intake of high fatty foods which would also increase breast pain.
Similarly, reduce sugar consumption which is good for overall health and wellbeing.
In case of severe pain, your doctor may prescribe danazol, or estrogene receptor antagonist pill like tamoxifen or would give a shot of goserelin.