Breast pain, clinically known as mastalgia, is defined by feelings of discomfort, soreness, or aching in one or both breasts. The main cause of breast pain during menopause is the fluctuations of estrogen and progesterone. These hormonal instabilities often cause inflammation of breast tissue, which results in pain. Breast pain during menopause can vary from mild to severe discomfort, and can include symptoms like sensitivity, burning, swelling, or sharp pain. Cyclical breast pain is recurrent, and it's also the most common type of breast pain during menopause.
There are several ways to help stop menopausal breast pain.
A few simple things that help ease breast pain can be tried at home, such as applying cold compresses or heating pads directly to the breasts, giving yourself a breast massage in the shower, and wearing a well-fitted bra and loose cotton clothing.
Excessive stress can induce breast pain during menopause. Try to manage stress as much as possible to avoid breast pain and for your overall well-being. Yoga, meditation, and walking or running are all excellent stress relievers. Taking some alone time to read, listen to music, or take a soothing bath with essential oils like jasmine can also relieve stress.
Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet is essential for keeping your body and mind in top shape. Try to include plenty of protein, fruits, vegetables, complex carbs, and good fats into your diet. It is generally recommended to eat three healthy meals a day, in addition to small, nutritious snacks every three to four hours. Salmon, eggs, avocados, low-fat yogurt, almonds, spinach, kale, and guavas are all foods packed with nutrients that have been known to help lessen menopausal symptoms like breast pain.
A study published in The British Journal of Sports Medicine indicated that exercise can cause breast pain. However, scientists say ill-fitting sports bras are a primary cause of breast pain during exercise, so it is crucial to get properly fitted before working out. Though it may seem contradictory to continue exercising, it has been shown to be beneficial over time. Regular exercise can significantly increase energy, reduce stress, boost mood, and improve the efficiency of the heart, muscles, and joints.
Herbal remedies are used by many women to stop menopausal breast pain. Two popular herbs for treating breast pain are evening primrose oil and chasteberry. Evening primrose oil is has traditionally been used in easing menopausal breast pain. Chasteberry helps suppress the secretion of prolactin, the hormone that stimulates milk production. These lowered levels can help relieve some types of breast pain.
Over the counter medicine
Try taking over the counter medication like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. These are known as acute painkillers that stop the pain at the source. If these medications are still not helpful, it may be time to talk to a doctor about prescription medication options.
Breast pain affects most women at some point in their lives. Menopausal women, however, are more vulnerable to breast pain due to hormone fluctuations. It is important to try various methods to reduce breast pain in order to find out which method is right for you, because every woman's body is different. Reducing stress, exercising, and trying herbal remedies are all good places to start reducing breast pain.
- Brown, N. et al. (2013). The experience of breast pain (mastalgia) in female runners of the 2012 London Marathon and its effect on exercise behavior. The British Journal of Sports Medicine, 48(4), 283. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2013-092175
- Mason, B.R. , Page, K.A. & Fallon, K. (1999). An analysis of movement and discomfort of the female breast during exercise and the effects of breast support in three cases. Journal of science and medicine in sport, 2(2), 134-144. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10476977
- National Health Service UK. (2012). Cyclical breast pain. Retrieved August 19, 2014, from http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/breastpaincyclical/pages/introduction.aspx
- University of Maryland Medical Center. (2012). Breast pain. Retrieved August 19, 2014, from http://umm.edu/health/medical/ency/articles/breast-pain