So, breasts: They’re generally great, regardless of size or shape. But damn, they hurt sometimes.
Breast pain can happen for a variety of reasons – check your bra size, girls! – But there is one scary thing about breast pain that has nothing to do with breast cancer.
“Most breast cancers don’t cause pain,” says Diane Young, MD, of the Cleveland Clinic Willoughby Hills Family Health Center. “Breast pain is not a symptom of breast cancer,” she reiterated. So, lol.
But what causes sore breasts…is there a way to free yourself from the prison of sore breasts? Of course there is. Here’s what you need to know and do for your poor, aching chest.
- You are on your period.
The most common cause of breast pain is the hormonal changes that come with menstruation, especially a drop in estrogen after ovulation, says Diane Young, M.D., of the Cleveland Clinic Willoughby Hills Family Health Center.
“During superovulation, hormone levels — estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone — increase, so PMS begins when hormone levels drop, which can cause women to experience breast pain,” she says.
The pain is called cycle pain because it’s associated with your menstrual cycle — accompanied by swelling and tenderness the day before your period and the first day of your period, says Tarane Shirazian, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology. , Reproductive Sciences at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York.
The good news: It goes away when your period ends. Combined birth control pills can help because they prevent ovulation and keep estrogen levels stable, Shirazian said. If you want to skip OTC pain relievers, she says, primrose oil can help ease the pain.
- You’ve stepped up your workout or pulled something.
So let’s say you do some serious push-ups and then the next day your breasts hurt. This type of pain isn’t actually breast pain, Young says, but rather from the pectoral muscles just below the breasts.
Fortunately, this soreness is temporary (and depends on how much and how hard you work) and can be treated with pain relievers and applying heat or ice to the muscle, says Young.
- Your bra isn’t holding your weight.
When was the last time you wore a bra? If you have breast pain (and haven’t changed your bra size in years), an ill-fitting bra may be to blame.
If yours is too tight or too small, it can push your breasts (All Day. Long.) and cause breast pain, says Shirazian.
The same goes for sports bras, especially if your breasts are on the larger side. If they are not supported during high-impact exercise, the extra movement of the breast tissue can pull on itself and its ligaments, causing serious pain.
Easy Fix: Try on all kinds of bras (yes, even sports bras) and make sure they fit right in the dressing room. This means no spills, no digs, just minimal bounce when jumping up and down in the dressing room. (Seriously, do it.)
- Your breasts are on the “bulky” side.
Sometimes the breasts feel “lumpy” because of fibrocystic breast tissue, Young said. Basically, this means that the breasts have more bumps and bumps. But Young points out that it’s very common and nothing to worry about.
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), those “lumps” you feel are actually benign cysts, or fluid-filled sacs inside the breast. Again, these do not increase the risk of breast cancer, but hormonal changes can cause enlargement, pain, and tenderness during menstruation.
- Your breasts are sensitive to coffee (yes, really).
If you have fibrocystic breast tissue, you may be more sensitive to stimulants like coffee, Young says.
“Our breasts have small ducts, and sometimes things like caffeine and chocolate can cause these ducts to swell,” she says. This swelling causes pain, he added. If your breasts feel lumpy and coffee seems out of style, ask your GP if you’d consider a mastectomy.
The more you learn!