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Published on January 27, 2017

illustration of woman with breast pain

Let’s Talk About Breast Pain and How to Resolve It

We all know why women experience labor pains. I mean it’s written in the Bible after the fall of Adam and Eve. But nowhere in the Bible does it talk about breast pain.

So what is it, why do we get it, what causes it and what does it mean?

Breast pain differs from woman to woman, and what works to relieve breast pain for one does not necessarily work for the next.

The most common cause of breast pain relates to fluctuations in your hormones. We can have breast pain anytime during our menstrual cycle, most commonly during the first few days before it starts. Unfortunately, if you are going through or have been through menopause, you don’t get a pass. Women can see spikes in breast pain during the perimenopausal stage of life. You may still experience breast pain after menopause, especially if you still have your ovaries.

So if you’re thinking I have no ovaries and I still have breast pain how does that work?

The pain can come from fluid buildup. Just like we can have fluid buildup (or edema) in our lower extremities, we can get the same edema in our breasts. Ever had the scenario where you had no issues all day, get home and relax and take your bra off and BAM, breast pain? The tight compression holding us together all day -- our bras – is what causes that. When we take it off, fluid can rush to that area and cause pain.

If you wonder about breast pain and cancer, realize that less than 10 percent of women who come to us with breast pain go on to be diagnosed with cancer. Usually when breast pain is the presenting symptom, the tumor or mass in the breast is very large and very evident on physical exam.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t report breast pain to your doctor. If you’re experiencing breast pain, absolutely tell your doctor. We may not find the exact cause of your pain, but the reassurance that comes with completing your imaging and knowing nothing was missed is priceless.

There are multiple over-the-counter medications and supplements that can reduce breast pain, including Tylenol, ibuprofen, vitamin E and Evening Primrose Oil. I’d encourage you to try them and see what helps you. You can also try wearing a very supportive bra or tight cami, because it can reduce that pain. Some folks wear them overnight and that helps.

Breast health concerns are our primary focus, and breast pain is part of it. Try these tips and remember: you have resources to help alleviate that pain.

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