Is it normal or should I see a doctor? The eternal question every woman has asked herself at one point in her life. This time it’s aimed at sore boobs. The good news is that having tender, sore breasts isn’t anything to be seriously worried about especially if you’re on your period. On the other hand, besides your period, there can be many different causes why your boobies are getting swollen and spilling over your trendiest bra more than once a month.
Just like with any part of your body, you have to listen and examine what your breasts are trying to tell you. Are both your boobs really sore, more than would be deemed normal, or is just one sore breast causing you more headache than usual? Or are your breasts just getting lumpier and heavier occasionally? Here’s some hidden and some not so hidden meaning behind your sore boobs.
Breast soreness can be caused by:
1. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
The main and most common breast tenderness root is your period during which your breasts can swell up and get sore. The main reason behind this is the estrogen change in the body at the start of your period. These pains are typically extra worse for girls going through puberty and older women going into menopause since around this time women have increased hormone fluctuations. The reason why we are feeling sensitivity in our chest around the time of our period is because the milk ducts tend to swell up and trap fluid in the breast. This doesn’t affect only the size and comfort, but it can also be a cause for temporary breast lumps and swelling. But you needn’t worry! Normally this isn’t considered abnormal if it only lasts the same as your period and doesn’t intervene with everyday activities.
How to reduce breast pain before period?
Since we can’t get rid of our period and the ways it affects our body there aren’t any real solutions to this problem. There are, however a few steps that can be followed to help reduce breast tenderness and pain before period and make it less obnoxious when running everyday errands.
- Wear your most comfortable bra
Wearing an appropriate bra may be really essential during period, but it is even more so during everyday life. While the fancy lace bras may look trendy and beautiful, sometimes they’re not best friends with your boobs, causing them to swell and become sore also outside of your period. To begin with, start with a bra made of a breathable material and something not too constricting. Just like with any other part of your body, your boobies should feel comfortable and be able to breathe a little.
Wearing a comfy and breathable bra such as a sports bra can come quite in handy. At least it will give your breasts some rest from the annoying and painful wired bra you wear on the daily. A sports or “the granny bra” will also contain your boobies whilst making sure they move as less as possible without causing more irritation as it is. So a tip would be to purchase a bra intended just for your period. However go looking for it only when on your period, otherwise it really beats the purpose. Alternatively, if you feel comfortable, you can always give your body a break and go bra-free.
- Stick to a healthy lifestyle
With this I don’t mean you have to go to the gym every day and live off of salads. Rather try to consume nutrient full foods at least before and during your period. Even small improvements in your lifestyle and habits can significantly reduce breast pain and tenderness.
One of the main irritators is caffeine and salt. Salt reduces fluid retention whilst caffeine increases levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, in the body. In turn it may interact with other female hormones and cause tender breasts. So the next time you’re trying to get that iced latte from Starbucks instead try ordering, for example, a healthy smoothie to soothe your tender boobs.
Vitamins can help, particularly if you’re lacking some of them. The most recommended vitamins to use for soreness relief are vitamin C, E, B1, magnesium and iron. There are plenty of already made vitamin complexes directly for periods and pain relief during them. Some of them you can check out online.
- Heating or cooling pads
Heat pads can definitely come in handy on your period and they can also help with sore boobs. Of course it’s not going to reduce the swelling altogether, but it can definitely help with soothing the uncomfortable pain. One thing, however, to bear in mind is that each woman prefers a different temperature. You might have to experiment at first to understand whether you like the cool or hot pads better. Some DIY remedies may be a cool compress or just a warm bath/shower.
The second most common reason why your breasts might be feeling sore is pregnancy. Like it or not, but if you’re experiencing breast tenderness and you realize that you period has taken a 2 or 3 week vacation, you should probably get a pregnancy test. The reason why breast sensitivity is an early pregnancy sign is because your progesterone and hormone levels rise – increasing blood flow and causing the change in breast tissue.
Usually sore boobs before pregnancy may seem worse than during PMS, but like with everything, it really depends on the person. The sensitivity usually lasts until the first trimester. With soreness you also might experience lumpiness in your breasts. That usually indicates that breasts are creating milk and the lumps are milk – filled cysts. It might sound quite scary, but during pregnancy it is completely normal and usually isn’t anything to be worried about. However you should inform your doctor about the lumps and keep a close eye to see whether or not they disappear after a while.
