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Breast 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.
Breast tenderness is a common symptom associated with menopause. Hypothyroidism is a much less well-known symptom and a potential side effect of menopause. There are many causes for each individual condition, but they both have an impact on the levels of hormones in the body.
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
Prior breast surgery
Oral contraceptive use
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
Cholesterol and heart drugs
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.
Breast pain can be a difficult issue to tackle for many women, but avoiding caffeine, changing birth control, or figuring out what other changes might help alleviate symptoms is a good place to start. Keep reading to find out more about the different causes of breast pain and the methods to treat it.
Breast Pain Diagnosis
While 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 are symptoms that can have many causes. Lifestyle changes, such as wearing certain clothing and cutting out salt or caffeine can help, as can various medications. Read the article on the topic to find out more about breast swelling and tenderness.
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.
While 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.
While breast pain generally only tends to affect those who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or going through the menopause there are certain types of breast pain associated with a woman's monthly cycle. Read about some traditional herbal remedies for treating breast pain and how they work.
- 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.
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