Why Are My Boobs Sore After My Period?

Many women experience breast pain in the days leading up to their period. It is a sign of normal hormonal changes and should go away once your period starts.

You can take over-the-counter pain relievers, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to help ease the discomfort. Some women also find that a cold compress or wearing a supportive bra helps.

Hormonal Changes

Cyclical breast pain, or mastalgia, is normal and occurs in the days leading up to your period. It’s caused by monthly fluctuations in the hormones progesterone and estrogen, which can cause milk ducts to swell and become tender. It tends to peak right before ovulation, and the symptoms usually go away once your period begins.

However, some women experience cyclical breast pain even after their period ends. This isn’t as common as the PMS-like boob pain, but it can still be bothersome.

The good news is that this type of breast/chest pain can often be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen, says Bleicher. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories may work best, as they can inhibit the production of prostaglandins that contribute to pain and swelling. Other medications, including some HRT, contraceptives, and diuretics (like those used to treat high blood pressure), can also help reduce cyclical pain by decreasing fluid retention.

Fibrocystic Changes

If you have fibrocystic breast changes, your breast tissue feels lumpy and may be tender to the touch. These are not cancerous and tend to occur in premenopausal women as a result of hormone fluctuations. These changes usually develop as the body gets ready each month for a possible pregnancy by releasing hormones that stimulate breast tissue to make milk. They can be painful or achy, and can happen on both sides of the breasts up to and under the armpit.

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Your doctor can usually diagnose fibrocystic breast changes with a physical exam. Your doctor might also do an ultrasound scan and a mammogram to help confirm the diagnosis. Sometimes the doctor might do a needle test, which involves inserting a small needle into each breast to take a sample of the tissue to be examined under a microscope.

Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen can be used to ease discomfort. You can also try wearing a well-fitting bra and cutting out caffeine. If these don’t work, you can ask your doctor about herbal or vitamin supplements.

Fungal Infection

Fungi are microscopic critters that can cause infections in the skin (mycosis), nails and mucus membranes. They are found in dirt, plants and household surfaces and typically don’t cause problems in healthy people, but can overgrow when the immune system is compromised. There are many types of fungi, including yeasts and molds. Most of them are opportunistic and take advantage of situations that can weaken the immune system, such as excessive sweating. Examples of fungal infections include athlete’s foot, jock itch, ringworm and yeast infections.

Women can get a fungal infection on the breasts called thrush, which is caused by the candida yeast species. Symptoms of this condition are red, swollen nipples with a rash that can be itchy and burning. It is most commonly seen in breastfeeding moms or women who have clogged milk ducts. It’s also common in postmenopausal women who are experiencing hormonal changes that reduce the acidity of their vagina, making it easier for candida to thrive. Other symptoms include a white coating in the mouth and throat, or vaginal discharge with itching.

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Medications

Breast pain can also occur for no obvious reason, especially if you’ve recently had surgery or have been injured. These kinds of injuries can strain your pectoralis major muscle, which is located in your chest and arms. This can lead to breast pain that lingers, and can even extend into your periods.

If your boobs are sore and tender during the second half of your menstrual cycle, you’re experiencing cyclical breast pain (or mastalgia). This type of pain is linked to the rise and fall in estrogen and progesterone throughout your cycle. These hormones increase the size of milk ducts and milk glands and cause the breasts to retain water. This can make your boobs feel dense, bumpy, and full. Cyclical breast pain usually starts in the days before your period, and gets worse right before your period begins.

Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help reduce the pain associated with cyclical breast pain. You should also try to cut back on salt and caffeine, as both can increase the pain. Wearing a supportive bra can help, too.

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Breast Cysts

Breast cysts are fluid-filled lumps within your breast tissue that aren’t cancerous. They enlarge and feel more tender right before your period starts and get smaller or disappear after your period ends. These are the most common non-cancerous (benign) breast lumps in women between 35 and 50, but can occur at any age.

Cyclical breast pain is directly related to hormones in the body and a woman’s menstrual cycle. This type of pain lasts a few days to a week each month, usually in the two or three days before your period begins.

If you have cyclical breast pain, don’t be alarmed by the soreness, but it is important to talk with your doctor about it. They can help you find ways to relieve the pain such as avoiding caffeine, taking an over-the-counter pain reliever like acetaminophen or ibuprofen and exercising regularly. They may also suggest a diet rich in whole foods to decrease estrogen levels and reduce pain. Other medical conditions that can cause nipple pain include Costochondritis (pain in the rib area) and acidity or gall bladder issues.

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