Again, we can’t stress this enough – wear an appropriate bra. If breast soreness is caused by pregnancy, there isn’t much that can be done since it’s not anything we are doing that effects the feeling and change in our breasts. The only way we can make our breasts feel a bit more pleasant during pregnancy is a comfortable bra. Sports bra or something resembling it, is the best solution. Special maternity bras are made to take care of breast soreness, growth and potential leaking.
*Seeing a doctor
If your breasts are extremely uncomfortable during the start of your pregnancy you should definitely see a doctor. Mainly visit the doctor just to make sure all is well and your breasts are healthy and able to nurse a baby. A doctor can also recommend special ointments or vitamins that need to be taken to help with the discomfort.
Just when you thought that all of the aforementioned was behind you, your breasts start to act up again. Fortunately, breast pain is usually only a transient symptom of menopause. It will most likely disappear after the transition has taken place.
What happens during perimenopause (pre-menopause) is that your estrogen levels fluctuate leading to breast pain or tenderness. Symptoms of menopause are actually familiar to PMS. Some even liken it to PMS for women in 40’s or 50’s.
Just like with PMS, there are ways to treat the unpleasant symptoms of hormonal fluctuations and they are pretty much the same. Stay healthy, exercise regularly and get some good well-deserved sleep. The only difference to think about is hot flashes and their triggers. In that case, just pay attention to your body and what triggers a hot flash in the first place. May it be coffee or wine, sweets or spicy food – try to avoid what ails you!
4. Birth control pills
If you know for a fact you are not pregnant, because just a week ago you’ve started taking your new birth control pills, the cause for breast discomfort could actually be your birth control.
When you start taking birth control, especially if you have never done it before, it causes your hormones to change – similarly as having a period. So at the start of using birth control you have to let your body get used to the pill and the change in hormones.
As if the pain wasn’t enough, the duration of discomfort when changing or starting birth control can last up to two months. So you might have to feel your breasts being extra sore for a while before them going back to normal.
Other reasons for breast soreness…
Whilst before we focused more on hormonal alteration induced breast pain, there are also some causes for non-hormonal breast pain. So if none of the aforementioned points rang any bells for you, here are a few other reasons behind your breasts acting up.
5. Injury or infection
Breast soreness can also arise from an injury or infection. An infection can be caused from a variety of different things even something small as the removal of nipple hair. It can also be more painful than regular soreness and even some discharge from the nipple can appear.
If your breasts are swollen, however, and you are sure it’s not an infection you should still see a doctor to see if it’s a possible injury. An injury can be treated in a range of ways which typically is determined by the doctor. An infection most likely is treated with antibiotics.
Stress is our health’s worst enemy and it can also affect our breasts. You might feel that your health is getting worse because stress messes both with your mental and physical health. If you don’t want to experience health problems – one of them being swollen, tender breasts, try to take a break from the outside world and go for a vacation. I know, it’s easier said than done, but just do whatever rows your own boat. You might as well just cancel your weekend plans and instead go shopping or binge watch that one show on Netflix you’ve been postponing. The main idea is to, once in a while, just catch some breath from the stress inducing outside world.
7. Not(!) cancer
A lot of woman tend to worry about breast tenderness, thinking it could potentially be or is related to breast cancer. However that is not the case. To ease your mind, barely any breast cancer risk is related to sore boobs. Lumpy breast tissue does make it harder to see and realize if there is a tumor when looking in a mammogram (an imaging test used by doctors to identify abnormalities in your breast tissue). It is nothing to get unnecessary stressed about.
*Although sensitive and sometimes lumpy breasts aren’t usually anything to be worried about, you should see a doctor if you feel lumps in your breasts that stay there long after your period, especially if there are lumps and soreness only in one breast.
Improve your lifestyle!
To sum everything up – lifestyle change can go a long way in improving your well-being. It’s most important to always take care of yourself! Things like a daily walk, reduced caffeine and salt consumption or just meditating for even 5 minutes a day. It will make you that much healthier and help achieve balanced hormone levels to fight breast soreness.
Learning what can fix the problem to make life easier is wonderful. However if you’re the slightest bit worried or scared about your breast health you should definitely see a doctor. Not only breast health, but health in general is extremely important. Remember to see your doctor for a checkup regularly and always listen to your body.