Breast Pain

What is Breast Pain?

Breast pain is known in medical terms as Mastalgia. It is a condition that many women suffer from or deal with from time to time. It is characterized by pain and or tenderness in the breast. Breast pain can occur in two different ways: cyclic and noncyclic.

Cyclic breast pain is breast pain that corresponds with certain times in a woman’s menstrual cycle. Noncyclic breast pain, on the other hand, shows no correspondence with a woman’s menstrual cycle and does not follow a set pattern. The majority of women who experience breast pain, experience cyclic breast pain rather than noncyclic breast pain.

There are many different possible causes for breast pain. Cyclic breast pain is linked to the menstrual cycle and specifically, the hormonal changes that occur in the body along with menstruation. Breast pain can also be linked to the development of breast cysts or other structural issues with the milk glands.

A traumatic injury or breast reduction or implant surgeries could also cause a woman to experience breast pain. Women with especially large breasts may feel breast pain just due to the breast size. Other causes can include medication use, fatty acid imbalances, or even breast cancer in rare cases.

What are the Symptoms of Breast Pain?

Pain, discomfort, and tenderness are the primary symptoms of mastalgia. A woman may also feel a heaviness or fullness in their breasts along with the soreness and tenderness. Noncyclic breast pain can sometimes feel like it is searing or burning pain in the breasts.

Breast Pain Causes

Breast pain (or tenderness) can be caused by a number of different factors, some of which include menopause, pregnancy, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), intraductal papilloma, ectopic pregnancy, puberty in girls (and sometimes boys), fibrocystic breast tissue, and mastitis (inflammation of breast tissue).

Breast pain can also be caused by certain hormonal medications (like fertility and birth control pills), reproductive hormones associated with your menstrual cycle, a fatty acid imbalance, breast surgery, and breast structure or size. The structure of a woman’s breast often changes after having a baby. Sometimes that change in structure is a result of the changes to the milk glands or ducts.

Medications that can cause breast pain include Anadrol, Methyldopa (Aldomet), certain diuretics, spironolactone (Aldactone), and Chlorpromazine.

 How is Breast Pain Treated?

Over-the-counter, non-prescription pain medications can help to manage and relieve breast pain, especially cyclic breast pain. However, long-lasting and noncyclic breast pain may require other treatments. This can include birth control or other hormone regulators, surgery to remove breast cysts, or other prescription medications to fix fatty acid imbalances, hormone issues, or other health problems that contribute to breast pain.

Breast Pain Prevention

Preventing breast pain is simple. Wearing a sports bra when exercising or using a hot or cold compress on your breasts can help relieve the pain. You should also eliminate or reduce your caffeine intake and purchase a firm support bra if you don’t already have one. A good massage might also do the trick. While showering, try soaping up your breasts and gently massaging them from center to sides.

Cutting back on certain foods can also prevent breast pain. Some foods you should avoid include snack products, cola, tea, coffee, cheese, wine, peanut butter, pickles, chocolate, and mushrooms. Also, limit the amount of sodium in your diet. Since sodium increases water retention and causes the breasts to swell, you’ll likely want to avoid too much of it.

Taking vitamins B6 and E, primrose oil and/or dandelion can treat breast pain. You can find vitamins B6 and E in supplement form or in avocados, wheat germ, spinach, meat, and nuts.

Eating a diet rich in complex carbohydrates and low in fat will also help you reduce or prevent breast pain.

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Last Reviewed:
September 13, 2016
Last Updated:
November 21, 2017