Why Do My Boobs Hurt When Im on My Period?

Breast pain, tenderness, and swelling are common PMS symptoms that occur a few days before you start your period. This pain usually stops when your bleeding starts.

The pain and tenderness comes from the ups and downs of hormone levels. Fortunately, there are many home remedies and treatment options to reduce pain.

Hormonal Changes

For the most part, breast pain is a normal part of your monthly menstrual cycle. This is because your body’s hormones, like estrogen and progesterone, rise and fall throughout the month. When those levels get a bit too high in the second half of your menstrual cycle, it can cause enlarged and sore breasts. It’s important to note that these changes may only affect one of your breasts, since each endocrine system works differently.

As a result of these fluctuations, your boobs can feel tender before your period and it usually ends within a few days once your flow begins. It can also be exacerbated by stress, which tends to throw off your hormone levels.

The medical term for this is called cyclical mastalgia. “It occurs when your ovaries produce the female hormones estrogen and progesterone,” women’s health expert Jennifer Wider tells SELF. “Estrogen enables the milk ducts to enlarge, and progesterone causes them to swell. When these levels rise before your period, it can cause painful and lumpy boobs.”

It’s also worth noting that breast/chest pain that isn’t a part of your monthly cycle could be a sign of something more serious, such as an infection or cancer in the breasts or rib cage. Taking over-the-counter pain relievers (like ibuprofen) or wearing a supportive bra can help ease the aches and keep your mind off of them.

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Infections

If your boobs are hurting constantly and aren’t easing up as you get closer to your period, it’s a good idea to call your doctor. They can evaluate your symptoms and determine whether they’re due to a hormone change or something more serious, like an infection.

Infections that cause breast pain include mastitis, which is when milk ducts become inflamed and painful. This can be caused by infections, such as the flu or yeast infections, or it can also occur if you’re taking certain medications, like antibiotics. If you’re suffering from mastitis, your doctor will likely prescribe antibiotics to clear up the infection.

Another common cause of nipple pain is a condition called fibrocystic breast tissue, which is when your breasts have lumpy, rope-like tissue. Fibrocystic breast changes often happen just before your period and can be uncomfortable.

Home remedies for nipple pain are usually not necessary, but over-the-counter pain relievers, like acetaminophen and ibuprofen, can help. Additionally, sleeping in a different position and wearing a more supportive bra can help reduce pain. Dr. Minkin says she also recommends a cocktail of vitamins to her patients: 100-200 milligrams of vitamin B6, 200 units of vitamin E, and two capsules of evening primrose oil. She says the combination doesn’t cure her patients 100% of the time, but it does help a lot.

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Nutritional Issues

It’s totally normal to experience breast tenderness before your period, but that doesn’t mean you’ll have to spend your days lying in bed groaning with an ice pack strapped to your chest. Fortunately, there are some easy at-home remedies you can try that should help ease the pain.

The first thing you can try is taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain reliever (like ibuprofen) to reduce any inflammation that could be causing your boob pain, Dr. Loeb-Zeitlin says. She also suggests reducing your caffeine intake, as this can stimulate your breast cells and make them feel sore.

Cutting out salt and avoiding foods high in fat and sugar can also help reduce your breast pain. You should also wear a comfortable bra that offers support, and stay away from underwire options, Dr. Shirazian adds.

If your boob pain isn’t of a cyclical nature and is persistent, it may be an indication that you have a different issue, such as a cyst, illness or medication that’s causing the problem. In that case, you should talk to your doctor and get it checked out. They’ll examine your boobs for any signs of injury or infection and recommend treatments accordingly. In some cases, your doctor may order an ultrasound or mammogram to check out the cause of your breast pain. If they can’t find anything, they may refer you to a specialist who can help.

Surgery

If your boobs hurt just before your period, it’s usually due to hormone changes. A surge of oestrogen and progesterone can enlarge the milk glands in your breasts and cause pain. Similarly, if you have breast cysts, the fluid-filled sacs that can form in the nipples, they might swell before your period and cause breast pain.

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Cyclical breast pain tends to grow and decrease with the menstrual cycle, while non-cyclical pain often doesn’t follow a specific pattern or affect both breasts. Non-cyclical pain is a more serious sign of a health issue, such as fibrocystic breast disease, mastitis, or cancer.

You can help to reduce your period pain by avoiding high-impact exercise and wearing loose, comfortable clothing, Dr. Loeb-Zeitlin says. You can also try taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen or naproxen to ease inflammation.

If you notice any lumps, be sure to tell your doctor. They can examine the area for a cyst or other health issues and talk to you about treatment options. Some birth control options can also calm premenstrual breast pain, so ask your doctor if hormonal birth control could be a good option for you. Other things that can trigger painful boobs are clogged milk ducts, mastitis (an infection that can occur during breastfeeding), having larger or heavier breasts, and previous surgeries.

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