Before and during menopause, it is common for women to experience pain or tenderness in their breasts. Although breasts can often become sore due to menstruation, menopausal breast pain may result from different causes.
What causes sore breasts during menopause?
A throbbing pain in the breasts may occur during menopause and sore breasts, also known as mastalgia, are also very common during menstruation.
This is because hormonal changes cause fluid to build up in the breasts, making them feel swollen and tender.
During perimenopause, the hormonal fluctuations are more dramatic. It is also common for breasts to get bigger or smaller or to change in shape during this period.
Breast pain around menopause may also feel different. Instead of a dull ache, you may experience burning or throbbing pain.
Breast pain should go away after a woman completely stops having periods and enters menopause. However, having hormone therapy (HRT) during menopause can increase the risk of continued breast pain.
Experiencing breast pain after menopause is less common, and you should not assume that it is due to hormonal changes but consult your doctor.
How to treat breast pain
Breast pain and discomfort should go away once menopause starts and oestrogen levels drop and can be related to excess oestrogen levels (oestrogen dominance). It can cause significant discomfort during perimenopause.
* One simple method that can help relieve breast discomfort is to make sure that you are not oestrogen dominant, and if your hormones are in balance. Supplementing with bioidentical progesterone could help to counteract this.
* Just like earlier in life, when we had period pains, a common method to relieve this is to take over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen but making lifestyle changes can also help to relieve the discomfort that sore breasts can cause.
* It may help to reduce salt consumption and drink more water, as mild dehydration causes fluid retention, which may worsen breast pain.
* Avoiding caffeine can also help to reduce tenderness. Some people believe that maintaining a diet low in saturated fat may relieve breast pain too, as this can reduce estrogen levels.
* Other remedies and lifestyle changes that may help sore breasts include:
– wearing supportive bras that fit comfortably
– exercising regularly
– applying a warm compress
– avoiding smoking
– taking a hot shower
When to see a doctor
Sore breasts can be uncomfortable, but should not usually be cause for concern.
Some women may worry about breast cancer though, particularly if cysts also develop around the same time. Most breast changes during perimenopause and menopause are normal.
However, if you have any of the following symptoms in addition to sore breasts, you should see a doctor:
** noticeable changes in the size and shape of breasts, particularly if they occur only on one side
** changes in skin texture
** unexplained discharge from the nipple
** a swelling or lump in the armpit or around the collarbone
** a lump or abnormally firm area on the breast
** persistent breast pain
Doctors recommend that women start to have mammograms between the ages of 40 and 45, or earlier if they have specific risk factors.
After that, they should have a mammogram every 1 to 2 years, regardless of whether or not they are experiencing any unusual symptoms.
It is always important to monitor any symptoms that you are having regularly and consult your doctor if you are concerned. At peri/menopause women are often oestrogen dominant, where their oestrogen levels are much higher than the progesterone levels, so they are out of balance so check whether you have many such symptoms.