Breast pain refers to the general discomfort, tenderness, and sharp pain in breasts. The primary cause of sharp pain in breasts is hormonal fluctuations. Fluxes of estrogen and progesterone cause inflammation of breast tissue, which results in pain. Tenderness to the touch, a sharp shooting sensation, and aching are all common symptoms of breast pain. There are two types of breast pain, cyclical and non-cyclical. Cyclical breast pain is directly linked to periodic hormonal fluctuations. It is important to differentiate between the common myths and facts about sharp pain in breasts.
MYTH: Breast Pain Means Breast Cancer
FACT: Breast Pain Is Rarely a Sign of Breast Cancer
Breast pain is incredibly common, and can occur for many different reasons. Furthermore, breast cancer rarely lists it as a symptom. In fact, only 2 - 7% of women with breast cancer experience breast pain.
MYTH: Only Women with Large Breasts Experience Breast Pain
FACT: Almost All Women Experience Breast Pain at Some Point in Their Lives
While women with larger breasts are more susceptible to breast pain, all women are likely to experience breast pain at some point in their lives, no matter their breast size. It is important to wear properly fitted bras during any kind of activity in order to aid in preventing breast pain.
MYTH: Exercise Worsens Sharp Pain in Breasts
FACT: Exercise Can Cause Breast Pain, But Has Been Shown to Help Relieve Pain and Other Symptoms in the Long Run
Unfortunately, exercise can cause breast pain in women. In a recent study published in The British Journal of Sports Medicine, scientists examined the relation of breast pain to exercise in active women. The results showed that exercise influences breast pain. Although it seems counter-intuitive to recommend continuing exercise, it has been shown to help in the long run. Exercise has been shown to increase energy levels by as much as 20%, improves mood, and reduces stress. Scientists say ill-fitting sports bras are a main cause of the problem, so make sure to get properly fitted before working out.
MYTH: Hormones Are the Sole Cause of Breast Pain during Menopause
FACT: There Are Several Lifestyle Factors That Can Contribute to Breast Pain
Lifestyle factors that can trigger sharp pain in breasts are high stress and poor diet. Stress is a common trigger for breast pain during menopause. It is important to try to manage stress as much as possible for your overall well-being. Yoga, meditation, and regular exercise are all excellent stress relievers. Poor diet can also induce breast pain. Foods that are high in sodium and saturated fat are triggers for breast pain, so it's best to avoid them. Try to include protein, fruits and vegetables, complex carbs, and good fats into your diet.
Breast pain is a bothersome menopause symptom that affects around two-thirds of women during their lives. The most common cause of breast pain is hormone fluctuations, but lifestyle factors can also play a part. It's important to keep in mind breast pain triggers, like poor diet and high stress, and to try to avoid them as much as possible. When it comes to breast health, it is crucial to get regular breast exams for early detection and peace of mind.
- Brown, N. et al. (2013). The experience of breast pain (mastalgia) in female runners of the 2012 London Marathon and its effect on exercise behavior. The British Journal of Sports Medicine, 48(4), 283. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2013-092175
- Mason, B.R., Page, K.A. & Fallon, K. (1999). An analysis of movement and discomfort of the female breast during exercise and the effects of breast support in three cases. Journal of science and medicine in sport, 2(2), 134-144. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10476977
- National Health Service UK. (2014). Breast pain. Retrieved August 18, 2014, from http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/breastpaincyclical/pages/introduction.aspx
- University of Maryland Medical Center. (2012). Breast pain. Retrieved August 18, 2014, from http://umm.edu/health/medical/ency/articles/breast-pain