It can come on suddenly—either a dull or stabbing pain in the breast called mastalgia. Even if you know the facts (that breast pain is rarely a symptom of breast cancer) the feeling can be troubling.
So what exactly causes breast pain—and can it be prevented or at least managed?
Before menopause, breast pain is often experienced by women as part of their monthly cycle. Anyone who has been pregnant knows that tender and sore breasts are a part of pregnancy as well. It’s also normal to experience breast pain during the transitional years leading up to menopause.
Are you noticing a trend here? Basically, if you’re a woman with breasts they can hurt from time to time.
This is one time when the truth really does hurt.
Before we get into all that, let’s take a closer look at menopause. Technically speaking, it’s when your periods have stopped for a full year because your body is no longer producing the hormones estrogen and progesterone like it used to.
Most people are aware of symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness and night sweats. But breast pain and menopause can often go hand in hand.
As women enter perimenopause, estrogen and progesterone levels can rise and fall unpredictably. Those hormone spikes can result in breast soreness or pain. So can stress, which we all certainly experience to varying degrees as a part of normal life.
The good news? Once your period stops completely for a full year, breast soreness should lessen.
The other good news? There’s something you can do about the situation. If the pain is sporadic, try taking an over-the-counter pain reliever or see if a warm shower or even a heating pad helps ease your pain.
If your pain or soreness is constant, you’ll need more of a long-term fix. Some people find that quitting smoking and cutting back on caffeine can help. So can wearing a more supportive bra, especially when working out.
Alternative treatments that many people find helpful include supplementing with vitamins B and E or fish oil. Some people also find that acupuncture makes them feel better.
Remember how we said earlier that breast pain is rarely a sign of breast cancer? That’s certainly true, but you nonetheless want to be aware of and responsive to what’s going on with your body.
If you’re experiencing breast pain and find a lump in your breast, it’s important to get it checked out.
While there are many noncancerous conditions that can cause both breast lumps and pain, you’ll still want to find out what’s going on.
The bottom line? You can’t treat pain unless you know what’s causing it.
An effective test in determining breast health is the mammogram. Fisher-Titus is proud to offer the 3D mammogram. Not sure what the difference is between a traditional mammogram and the newest technology? Download our free informational guide to learn more, and whether a 3D mammogram is right for you.