Missing a period and having tender breasts are, along with morning sickness, the classic signs of pregnancy. Yet, it is possible for women to suffer from these symptoms while not being pregnant, and there is a variety of potential causes that could be behind these issues.
What Causes Breast Tenderness?
Breast tenderness can appear in a cyclical (a dull ache at the same time of each month) or non-cyclical (a sharper, acute pain that doesn't reoccur) pattern. Cyclical breast tenderness is mostly a result of hormonal changes, and as such, is more likely to be linked to missed periods.
Usually, during the menstrual cycle, hormone shifts cause discomfort and pain in breast tissue. Breast pain can range from mild to severe, and it can be associated with some disorders like mastitis or more serious disorders like ectopic pregnancy or a breast abscess.
What Causes Missed Periods?
The causes of missed periods can be divided into lifestyle and medical factors.
Excessive weight loss or gain, eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia, or intense exercise can often disrupt a woman's monthly cycle and lead to missed periods. Also, high stress levels can interfere with progesterone production, and thus inhibit ovulation.
Certain medications can also make missed periods more likely to occur. Taking oral contraception will stop proper periods and ovulation altogether, replacing them by monthly bleeding that resembles a period. However, this bleeding may not appear during the first few months while the body is adjusting to external hormones. Other forms of hormonal contraception, especially implants or injections, are often linked to missing periods. Most types of hormonal contraception list breast tenderness as a common side effect.
In addition, common conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can also be responsible for missed periods and general hormonal imbalance and commonly present breast tenderness as well. It is important to talk to your doctor about irregular menstrual cycles to eliminate any questions or concerns about it.
How to Manage These Symptoms
Missed periods and tender breasts are most often caused by hormonal imbalances, and it is useful to talk to a doctor to rule out a serious condition and find long-term solutions. Furthermore, following some simple lifestyle tips can help.
Phytoestrogenic foods. Dietary estrogen can help with hormonal imbalance and prevent these symptoms. The main food sources of phytoestrogen are soybean and flaxseed, but lentils, chickpeas, and apples all contain them as well.
Monitor your nutrient intake. Ensure you are getting the recommended daily amounts of calcium, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids, as these are important for helping with hormone regulation. Sardines, leafy greens, and low-fat dairy can all be helpful for this.
Reduce stress. Excessive stress can easily disrupt progesterone production, leading to both missed periods and breast tenderness. Relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation are very useful.
Warm compresses. Using warm (never hot) pads or compresses on top of each breast at night can help relieve tenderness. This method can be used as well against pelvic pain, which often comes alongside missed periods.
When missed periods and tender breasts are caused by menopause, treatment is generally not required unless it is seriously disrupting daily life: it is an expected symptom of this natural, unavoidable stage of life and should not cause undue pain or stress. It is better to first treat these unpleasant symptoms by making healthy lifestyle changes or with alternative, natural remedies. Click on the following link to learn more about treatments for breast pain.
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