How to help with Breast pain.

How to help with Breast pain.


Breast pain is a very common issue for women and teenage girls. 


Sometimes called Mastalgia, breast pain is usually described is mild but can also be moderate or severe in for some women.

Breast pain can be either cyclical or non-cyclical.  Let me explain what this means.

Cyclical means that you feel breast pain every month, coinciding with your period.    Most often, women feel breast pain in the week before your period, during your period, or both.    While it doesn’t occur for everyone, cyclic breast pain is considered normal, and is caused by the normal hormonal fluctuations that occur during the menstrual cycle each month.   It can also be caused by the hormones that are found in birth control pills or postmenopausal hormones.

Usually, cyclic breast pain is in both breast and is diffuse.  This means that the pain isn’t located in one spot, but is spread out.  It might be more severe in the upper outer quadrant of the breasts.   For some women, cyclic breast pain can be disruptive to their daily activity such as, exercising, sleeping, sex or work.


Non-cyclic pain means that the pain does not come and go in association with the menstrual cycle.  It is usually one side and specific to a certain spot on the breast.   There are many different causes for non-cyclical breast pain.  I’m going to go over a few of the causes, but if you are experiencing non-cyclical breast pain, it’s best that you have it checked out by your medical provider.

Some common causes of non-cyclic breast pain include:

  1. Very large breasts.  Large breasts can pull on what’s called “coopers Ligament” and cause pain in the breasts.  Women with very large breasts often experience pain in their back, neck, shoulders and even experience headaches as well.
  2. A breast infection, also called mastitis, is a cause of breast pain.  Most commonly, a mastitis occurs while a woman is breast feeding, but not always.   A breast infection is usually one sided, and most often associated with fevers, body aches and chills.  Usually there is redness and warmth over the infected breast.  If you experience these symptoms, you should get seen by your medical provider.  Most likely, you will need antibiotics.  Less commonly , an infection leads to an abscess that needs to be drained.
  3. Caffeine and smoking. This hasn’t been studied well, but there has been a connection between caffeine consumption and breast pain, and smoking with breast pain. If you drink coffee or smoke and are experiencing breast pain, you should quit to see if the breast pain goes away.   If the pain goes away, do not restart, the breast pain will most likely return.  In the case of smoking, even if your breast pain doesn’t resolve, you shouldn’t go back to smoking due to many other health problems smoking can cause.
  4. Inflammatory breast cancer. Pain with this form of cancer is rarely the only symptom you would be experiencing.  Usually, you will have other breast symptoms as well, including: enlarged breast, red and warm to touch, indentations in the skin, what might look the skin of an orange.  If you have any of these symptoms, you need to seek medical care right away.  If you want to hear more about breast symptoms, click this link to watch a video on breast symptoms you should never ignore.  
  5. Hormone replacement. For postmenopausal women, hormonal replacement medications have been shown to cause breast pain,  This usually goes away on its own.
    Birth control pills and hormone replacements can both cause breast tenderness.
  6. Chest wall pain. Many women who experience chest wall pain underneath their breasts mistake it for breast pain.   Streinuous  upper body work-outs, accidently getting bumped,  a cough or sneeze, all might create inflammation and pain to the chest wall beneath the breast. It may be difiult to tell at times, your medical provider can do an exam to determine if you are experiencing true breast pain, or chest wall pain.
  7. If you are pregnant, the hormone changes often cause both breast to get a little larger, and become tender.  If  you have missed a period, check a pregnancy test
    Causes of breast pain
    Breast pain is very common during pregnancy







There are several other less common causes off breast pain as well.  Bottom line is, if you are having cyclical breast pain, you do not need to see your medical provider for it.  However, if you are having one sided  breast pain that is not associated with your period, its best to see your medical provider to help you find the cause.

Why do my breasts hurt

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