It is common for women to experience breast pain and tenderness as a consequence of menopause. Because of the uncomfortable and sometimes alarming nature of breast pain, however, symptoms should be diagnosed early in order to rule out the threat of more serious causes. The following article contains practical information on the experience of breast pain.
Understanding Breast Pain as Menopause Symptom
Breast pain is defined as any pain, soreness, or discomfort experienced in the breast. These symptoms are commonly accompanied by swelling, tenderness, and an increase in breast size. During menstruation, breastfeeding, and pregnancy, it is not uncommon for women to experience a slight sensation of breast pain and for their breasts to feel lumpy. However, as women approach menopause, they can suffer from severe breast pain and tenderness. Unfortunately, in some cases, these sensations will continue after menopause.
What Causes Breast Pain?
Breast pain can be triggered by a variety of factors. In the majority of cases, though, the principal cause is the imbalance of estrogen levels encountered during menopause.
Altering degrees of estrogen and progesterone normally account for hormonal imbalance during the menstrual cycle. These fluctuations can affect the body in different ways. When estrogen levels are low and progesterone levels are high (a common combination during menstruation), breasts can swell. During menopause, however, hormonal imbalances can create further disruptions and increase the breasts to a size even larger than previously experienced. Unfortunately, this increase can expose women to heightened degrees of breast pain for longer periods.
If you experience additional symptoms, such as blood or clear discharge from the nipple, it's vital you contact your doctor.
How Should I Handle Breast Pain as a Menopause Symptom?
Because hormonal imbalance is the principal cause for breast pain, primary treatments should revolve around returning hormone levels to normal. This can be achieved by maintaining a healthy diet and exercise regime. Further aid can also be found in the form of herbal medicines, such as chasteberry.
Tips for Dealing with Breast Pain
- Increasing vitamin E and B intake can ease the sensation of breast pain.
- Taking inflammation-reducing medication such as ibuprofen can alleviate the associated symptoms.
- Applying ice and heat to the breast might lessen swelling.
- A properly fitted bra can often reduce the experience of breast pain. It is also advisable to wear a sports bra during exercise.
Leading a healthy lifestyle consisting of healthy foods, exercise, and stress avoidance can seem difficult to maintain. Woman will find, however, that the benefits of these small alterations will be felt not just in their breasts, but across their whole body and general well-being.
Read on to discover more about treatments for breast pain.
- Hutchinson, Susan M.D. "The Stages of a Woman's Life: Menstruation, Pregnancy, Nursing, Perimenopause, Menopause". November 2007.
- Love, Susan M.D. Menopause and Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003.
- BMJ Group. "Menopause: What is it?" Patient Leaflet. 2007.