Breast Pain FAQs
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When a woman has breast pain during menopause, it can be an uncomfortable and disconcerting symptom. Many women automatically fear a more serious underlying cause, such as breast cancer. However, breast cancer is a rare cause of breast pain in menopause. Much more likely, the cause of breast pain is hormonal fluctuations.
Nevertheless, many women have questions about breast pain that arises during menopause. Discovering the answers to such questions is the best place to begin when trying to manage this common menopause symptom.
Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions about breast pain in menopause.
Q: What Is Breast Pain?
A: Breast pain, known medically as mastalgia, mastodynia, and mammalgia is the general term used to mean discomfort, tenderness, or pain in one or both of the breasts.
Breast pain can be constant or intermittent. It may be generalized to the whole breast area or localized in one specific area.
Q: Is Breast Pain Normal during Menopause?
A: Breast pain is a common complaint among females, affecting as many as 70% of women at some point in their lives. Only a small percentage of these women, about 10%, will experience severe breast pain, which can have a significant impact on relationships, work, and daily life.
Breast pain is normal and common in perimenopause, or the years leading up to the cessation of menstruation
Q: Could Breast Pain Mean Breast Cancer?
A: Rarely. It is important to know that breast pain is seldom a signal of breast cancer. According to medical research, only 27% of women with breast cancer will experience breast pain as a symptom.
Q: What Are the Different Types of Breast Pain?
A: There are three main types of breast pain. Most cases of breast pain are classified as either cyclic or non-cyclic. However, in some cases, breast discomfort can be classified as extramammary, because the origin of the pain resides outside of the breast itself.
The most common type of breast pain in menopause is cyclic breast pain, which is hormonally related. This type often affects women in their 40s and 50s in the months or years before menopause. Non-cyclic breast pain and extra-mammary pain are unrelated to hormones. Non-cyclic breast pain is most common during postmenopause, or after the permanent cessation of menstrual periods.
Q: What Are the Symptoms of Breast Pain?
A: The symptoms of breast pain depend on how the pain is classified. The following chart shows the symptom of breast pain based on type.
Symptoms of Cyclical Breast Pain
Breast dullness, heaviness, or aching
Breast swelling or lumpiness
Sharp breast pain
Burning breast pain
Both breasts usually affected
Symptoms of Non-Cyclical Breast Pain
Usually experienced in one breast or area
Can be constant or intermittent
Extramammary pain, which originates outside the breast, often accompanies more general pain or discomfort in the armpit, chest, and neck area.
Q: When Should a Woman Speak With Her Doctor?
Breast pain is persistent
Pain gets worse with time
Pain interferes with daily life
Nipple discharge is present
Signs of infection i.e. fever, local redness
Localized pain in one area of the breast.
A: Any woman who is concerned about breast pain during menopause can benefit from speaking with her healthcare provider. However, in certain cases, it is more crucial that a woman seek medical attention. A woman should call her doctor about breast pain in the following instances:
Q: What Causes Breast Pain during Menopause?
A: Hormonal change is the most likely cause of cyclical breast pain and tenderness during menopause. During the menopausal transition, normal spikes and dips in the levels of estrogen and progesterone hormones can lead some women to experience breast pain. For some women, breast pain is caused by too little or too much estrogen, while others experience breast pain because of too little progesterone.
Q: What Else Can Cause Breast Pain?
A: While hormonal changes are the number one cause of breast pain in menopause, other factors can cause or contribute to breast pain. These are often non-cyclical causes of breast pain, which are less common in menopausal women.
Less Common Causes of Breast Pain:
Prior breast surgery
Oral contraceptive use
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
Cholesterol and heart drugs
Q: What Factors Make Breast Pain Worse?
Dietary Triggers for Breast Pain
• High salt intake
• Fatty foods
A: Lifestyle factors, such as diet and stress, can also cause or contribute to breast tenderness and pain during menopause. Studies show that cyclical breast pain, not uncommon in menopause, can be made worse by certain food and drink choices. Emotional stress and prolonged inactivity can also make breast pain worse during menopause.
Q: Does Breast Pain Stop After Menopause?
A: The cyclic breast pain that often develops in the years or months before menopause will often cease to be a problem once menopause has occurred. However, some women may experience breast pain after menopause. This type of breast pain is not usually attributed to hormonal imbalance and may have other causes. Women who experience breast pain after menopause should speak with a medical professional to rule out any rare, but serious, causes.
Q: How Can Breast Pain be Relieved?
A: Fortunately, a number of self-care measures can help to relieve breast pain during menopause. These include:
Avoiding dietary triggers
Breast support via padding or good bra
Visualization and relaxation methods
While these can help a woman reduce the severity of breast pain, they alone cannot reach the root problem of hormonal imbalance. Read on to learn more about treatment options that can address the hormonal imbalance of menopause.
Q: Is Breast Pain Treatment Available?
A: In addition to self-care methods, natural therapies are safe and effective methods of relieving breast pain by targeting the root cause of hormonal imbalance. Many medical experts recommend that a woman begin with the least invasive methods of hormonal balance via natural therapies, moving on to medical treatments only if necessary. A majority of women find that a combination of self-care and natural therapies are the best way to address breast pain in menopause.
What Are the Best Ways to Cope with Breast Pain?
Three approaches can be considered for treating breast pain: (1) lifestyle changes, (2) alternative remedies, and (3) medications and surgery. Most experts recommend that women begin with the least aggressive approach and move to the next level of treatment only if symptoms persist. Click on treatments for breast pain to discover the best route to relief.
Breast pain affects around 70% of women at some point, making it one of the most common menopausal symptoms. Breast pain is typically caused by fluctuations of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. A few natural methods to manage breast pain are maintaining a healthy diet and reducing stress.
Swollen breasts during menopause are primarily caused by hormone fluctuations. However, it is important to keep in mind that breast pain is most likely not a sign of breast cancer. Breast pain caused by swollen breasts can be managed by several home remedies, like applying an ice pack to the breasts and using herbal supplements.