Breast pain and irregular periods are very common among women reaching menopause. In fact, 90% of women experience irregular menstrual cycles 2 - 10 years before their last period. With irregular periods and erratic hormones can come unexpected breast pain.
While it's normal to feel a little tender during premenstrual syndrome (PMS), erratic menstrual cycles may cause the pain to last for longer and be more severe. Whether you have shooting pains or lingering aches, there are always ways to manage these uncomfortable symptoms of menopause.
High stress levels can directly alter your periods, whether you're going through menopause or not. During times of stress, your body goes into high alert, which can stop your period or make it come earlier or later than normal. Emotional agitation and menstrual discomfort are often accompanied by breast pain.
Coping with anxiety and reducing stress can help regulate your period. Make it a point each day to turn on calming music, close your eyes, and meditate for 20 minutes. With every inhale, take in a positive intention or uplifting mental visualization, and with every exhale, release your concerns.
Another way to release stress is through yoga. This ancient practice uses a series of postures to stretch the body and relax the mind. Practicing yoga triggers the release of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a calming neurotransmitter than can help reduce anxiety.
There is a number of general dietary changes that you can make to help alleviate breast pain and regulate periods. Each woman is different, so what triggers breast pain in one may not in another. However, some common triggers include caffeine and alcohol. Studies have also shown that consuming a low-fat diet can also help reduce breast pain. Try adding more complex carbohydrates to your diet.
Breast tenderness may be accompanied by swelling or pain to the touch. As such, tight or restrictive clothing can aggravate it. Make sure that your bra is properly fitted by a professional and that you are wearing the right size. Also, remember to wear a sports bra during exercise for additional support. Some women have an extra bra with a slightly larger cup size in case their breasts swell and their regular bra feels too tight.
When in pain, try applying cool or hot compresses to your chest. A heating pad or a thermos can help relieve swelling and pain.
You can also try keeping a journal of when you experience breast pain to see if there is a pattern to when it occurs, such as at one particular stage of your cycle or after you consume a certain type of food.
Severe breast pain and irregular periods often come hand-in-hand. These are very common among menopausal women, but can be unpleasant to deal with. Once you understand why your body is going through such irregularities, it's easier to manage the symptoms. If you are ever concerned about your irregular periods or breast pain, consult a doctor.
For more information, click on the link below.
- Li, A.W. & Goldsmith, C.W. (n.d.). The Effects of Yoga on Anxiety and Stress. Alternative Medicine Review, 17(1), 21-35. Retrieved from http://www.altmedrev.com/publications/17/1/21.pdf
- Marchand, W.R. (2012). Mindfulness-based stress reduction, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, and Zen meditation for depression, anxiety, pain, and psychological distress. Journal of psychiatric practice, 18(4), 233-252. doi: 10.1097/01.pra.0000416014.53215.86
- National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (2013). What are the common treatments for menstrual irregularities? Retrieved May 28, 2014, from http://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/menstruation/conditioninfo/Pages/treatments.aspx
- National Institutes of Health. (2012). Breast Pain: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Retrieved May 28, 2014, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003152.htm
- Office on Women's Health. (2012). Menstruation and menstrual cycle fact sheet. Retrieved May 28, 2014, from https://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/ our-publications/fact-sheet/menstruation.html