Breast pain, otherwise known as mastalgia or mastodynia, is a common, often distressing concern among many women. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and include breast tenderness, tightness or sharp, burning pain. The pain can be constant or occur only occasionally.
Breast pain can cause anxiety and fear, prompting many women to seek medical care though breast pain is rarely a presenting symptom of breast cancer.
Hormonal changes are the number one reason women have breast pain. Breasts become sore three to five days before the beginning of a menstrual period. This is due to a rise in estrogen and progesterone right before your period. These hormones cause your breasts to swell and can lead to tenderness. Other causes for breast pain include breast injury, wearing an unsupportive bra, medication side effects, deficiencies in Vitamin E or essential fatty acids or an infection of the breast.
There are many ways to help reduce or eliminate your breast pain, including the following:
- Apply hot or cold compresses on your breasts 3-4 times a day for 20 minutes. You can also use a hot shower or whirlpool.
- Make sure you wear a firm, supportive bra, fitted by a professional if possible and wear a sports bra during exercise.
- Eat a balanced diet to help you get the necessary nutrients, vitamins and minerals.
- Exercise daily to help reduce stress and improve rest.
Although most cases of breast pain are minor problems, it’s important to talk to your doctor about your concerns. Any breast lumps, spontaneous nipple discharge, swelling, redness or unexplained breast pain that doesn’t go away after one or two menstrual cycles or that persists after menopause needs to be evaluated by your doctor. A comprehensive history and thorough breast exam are recommended to evaluate your breast pain.