All about each symptom of menopause

Breast Tenderness and Hypothyroidism

Breast tenderness is a common symptom associated with menopause, and many women are familiar with the pain of this problem, especially if they have been through pregnancy and breastfeeding. Hypothyroidism is a much lesser-known symptom or side effect of menopause, and therefore, many women are unaware of the problem.

There are many causes for each individual condition, but they both have an impact on the levels of hormones in the body. Women should not be worried because the uncomfortable and often worrying breast tenderness symptoms and hypothyroid problems can be treated once diagnosed.

Breast tenderness and hypothyroidism can be caused by hormonal imbalance

What is Breast Tenderness?

Mastalgia is the medical name for breast tenderness, a general symptom that can include any soreness or discomfort affecting either one or both breasts. Most women experience some form of breast tenderness during their lifetime, and it can be a common occurrence during menstrual periods. In the run-up to menopause, as well as during and after this stage, women are very likely to suffer from breast tenderness.

There are two types of breast tenderness: cyclical mastalgia and non-cyclical. The first one is related to a woman's monthly cycle and the other is generally caused by a variety of other factors, like a cyst. Women going through menopause can experience either type of breast tenderness. It is not a serious health condition and generally resolves itself without treatment. Symptoms can include:

  • Swelling of the breasts
  • Soreness to the touch
  • Bruising
  • Heaviness
  • Increased breast size

What Is Hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the body lacks sufficient levels of thyroid hormone. Since the main purpose of the thyroid hormones is to direct the body's metabolism, people with this condition see their metabolic rate drop sharply and experience a cluster of symptoms that can commonly include breast tenderness. The malfunction of the thyroid gland can be caused by a variety of factors, only one of which is menopause; the others include autoimmune disorders.Further symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

  • Irregular periods
  • Decreased libido
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Weight gain

What Is the Link between Breast Tenderness and Hypothyroidism?

The main link between breast tenderness and hypothyroidism is a hormonal imbalance. However, while breast tenderness is caused by hormonal imbalance, an underactive thyroid itself causes a hormonal imbalance in the body. This means that breast tenderness and other symptoms associated with menopause are also likely to occur in the case of hypothyroidism.

Menopause entails a permanent decrease in the levels of sex hormones, resulting in a number of side effects, including increased breast size, which makes them more susceptible to pain. This is also the case during a woman's monthly cycle, only estrogen levels drop while progesterone levels increase, resulting in mood swings and other symptoms such as breast tenderness.

Managing Breast Tenderness and Hypothyroidism

If breast tenderness and hypothyroidism are both caused by a hormonal imbalance, most women can alleviate symptoms by taking measures to control hormone levels. This can be achieved in a variety of ways, including certain lifestyle changes, such as a healthier diet and regular exercise, or take herbal supplements. Best results are experienced when combining the two. If medication is required, there are several appropriate hormonal treatments - such as hormone replacement therapy (HRT), a common solution prescribed for menopausal women - which can help with more severe cases.

For breast tenderness that is related to monthly cycles and is only mild, medication is normally not required, although over-the-counter painkillers and anti-inflammatories can be helpful in managing discomfort. Hypothyroidism that is not related to menopause is still treated with hormones but normally with thyroid hormone medication. If a woman thinks she is suffering from hypothyroidism, she should make an appointment to see a doctor in order to be professionally diagnosed and treated.

Click on this link to read more about the most common approaches for treating breast tenderness

Breasts Cysts: Should I Be Worried?

Check out this article for all you need to know about these little problems and why you shouldn't be too worried about finding them.

Top 6 Herbs for Breast Pain during Menopause

Many women experience breast pain during menopause. Click here to learn about herbal remedies that some women use to relieve breast pain.

How to Overcome Breast Pain

Breast pain affects nearly two-thirds of women, and can range from mild to severe. Fortunately, there are several natural remedies for breast pain.

  • Hutchinson, Susan M.D. "The Stages of a Woman's Life: Menstruation, Pregnancy, Nursing, Perimenopause, Menopause". November 2007.
  • Love, Susan M.D. Menopause and Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003.
  • BMJ Group. "Menopause: What is it?" Patient Leaflet. 2007.