Breast pain is common, affecting around 70% of women at some point during their lives. The condition refers to overall discomfort, tenderness, and soreness felt in one or both breasts. Breast pain is directly linked to hormonal changes, so it is most commonly felt in premenopausal women. Premenopause refers to the stage of reproductive life when a girl is considered fully fertile, that is, from the time when she has her first period, until she experiences her first menopause symptoms.
The main cause of breast pain is the fluctuation of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone hormones as these changes can instigate breast tissue inflammation, which makes pain flare. Premenopausal women are particularly vulnerable to breast pain because their monthly periods are accompanied by hormonal changes.Other potential causes of breast pain include lifestyle factors and medical conditions.
Lifestyle factors like poor diet, insufficient exercise, and high stress can all trigger breast pain. It is important to try and address these habits in order to prevent breast pain.
Additional breast pain triggers that can influence the symptom include:
- Breast size. Women with larger breasts are more susceptible to breast pain than those with smaller breasts.
Caffeine. This compound causes blood vessels in the breasts to dilate, which may make them more vulnerable to pain.
Poorly fitted bras. Bras that do not fit well are the main culprit of breast pain among women who exercise. In order to prevent breast pain, it is vital that women get properly fitted and measured before undertaking any kind of physical activity.
Breast pain experienced during premenopause is most commonly benign and not a cause for concern, but it can be uncomfortable and distracting when misunderstood. Fortunately, there are several ways of managing breast pain.
Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet is essential to feeling your best. Including plenty of protein, fruits, vegetables, and good fats into every meal is key to keeping a healthy diet. It is recommended that women eat three small, healthy meals a day, and small, nutritious snacks every three to four hours to ensure optimum performance and energy. Try to avoid salty foods, saturated fats, and excessive amounts of alcohol in order to prevent breast pain.
Exercising regularly not only keeps you fit and healthy, but studies have shown that it can also prevent and alleviate breast pain. Getting around 30 minutes of aerobic exercise a day, at least five times a week is generally recommended. Biking, walking, swimming, and yoga are all excellent low-impact workouts that can help reduce stress, improve mood, and boost energy levels. Make sure to wear a properly fitted sports bra when exercising to prevent breast pain.
Natural remedies are a simple and safe alternative to prescription medication when dealing with breast pain. Several herbs that have been used traditionally to help with breast pain include evening primrose oil, ginger, and soy. Soy in particular helps naturally stabilise estrogen levels, which reduces pain in some cases. Additionally home remedies such as cold compresses, warm baths, and wearing loose cotton clothing should be considered.
Recurrent breast pain is common among premenopausal women because of the hormonal changes they experience each month. Natural treatments for breast pain include: maintaining a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise.
- National Health Service UK. (2014). Cyclical breast pain. Retrieved August 21, 2014, from http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/breastpaincyclical/pages/introduction.aspx
- National Institutes of Health. (2014). Premenstrual breast changes. Retrieved August 21, 2014, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003153.htm
- University of Maryland Medical Center. (2012). Breast pain. Retrieved August 21, 2014, from http://umm.edu/health/medical/ency/articles/breast-pain