Breast pain is an unpleasant but normal and anticipated condition that occurs before period. It may appear up to 2 weeks before the expected period (ie from ovulation and onwards), worsens over the course of days and disappears as soon as the period is over.
By "breast pain" we mean every level of discomfort or pain in one or both breasts.
Medicine has not yet fully understood the causes of pain, but is aware that it is due to the sudden change in key hormone levels.
Why is there breast pain before period?
Lowering estrogen and progesterone levels before the period is the main reason for breast pain. It can also cause swelling of the lymph nodes, which can increase the discomfort or pain.
Prolactin is another culprit for breast pain. Although it is the hormone needed to produce milk after birth, it is present in the female body, and can affect the breasts even if a woman has not recently given birth.
What does breast pain feel like?
Breast pain before period may have all or some of the following symptoms:
- It's a "dull", continuous pain.
- It occurs in one or both breasts.
- It extends sometimes to the armpit.
- It is accompanied by swelling.
- It is more intense around the nipple.
What can I do to reduce or eliminate breast pain?
Usually pain soothes or disappears with Ibuprofen or Paracetamol. Contraceptives also help regulate hormones.
To naturally reduce the intensity of the pain, you can use a more comfortable bra than usual, wear a supportive bra during sleep, reduce the consumption of caffeine and soft drinks, and reduce salt consumption.
When is breast pain not pain before the period?
Sometimes there may be breast pain, however, not due to hormones but to:
- injuries or dislocations in the areas of the neck, shoulder or back.
- side effects of some contraceptives or antidepressants.
- conditions such as mastitis or breast abscess (in these cases you will have other symptoms besides chest pain).
When is breast pain not innocent?
If along with your usual breast pain before period you notice any of the following symptoms, you should contact your doctor immediately as this may hide a greater threat.
- There are one or many small lumps in your breast that hurt on touch.
- You see nipple discharge that contains blood or smell badly.
- The pain does not disappear after the period but persists for weeks.
- A pain that is so acute that it does not let you do your everyday activities.
- There are signs of infection such as fever, redness on the breast.
- One or both breasts have changed shape.
- The breast skin is like "orange peel".
- The nipple has sunk into the breast.
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