As women reach the end of their reproductive years they will begin to experience menopause symptoms such as breast tenderness. This uncomfortable menopause symptom has the potential to disrupt day to day life significantly and cause physical pain and discomfort when left untreated. It is vital to understand the warning signs of breast tenderness during menopause in order to prevent unnecessary discomfort. Read on to find out more about its causes.
When Will I Experience Breast Tenderness?
Breast tenderness is often experienced during the menstrual cycle when estrogen levels increase and cause an enlargement of the breast ducts. Breast tenderness may also be related to any of the other hormonal changes that occur during menopause.
What Causes Breast Tenderness during Periods?
Breast pain is most commonly associated with fibrocystic changes, and causes pain to be felt in both breasts, though one may sometimes be more painful than the other. With fibrocystic changes, the pain occurs about a week before your menstrual period and dissipates with the onset of your period.
Cyclical breast pain is typically more severe just before your period and eases during it. It is usually described as bilateral (occurring in both breasts), and can be felt in the upper outer areas of your breast. Women tend to describe this pain as dull, aching, and heavy. It can often radiate to your armpit or even down your arm. The intensity of pain varies widely.
Other Conditions that Cause Breast Tenderness
Breast tenderness may be linked to hormonal changes, certain disorders, and infections. These include:
Noncyclic breast pain
This is typically unilateral (only felt in one breast) and has no relationship with the menstrual cycle. It is described as a sharp, stabbing, burning pain that manifests right below the nipple area.
This can result from infection, cancer (though less common), or from very small benign tumors, which stimulate breast secretions. In cases of infection, the discharge is usually brown or greenish.
These include mastitis which can cause pain, redness, and warmth in the breast. Accompanying symptoms can include tenderness and swelling, body aches, fatigue, fever, and chills.
Handling Breast Tenderness Symptoms
If you are experiencing the following symptoms, you should contact a medical professional right away.
- Abnormal discharge from your nipples.
- Breast pain which is affecting your daily life.
- Prolonged and unexplained breast pain.
- Any changes in your breasts.
Because hormonal imbalance is the most common cause for breast tenderness during menopause, initial treatments should focus on returning hormone levels to normal. Hormonal balance can be achieved by keeping a healthy diet and exercise routine, combined with alternative remedies. Also, a hormonal balancing program could prove beneficial, particularly if the other approaches don't work.
To learn more about the various effective treatments for breast tenderness, click on the link below.
- 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.