Breast Swelling and Tenderness

By Hannah R. and Noelina R. | Updated: Jun 18, 2020


While breast swelling and tenderness are more often linked with pregnancy, breastfeeding, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS), they are also common symptoms of menopause. As such, the majority of women will experience breast pain and swelling at some point, making it of the utmost importance that they understand their exact implications.

Continue reading to find out more about breast swelling and tenderness, including their causes, management, and treatment options for ultimate, long-lasting relief.

Breast swelling and tenderness are common symptoms of menopause

Causes of Breast Tenderness and Swelling

There are two types of mastalgia, or breast pain: cyclic and non-cyclic. Cyclic breast pain is related to a woman's monthly cycle; whereas, non-cyclic breast pain is unrelated to the menstrual cycle and can affect women of any age.

During a time marked by erratic hormonal fluctuations and irregular periods, this symptom most likely has a cyclic nature as estrogen causes the milk glands to swell and fill with fluid, leading to swollen, painful breasts.

Less common causes of breast tenderness and swelling during menopause include:

  • Excessive caffeine and salt intake
  • Cysts
  • Stress
  • Mastitis
  • Pregnancy
  • Oral contraception or HRT
  • Cholesterol medication
  • And more

In very rare cases, swollen and painful breasts can be a sign of malignant tumors, but this is highly unlikely. Having this in mind, it is always recommended to visit your doctor and to get yearly mammograms after the age of 40.

Symptoms of Breast Swelling and Tenderness

Some of the most common symptoms of breast swelling and tenderness are:

  • Increase in size of the breasts
  • Feeling of heaviness
  • Breasts being sensitive or sore to the touch

For non-cyclic mastalgia, the symptoms should not be long-lived, and if they persist, medical advice should be sought.

Management of Breast Swelling and Tenderness

There are many lifestyle adjustments that can help make breast pain and swelling more manageable:

  • Lower caffeine and salt consumption. Excessive consumption of both can be linked to the worsening of swelling and tenderness in the breasts as they can cause water retention.
  • Take more vitamin E. Early studies have proven this vitamin's benefits for women suffering from cyclic breast pain and swelling.
  • Wear a well-fitting bra. This may be one of the simplest and most effective ways of reducing breast pain. Wear it while exercising and sleeping when they are extra sensitive.
  • Use warm compresses. Applying a warm compress at the base of each breast can help relieve the pain after a particularly excruciating day.

Treatments for Breast Swelling and Tenderness

Coping tips can diminish the pain; however, there are other approaches that can help achieve more lasting relief, including the use of natural and effective alternative treatments as well as medications. Learn more about the different options to treat breast pain and swelling here.

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