Breast pain is a concern of nearly every woman at some point in her life. However, many women believe that breast pain or tenderness signals some serious disease, like breast cancer; however, breast pain is rarely a sign of cancer. More commonly, breast pain occurs during times when a woman's hormones are in a state of flux.
While hormonal change is the basic underlying cause of most cases of breast pain, researchers do not fully understand why some women are affected more than others or what affects the intensity and duration of breast pain.
Luckily, breast pain is usually a transient symptom of menopause that disappears after the transition has taken place .
While breast pain often subsides on its own without medical intervention, a woman with severe discomfort may wish to do something to relieve her symptoms. Read on to learn more about breast pain treatment options.
Three Approaches to Treating Breast Pain
In terms of breast pain treatment, three approaches are commonly considered: (1) Lifestyle Changes, (2) Alternative Medicine, and (3) Medications.
Women who wish to treat breast pain are advised to begin with the least-risky approach to treatment, lifestyle changes. If other methods are not effective, medical treatment may be necessary, but this option should only be used as a last resort.
1. Lifestyle Changes
The first level of treatment entails virtually no cost or risk, but it requires the most self-discipline. Even small adjustments in lifestyle and habits can significantly improve breast pain and tenderness. For example, a sedentary lifestyle or a diet high in fats can increase the severity of breast pain. Lifestyle adjustments are two-pronged: some strategies focus on dietary changes, while others focus on helpful ways to reduce breast pain naturally.
Lifestyle Adjustments to Reduce Breast Pain
- Go for a walk or exercise for a half-hour to an hour each day.
- Wear a supportive bra while exercising and even sleeping.
- Pad bra with lambswool or another comfortable material.
- Use ice packs or hot compresses to reduce breast pain.
- Utilize relaxation methods, such as visualization and breathing techniques.
- Massage sore breasts with olive or coconut oil.
- Eat a low-fat diet.
- Increase dietary fiber intake; such as beans, raspberries, artichokes, and avocado.
- Reduce salt intake to reduce fluid retention.
- Eat natural diuretics, such as parsley, celery, and asparagus.
- Take a good multivitamin supplement.
- Reduce caffeine and alcohol intake in addition to giving up tobacco.
- Consume foods rich in phytoestrogens, like soy, rye, flaxseed, and apples.
Lifestyle changes are a holistic and healthy approach to breast pain management, but certain habits can be hard to change. In addition, not all adjustments address hormonal imbalance, the main underlying cause of menopausal breast pain.
Making lifestyle changes is easier said than done. For example, some triggers can be hard to avoid: it may be possible to skip that extra glass of wine but virtually impossible to avoid work-related stress. It can also be difficult to suddenly and drastically change habits and preferences you may have had your whole life.
Breast Pain and Diet
Women in one study found that reducing fat to 20% of total calories resulted in remarkable reduction in breast pain.
Moreover , while these changes will help alleviate many symptoms, they do not address the cause of breast pain: hormonal imbalance. Fortunately, alternative medicine treatments are available to treat the root hormonal imbalance that causes breast pain. These natural treatments for breast pain have a much lower risk of side effects, compared to medical hormonal treatments. Read on to learn more about natural breast pain treatment.
2. Alternative Medicine
Alternative treatments are a low-risk, natural way to treat breast pain, and many options are available. Some women turn to methods like acupuncture and relaxation techniques, but these provide only temporary relief from the symptoms. Instead, herbal supplements are the ideal treatment, since they are simpler to follow, entail less time and money than other treatments, and they can balance hormone levels.
There are two types of herbal supplements available that influence hormone levels: phytoestrogenic and hormone-regulating supplements.
Phytoestrogenic supplements - e.g., black cohosh
These supplements are high in plant-based estrogen compounds called phytoestrogens. Since they function like estrogen in the female body, they can compensate for an estrogen deficiency, such as that during menopause. However, because using phytoestrogens can eventually make the system less capable of producing natural hormones - resulting in a decline in estrogen in the long run - these supplements should only be used for limited time periods.
Hormone-regulating supplements - e.g., Macafem
In contrast, these supplements work by nourishing the hormonal glands rather than using external hormone substitutes. This promotes natural hormone production at balanced levels, evening out not only estrogen, but also of progesterone and other hormones. These supplements are considered safe, given that they have virtually no side effects, and they do not deteriorate the endocrine system over time.
From "Nature and Health Magazine," Dr. Chacon says:
"Macafem nutrients help restore natural hormones in women. Unlike hormone drugs, which are basically resumed in taking synthetic hormones, Macafem acts totally different in your body. It nourishes and stimulates your own natural hormone production, by inducing the optimal functioning of the endocrine glands". Click on the following link to read and learn more about Macafem.
A combination of approaches often provides the most relief. However, when lifestyle adjustments plus herbal supplements are not enough to ease breast pain, medical treatment may be needed. Women should first assess the potential risks and benefits before advancing to the final approach.
Interventions at this stage typically involve the greatest risk and require the highest costs. In the U.S., the most common medication for menopausal breast pain and tenderness is hormone replacement therapy (HRT), a regimen of artificial hormones. It may be a fast and powerful way to reduce breast pain, but it is laden with the risk of adverse side effects, as revealed in the study below.
In 1991, the National Institutes of Health started the Women's Health Initiative, the biggest clinical study ever carried out in the U.S. Its aim was to learn more about the pros and cons of HRT. However, 11 years later, it was halted when it was found that taking synthetic hormones raises the risk of heart disease, stroke, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer. These results were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Additional medications - such as danazol, tamoxifen, and goserelin injections - can also relieve breast pain, but some provide only temporary relief, and they all pose the risk of adverse side effects, especially with extended use. Since some side effects may outweigh the positives, so it is crucial to speak with a doctor before starting any medication for breast pain.
The three approaches to treatment can be used separately or in any combination to best address the symptoms. Many women find that the most effective way to treat breast pain and tenderness during menopause is a blend of lifestyle adjustments and alternative treatment options.
A Safe Way of Treating Breast Pain
Making lifestyle changes:
- Exercising regularly
- Wearing comfortable and supportive bras
- Consuming estrogen-boosting foods
- High levels of salt and caffeine
- Alcohol and tobacco
- Cheese, mushrooms, and pickles
- Fatty and fried foods
And taking a natural supplement for hormonal imbalance:
- Supports a healthy hormonal system
- Safe, effective, and free of synthetic hormones
- Love, S. (2003). Menopause and Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press.
- National Health Service UK. (2014). Breast pain. Retrieved April 15, 2016, from http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/breastpaincyclical/Pages/Introduction.aspx
- Office on Women's Health. (2012). Menopause and menopause treatments fact sheet. Retrieved April 15, 2016, from http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/menopause-treatment.html