Breast pain is an enormously common occurrence in the lives of many women; up to 70% will experience it at some point. It can be felt in a number of different ways, including but not limited to a sharp pain in one or both breasts. It's not surprising that many women will immediately wonder if their discomfort is a sign of cancer - you can relax for now, breast cancer is one of the much less common causes of sharp breast pain. However, to find out other possible causes for your ache, read below.
About Breast Pain
Breast pain is scientifically dubbed mastalgia, mastodynia, and mammalgia, and can be categorized in two ways: cyclical and non-cyclical. The former is most commonly felt in pre- and perimenopausal women and is caused most frequently by the changing levels of hormones that accompany the menstrual cycle and the phases of menopause. Non-cyclical pain usually occurs in postmenopausal women and occurs regardless of hormones. There is a third category called extramammary breast pain, which occurs outside of the breast but near enough that it may be mistaken for breast pain.
Breast pain is common, subjective, and unique to each woman's physiology: everyone will understand it differently. You may be experiencing a sharp breast pain, but others might feel a dull spread-out ache, tenderness, swelling, or tightness in the left breast, right breast, or both. Furthermore, each woman can have a different cause behind their ache, such as the ones listed below.
Causes of Breast Pain
The most common cause of any kind of breast pain is hormonal imbalance. When woman go through menstruation, pregnancy, or perimenopause, they are likely to suffer the side effects of the changing levels of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone - one of which is an achy chest.
However, there are still some less common causes of breast pain:
- Excessive breast size
- Prior breast surgery
- Oral contraceptives
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
- Cholesterol and heart drugs
- Alcohol intake
Should I Be Worried?
The short answer is no, you should not be worried and you can start to breathe easier. Most likely, the cause for your pain are the hormonal changes mentioned earlier. These changes, however frustrating, are completely normal and part of the process of being a woman. If this is the case, your sharp breast pain should resolve itself soon.
However, if your pain is extreme or prolonged, or even if you simply want to gain peace of mind, it's never a bad idea to speak with your doctor or get a clinical exam. Together, you can rule out any serious underlying issues causing your discomfort. Read complete information on relieving breast pain.
- Breast pain: Not just a premenopausal complaint. (2005). Retrieved on January 30, 2015, from http://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/updates/update1005c.shtml.