When talking about breast pain - also known as mastalgia or mastodynia - it's important to understand the two main types. One is non-cyclic breast pain. This pain is usually constant, in one area, and as a direct result of physical trauma or arthritis. Cyclic breast pain, however, is more commonly related to menopause and menstruation, and is primarily caused by hormonal fluctuations.
Up to 70% of women experience cyclic breast pain at some point. It can occur right before or during a menstrual period, during pregnancy, or during menopause. There are, however, ways to find relief.
Flax is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and is often recommended as a first-line treatment for breast pain, especially breast pain associated with periods. Flaxseed can be consumed in bread, other baked goods like muffins, and yogurt. Supplements are also available, though they have not been extensively tested.
This herb has been traditionally used in Europe for cyclic breast pain. It is believed that this herb reduces the release of prolactin, which is a hormone that stimulates milk production. During premenstrual syndrome and menopause, this hormone can be wrongly cued and cause sharp pain in one or both breasts. When this hormone production is suppressed, tenderness can subside, as has been found evident in chasteberry studies where the improvements were statistically significant.
Use a Supportive Bra
Breast pain can arise from bras that are too tight or too loose, as well as those that have a poking underwire. Breast shape and size can naturally change over time, so it's good to get fitted and make sure you are wearing the correct size. It's also crucial to use a supportive sports bra during exercise.
Eat Healthy Food
An additional way to help your body is to eat healthy foods. Get enough dark leafy greens and fiber via whole grains throughout your day to keep your body and digestive system functioning properly. Spirulina and wheatgrass are also popular "superfoods" that are rich in essential nutrients.
Erratic shifts in estrogen levels during menopause can cause sharp rushes of pain rather than lingering soreness. Soy and licorice root are top notch when it comes to phytoestrogens, which act like estrogen in the human body.
Whether you have experienced breast pain throughout your whole menstrual life or are suddenly feeling sharp tinges now, it is not easy to go through. While some cases can be barely noticeable, others can be so intense that any physical contact whatsoever will cause pain. These remedies are known to help.
- Gateley, C.A. et al. (1992). Drug Treatments for Mastalgia: 17 years experience in the Cardiff Mastalgia Clinic. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 85(1), 12-15. Retrieved March 14, 2014, fromhttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1293453/
- National Institutes of Health. (2011). Soy: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Retrieved March 14, 2014, fromhttp://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007204.htm
- Ohio State University. (n.d.). Mastalgia (Breast Pain). Retrieved March 14, 2014, from http://medicalcenter.osu.edu/patientcare/healthcare_services/breast_health/common_breast_conditions/mastalgia/Pages/index.aspx
- Rosolowich, V. et al. (2006). Mastalgia. Journal of obstetrics and gynaecology Canada, 28(1), 49-71; quiz 58-60; 72-74. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16533457
- University of Maryland Medical Center. (2011). Flaxseed. Retrieved March 14, 2014, from http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/flaxseed
- Vaziri, F. et al. (2014). Comparing the effects of dietary flaxseed and omega-3 Fatty acids supplement on cyclical mastalgia in Iranian women: a randomized clinical trial. International journal of family medicine, 174532. doi: 10.1155/2014/174532