Breast pain, medically known as mastalgia, is defined by the general feeling of discomfort, tenderness, or pain in one or both breasts. The main cause of breast pain in women is the fluctuations of the female sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone. These hormonal changes cause inflammation of breast tissue, resulting in pain. Breast pain can range from mild to severe and can cause uncomfortable sensations like increased sensitivity, burning, swelling, or dull ache. Cyclical breast pain is the most common type of breast pain, and is recurrent during menopause, menstruation, and pregnancy, when hormones are in flux. Keep reading to learn how to ease breast pain.
Relieving Breast Pain
These treatments can help mitigate breast pain, and some are even part of a healthy lifestyle.
Herbal remedies are a natural and cost-effective alternative to pain medication when treating breast pain. Two common herbs for easing breast pain are chasteberry and soy. Chasteberry works by reducing the production of prolactin. Soy has been a popular herb among menopausal women because of its phytoestrogenic compounds.
Maintaining a balanced diet is essential to feeling and looking your best. Try including plenty of protein, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and good fats into your daily diet. It is generally recommended to eat three healthy meals a day in addition to small, nutritious snacks every three to four hours. Salmon, tuna, avocados, chicken, almonds, spinach, kale, and guavas are all nutrient-rich foods that have been known to help ease breast pain.
A study published by The British Journal of Sports Medicine showed that exercise impacts breast pain. Although it seems counterintuitive to exercise to ease breast pain, it has been shown to help in the long run. Scientists say ill-fitting sports bras are a main cause of breast pain during exercise, so make sure to get properly fitted before working out. Exercise has been shown to significantly increase energy, improve mood, as well as improve the efficiency of the heart, muscles, and joints.
Stress is a common trigger for breast pain. It is important to manage stress as much as possible for your overall health. Yoga, meditation, and regular exercise are all effective stress relievers. It may also be helpful to take time alone to read, listen to music, or take a soothing bath.
Applying cold compresses directly to the breasts, taking a warm bath with essential oils, and wearing loose cotton clothing are all helpful tips to help ease breast pain during menopause.
If all else fails, try taking some over the counter medicine to ease breast pain. Anti-inflammatory medications - like ibuprofen or aspirin - work to ease inflammatory pain. Try to take the medicine right when you start to feel pain, as it takes a while to kick in.
Breast pain affects around two-thirds of women at some point in their lives. The most common cause of breast pain is hormone fluctuations, but it can also be a result of excessive stress. There are several remedies for easing breast pain, such as exercising, eating healthy, herbal remedies, and reducing stress.
- Brown, N. (2014). The experience of breast pain (mastalgia) in female runners of the 2012 London Marathon and its effect on exercise behaviour. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 48(4), 320-325. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2013-092175
- National Health Service UK. (2012). Breast pain, cyclical. Retrieved December 18, 2014, from http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/breastpaincyclical/pages/introduction.aspx
- University of Maryland Medical Center. (2012). Breast pain. Retrieved December 18, 2014, from http://umm.edu/health/medical/ency/articles/breast-pain