Breast pain, medically known as mastalgia, is experienced by 70 percent of women during their lives, felt as general discomfort, tenderness, or soreness in the breast.1 The sensation can last anywhere between a few hours to several days. While breast pain tends to be a harmless symptom, the onset of sudden breast pain can most certainly be troubling.
Continue reading to discover six causes of sudden breast pain so that you can be more informed about your reproductive health and the subsequent steps to take for ultimate relief.
Though the exact mechanism is yet to be determined, exercise - especially high-impact options, like running or jumping - places tension on supporting structures of the breast, which can cause mastalgia. As a matter of fact, research has found that exercise has a significantly negative impact on breast pain in marathoners.2 Ill-fitting sports bras can be a main cause of exercise-related breast pain. So, ensure your bra is well-fitted with the under band, cup size, shoulder straps, and underwire.
Breast Cyst or Size
Sometimes, sudden breast pain can be caused by cysts in the breast. Although cysts are commonly benign, if you discover one, it is wise to seek out medical advice in order to rule out the threat of serious conditions. The size of the breast itself can also play a role in general breast pain. Those with larger breasts tend to find themselves more susceptible to pain as the weight stretches the supporting ligaments.
Stress and anxiety can culminate and trigger many menopause symptoms, including seemingly sudden breast pain. Studies have found that aside from physical factors, such as exercise, both are psychological factors that should also be contemplated in the cause of mastalgia.3 Therefore, it is advised that women take steps to regulate their stress levels by engaging in regular exercise (with a proper-fitting sports bra), yoga, meditation, or any other means to improve overall well-being.
Injury or Trauma
Having injury or trauma to the breast tissues may be one of the most obvious causes of sudden breast pain. This can result from bumping up against something, falling, or working out without proper support consistently. While the symptoms usually disappear on their own within a few days, women may seek quick relief options, which can include applying an ice pack throughout the days following.
Sudden breast pain can also be experienced as a side effect of taking oral contraceptives, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), heart medications, or antidepressants, among other drugs. Before beginning a treatment, it is wise to consider your medications potential side effects. Talk to your physician if you are experiencing breast pain or any other side effects from your prescriptions so you can decide an alternative.
Drastic hormonal fluctuations can cause sudden breast pain if no other factor seems to be at fault. This is because variations in the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone can result in a painful inflammation of the breast tissue. Nevertheless, cyclic breast pain - that is characteristic of the fluctuations of the menstrual cycle - tend to decrease with menopause.
While making simple lifestyle changes - like engaging in regular exercise and ensuring your bras are properly fitted - can be highly effective when managing breast pain, addressing the underlying cause of hormonal imbalance will bring ultimate relief.
Natural and effective breast pain treatments include lifestyle adjustments alongside the use of alternative medicine implemented for centuries for mastalgia relief. By taking this holistic approach, women will not only find mastalgia relief, but reprieve from other menopause symptoms that can also be haunting their days.
- Breast Cancer Now. (2018). Breast Pain. Retrieved November 14, 2019, from https://breastcancernow.org/information-support/have-i-got-breast-cancer/benign-breast-conditions/breast-pain
- Cleveland Clinic. (2018). What's Causing Your Breast Pain or Tenderness? 5 Soothing Tips | Breast Pain (Mastalgia). Retrieved November 14, 2019, from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/whats-causing-your-breast-pain-or-tenderness-5-soothing-tips/ | https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15469-breast-pain-mastalgia
- Mayo Clinic. (2019). Breast pain: Symptoms & causes. Retrieved November 14, 2019, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/breast-pain/symptoms-causes/syc-20350423
- NHS. (2017). How a well-fitted sports bra can reduce breast pain | Breast pain. Retrieved November 14, 2019, from https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/right-sports-bra-can-reduce-breast-pain/ | https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/breast-pain/
- Tufts Medical Center Community Care. (n.d.). No more breast stress: What you need to know about breast pain. Retrieved November 14, 2019, from https://hhma.org/blog/breast-pain/
- Arslan, M. et al. (2016). Retrospective Analysis of Women with Only Mastalgia. The Journal of Breast Health, 12(4), 151-154. doi: 10.5152/tjbh.2016.2944
- Brown, N. et al. (2013). The experience of breast pain (mastalgia) in female runners of the 2012 London Marathon and its effect on exercise behaviour. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 48(4), 320-325. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2013-092175
- Yilmaz, E.M. et al. (2015). Relation between Mastalgia and Anxiety in a Region with High Frequency of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. The Journal of Breast Health, 11(2), 72-75. doi: 10.5152/tjbh.2015.2363