About Breast Tenderness

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Woman who suffer from breast tenderness

Breast tenderness is a common symptom during menopause and other times of hormonal fluctuation. During menopause, when hormonal levels are in flux, a woman is more likely to develop breast tenderness. Though postmenopausal women may also experience breast tenderness, it is most common in premenopausal and perimenopausal women.

Breast tenderness is a common complaint among females, affecting as many as 70% of women during their lifetimes. Only a small portion of these women, about 10%, will experience severe breast symptoms, which can have a significant impact on relationships, work, and daily life.

It is important to know that breast tenderness rarely signals breast cancer. Most cases of breast tenderness around menopause are caused by normal hormonal changes in the body. Becoming more educated about breast tenderness during menopause is one of the best ways to understand and manage this symptom. Please read on to learn more about breast tenderness.

Breast tenderness, often referred to medically as mastalgia, mastodynia, and mammalgia, is the general term used to mean discomfort, sensitivity, or pain in one or both of the breasts when touch or pressure is applied. Some people use the term more generally to mean any breast discomfort.

Many women experience breast tenderness around the time of menstruation or during pregnancy, when the hormones estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone are in flux. As with menstruation and pregnancy, menopause involves hormonal fluctuations, and; thus, can also cause breast tenderness and pain.

Breast tenderness can be experienced differently at different times in the lifecycle and can also vary based on a woman's own unique physiology and genetics. Nevertheless, some symptoms are common to breast tenderness. Please read on to learn more about the common symptoms of breast discomfort during menopause.

Symptoms of Breast Tenderness

Breast tenderness during menopause can be persistent or intermittent. Some women will experience symptoms in both breasts, while for others breast tenderness will only affect one breast. The following are the most common symptoms of breast tenderness.

Common Symptoms of Breast Tenderness

Breast swelling

Breast soreness

Increased sensitivity to pressure

Dull, heavy, or aching feelings

Discomfort with movement

Pain while sleeping


The anatomy of the breast

Please read on to learn more about the different types of breast tenderness that can occur during a woman's life.

Causes of Breast Tenderness

Hormonal change is the most cause of cyclical breast tenderness during menopause. During the menopausal transition, levels of estrogen and progesterone become irregular. Spikes and dips in these hormone levels can lead some women to experience breast tenderness.

Rare Causes of Breast Tenderness

Breast cancer

Medication use

Breast cysts

Breast trauma

Prior breast surgery

Breast size



Alcohol intake

For some women, breast tenderness is caused by too little or too much estrogen, but for others it is caused by too little progesterone. No one specific hormone has been singled out as the sole contributor to breast discomfort.

Additionally, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) used during menopause can also cause breast tenderness. This explains why some women on HRT continue to experience breast tenderness even after menopause.

Now that the symptoms and causes of breast tenderness are better understood, the next step is to learn more about how to treat breast tenderness during menopause. Because breast tenderness can also be considered a type of breast pain, both are treated with the same approaches during menopause. These approaches range from lifestyle changes and natural therapies to more invasive medical options. To learn more about breast tenderness treatments, please see the helpful information about breast pain treatments.

Is Breast Tenderness a Sign of Menopause?

Breast tenderness is an irritating symptom of menopause, but it can be treated. Hormonal fluctuations is the main cause of breast tenderness, so it is important to try and restore that balance. Making simple lifestyle changes and trying herbal remedies, like soy or black cohosh, have been known to be beneficial in easing breast tenderness.

Q&A: Why do I Have Breast Pain?

Breast pain commonly occurs in women as a result of hormonal fluctuations, so may affect a woman during the transitional menopause period. Find answers to commonly asked questions about breast pain. These include how this issue differs from woman to woman, as well as its symptoms and treatment options such as adopting lifestyle changes.