Breast pain, tenderness and soreness is also known as mastalgia. It may come and go in a cyclic manner as during the menstrual periods or it may follow a non-cyclic pattern. There are several causes behind breast pain, tenderness and soreness. Let us examine each one of them in detail.
Causes Of Breast Soreness
Breast Pain During Periods
Breast pain, tenderness and soreness is very common just before the onset of the menstrual cycle. This happens due to a surge in the hormones a week before the period begins. The soreness occurs in the form of breast heaviness, tightness and pain.
The breasts appear bigger, rounder and heavier than normal. The pain occurs in both the breasts and often radiates to the armpits. The pain begins typically a week or ten days before the period starts. It gradually goes away once the periods start.
It is very common in younger women though older women too experience it. The pain can range from moderate to very severe. It does not need any treatment. Wearing good supportive bras and using warm compresses on the breast often helps the breast to heal and become ok.
Breast pain During Pregnancy
Breast pain and tenderness is often confused for a menstrual cycle but it can also indicate a pregnancy. It is often one of the first signs of a pregnancy. Women experience intense breast soreness just after the fertilized egg attaches itself to the lining of the uterus.
The soreness is profound and sometimes lasts until about the end of the first trimester. The soreness and pain occur due to the surge in the hormone progesterone as well as the HCG hormone, which increases after the pregnancy gets confirmed. The breasts continue to feel heavy, sore and tender for a good 2-3 months until the hormones stabilize.
Breast Pain During Breastfeeding
This pain can be very excruciating. It is also known as breast engorgement. It occurs when the milk comes into the breasts due to which the breasts become enormous, firm and start to hurt. Since the demand and supply of milk is yet to be established, the milk comes out in abundance.
This makes the breasts and nipples extremely sore and painful. Feeding the baby every 2 hours can regularize the milk supply and reduce the breast pain and soreness. In very severe cases, a condition called as mastitis occurs in which the breast ducts producing milk are infected or blocked. This can lead to a massive breast infection in which the fluid or the pus may have to be surgically drained.
Breast Soreness due to Exercise
This sort of pain is very routine and common especially when you start a new exercise programme. Women who weight train for the first time in which they exercise their pectoral muscles, experience tremendous breast soreness for 2-3 days after the workout.
This happens due to typical breast exercises like the bench press and dumbbell chest presses that lead to soreness in the pectoral muscles. This can be relieved by gentle stretching.
Lumps in the breast can also cause breast pain and soreness. These of course need to be further investigated. Usually an ultrasound will diagnose the presence of cysts and lumps in the breast.
These can further be assessed with the help of a mammogram in order to detect whether the lumps and cysts are cancerous or not. Breast cancer is one of the most fatal diseases of women and should be given its due attention.
It has been seen and observed that women who undergo cyclic breast pain during their periods are also very sensitive to caffeine. Caffeine has an effect of dilating the blood vessels and making the breasts more tender, painful and swollen.
Animal Foods and fatty Foods
Excess consumption of animal and fatty foods especially during intense phases of cyclic breast soreness could aggravate the pain and make matters worse. This has a lot to do with the presence of animal hormones in fatty foods.
Wearing an Incorrect Bra
Wearing the right bra makes all the difference in the world. Some top-heavy women with large breasts prefer to go braless or wear bras with tight under wires. This can constrict the breast tissue and give rise to breast soreness and pain. Not wearing the right supportive bra can also lead to a lot of pain in the breasts.
The use of oral contraceptives has been closely linked with breast pain and soreness. Oral contraceptives have differing doses of estrogen and progesterone that prevent ovulation from occurring. Women taking oral contraceptives could also be suffering from breast soreness and pain.
Breast surgery done to the breasts during a mastectomy, breast augmentation or the placement of a breast implant can all lead to tissue scarring, trauma and pain.
Surgery done on the breast is likely to leave the breasts feeling tender and sore until the site of the incision heals. Accidents to the chest wall can also lead to significant amounts of breast pain.
Fatty acid Imbalances
A fatty acid imbalance could also lead to breast pain. Imbalances in the fatty acids of the body can make the body more susceptible to the circulating hormones epically during cyclic changes. This can be easily corrected through fatty acids supplementation. For example, many women benefit after taking supplements of evening primrose oil, which reduces the fatty acid imbalance, which may have occurred in the body.
Medications used During Infertility Treatments
The standard medications used during infertility treatments could also alter the levels of hormones in the body thus making your breasts very sensitive to the hormonal changes. That is why there are a lot of women who undergo breast pain even after menopause especially if they have been on HRT. Menopause is another cyclical reason for breast pain.
Some women have uncomfortably large breasts, which could lead to a lot of pain in their chests, back and the neck region. This can be corrected either through breast augmentation or by wearing the correct supportive bra.