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 missed periods and tender breasts.
Missed Periods and Tender Breast: Common Causes
Several factors can cause missed periods and breast tenderness at any time, but the most likely cause is hormonal imbalance. A woman's menstrual cycle is linked to hormones, particularly estrogen and progesterone. When hormone levels drop, periods often become less frequent or missed altogether.
Breast tenderness is often called mastalgia. There are two types of mastalgia: cyclical and non-cyclical. Cyclical mastalgia, the more common type, can affect women at any age and is linked to hormonal imbalance. Breast tenderness can range from mild to severe, and in some cases, it may be associated with some disorders.
Less commonly, the causes of missed periods may include:
- Eating disorders. Since they can cause excessive weight loss or gain, eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia may affect the menstrual cycle.
- Excessive exercise. Intense exercise can often disrupt a woman's monthly cycle and lead to missed periods.
- Stress. High stress levels can interfere with progesterone production and have an impact on the menstrual cycle.
There are some triggers and health conditions that can cause tender breasts, including:
- Hormonal contraception. Implants, patches, and injections in particular are often linked to breast tenderness.
- Fibrocystic breasts. Changes in breast tissue that often occur during a woman's reproductive years are commonly associated with breast tenderness.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). This condition can be responsible for missed periods and breast tenderness as well.
Managing Missed Periods and Breast Tenderness
Missed periods and tender breasts are most often caused by hormonal imbalance. Following some simple lifestyle tips can help with these symptoms and balance hormone levels.
- 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 and chickpeas 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, tai chi, or 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 against pelvic pain as well, which often comes alongside missed periods.
There is a variety of potential causes that could be behind missed periods and tender breasts, though an imbalance in hormone levels is the most common reason for both of these symptoms while not pregnant. However, the tips above might not be enough for addressing this root cause. Click on the following links to learn more about breast tenderness and irregular period treatments that balance hormone levels.