Breast Pain

The anatomy of the breastBreast pain is a common symptom that can develop during the menopausal transition, due to fluctuating levels of estrogen and progesterone. While postmenopausal women can experience breast pain, it is most common in premenopausal and perimenopausal women.

A common complaint among females, breast pain affects as many as 70% of women at some point in their lives. Only a small portion of these women, about 10%, will experience severe breast pain, which can have a significant impact on relationships, work, and daily life. Nevertheless, breast pain can prompt understandable questions and concerns at any intensity.

Becoming more educated about breast pain in menopause is one of the best steps towards understanding and managing this condition. Please read on to learn more about breast pain.

About Breast Pain

Breast pain – known medically as mastalgia, mastodynia, and mammalgia – is the general term used to mean discomfort, tenderness, and/or pain in one or both of the breasts.

Breast pain is categorized as either cyclical or non-cyclical. With the former, breast pain is the result of hormonal changes, making it the most common kind of breast pain in pre– and perimenopausal women. Non-cyclical breast pain, more common in postmenopausal women, is not related to hormonal changes. Extramammary breast pain, which originates outside the breast, is a third type of breast discomfort.

The symptoms of breast pain can vary depending on the type and the individual woman. Generally speaking, symptoms include tenderness, tightness, soreness, burning, swelling, dullness, and/or aching. Symptoms can be consistent or intermittent and may affect one or both breasts.

Click here to learn more about breast pain, or read on to learn more about the causes of breast pain.


Cyclical breast pain affects up to 70% of women at some point in their lives. It is the most common type of breast pain, and it is typically not a sign of serious health concern. Cyclical breast pain is almost always caused by hormonal fluctuations, such as those during menopause.


Causes of Breast Pain

The most common cause of breast discomfort during menopause is hormonal change. As with all times of hormonal fluctuation (i.e. menstruation and pregnancy), menopause can alter the levels of estrogen and progesterone in the body. As a result, women may develop breast pain.

While hormones are the most common cause of breast pain experienced in menopause, other factors can cause or contribute to breast pain. These rarer causes range from serious health conditions to dietary issues.

Less Common Causes of Breast Pain

• Breast cysts
• Breast trauma
• Prior breast surgery
• Breast size
• Stress
• Alcoholism
• Oral contraceptive use
• Antidepressants
• Mastitis
• Hormone replacement
  therapy (HRT)
• Cholesterol and heart
Oral contraceptive pills: a less common cause of breast pain

Click here to learn more about the causes of breast pain, or read on to learn more about when to speak with a doctor about breast pain.


Sudden breast pain affects nearly all women at some point in their lives. It is important to consider all possible causes of breast pain, and not jump to any drastic conclusions. Most of the causes of breast pain are benign and very common. These causes include stress, exercise, and hormone fluctuations.


Breast Pain Diagnosis

Doctor: prolonged or unexplained breast pain should be consulted with a doctorWhile breast discomfort during menopause is not usually cause for alarm, it is never a bad idea to speak with a doctor about this symptom. Though breast pain is rarely indicant of cancer, speaking with a doctor to rule out breast cancer can greatly help to allay these worries and help a woman determine the best way to manage breast tenderness.

Women who experience prolonged or unexplained breast pain, or additional accompanying symptoms should speak with a doctor to rule out rare, but more serious, causes of breast pain. At a doctor visit, a full physical and clinical exam will be performed. If something more serious is suspected, a doctor may order additional tests.

Click here to learn more about breast pain diagnosis or continue reading to learn more about the different breast pain treatments there are.


Breast tenderness and swelling can occur throughout a woman’s life and is not usually a sign of a serious condition. Find information on different causes of breast tenderness and swelling, such as fluctuations in hormone levels, infection and tumors. Learn how to handle this condition when it occurs as a menopause symptom. Initial approaches aim to re-balance and maintain hormone levels.


Breast Pain Treatments

Fortunately, a number of self-care measures and natural treatments can help to relieve breast pain during menopause with little or no side effect risks. Self-care can include avoiding dietary and lifestyle triggers, getting regular exercise, massage, and relaxation techniques.

Herbs: natural therapies are good options to relieve breast pain symptomsWhile these can help a woman reduce the severity of breast pain, they alone cannot reach the root problem of hormonal imbalance. Natural therapies are safe and effective methods of relieving breast pain symptoms by targeting the root cause of hormonal imbalance. A majority of women find that a combination of self-care and natural therapies is the best way to address breast pain in menopause.

Experts recommend exploring medical options only after these other methods have failed to provide relief, because these are often more invasive and carry greater risks.

Click on the following link to learn specific treatments for breast pain, which begin with lifestyle changes, move onto alternative medicines, and finally, if those options don't seem to help, drugs and surgery. The most effective treatments for breast pain typically combine lifestyle changes and alternative medicines.


Breast pain affects many women daily and is one of the most common symptoms of menopause. Breast pain is typically caused by hormone fluctuations, specifically of estrogen and progesterone. Several natural approaches to overcoming breast pain are maintaining a healthy diet, getting plenty of exercise, and reducing stress.


  • 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.
34 Menopause Symptoms