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Breast Pain during Irregular Periods

Breast pain affects just under 70% of women, and is caused by a vast number of reasons. The two categories that all breast pain falls under are cyclical and non-cyclical, with cyclical being the primary type. This type of breast pain is caused by hormones, and therefore, a link between breast pain and irregular periods will be cyclical in nature, so can often be predicted. Keep reading to find out more about breast pain during irregular periods.

Breast Pain during Irregular Periods

Breast Pain

Inside the breast, there are many glands and milk ducts, which are designed to fill with milk once the woman has a baby. When hormone levels change or fluctuate, these ducts grow and fat deposit levels increase, leading to swelling of the breast. This can be a source of discomfort or pain, and is most of the time linked to the menstrual cycle.

Irregular Periods

The average period is five days long, although it can be anywhere from two to seven days. The time between periods is normally quite regular for most women, too - there can be some variation in personal cycles, but in general, there will be 28 days between the beginning of one period and the beginning of another.

However, a woman who has irregular periods will often find she has no fixed pattern and is unable to predict when her next period will arrive. The time between the periods will be different every time, leaving the woman unsure as to whether she is early or late. The amount of blood lost will also differ each time, and there is no guessing how many days each period will last.

Hormones and Breast Pain

Irregular periods are most often caused by an imbalance of estrogen and progesterone. Therefore, many women find that the two go hand in hand. However, the fluctuating levels of hormones will not only affect the uterine activity (as would be expected), but also have an adverse effect on breast tissue, often leading it to become sore or inflamed. Therefore, women who have regular periods - and therefore reasonably steady hormonal levels - are less likely to suffer from cyclical breast pain. Nonetheless, when hormone levels dip during premenstrual syndrome (PMS), women are more likely to experience breast pain, even if their cycle is regular.

Irregular periods will most often be an issue just after puberty and just before menopause, when the hormonal levels are at their most unpredictable, and this tallies with the times when women are more likely to experience breast pain. There are a number of ways of managing breast pain and irregular periods by keeping the hormone levels on a more even keel, either through lifestyle changes, herbal supplements, or medications.

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Sources:
  • Better Health Channel. (2011) Breast conditions other than breast cancer. Retrieved September 24, 2014, from http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Breast_conditions_other_than_breast_cancer
  • Breast cancer care. (2013). Breast pain. Retrieved September 24, 2014, from http://www.breastcancercare.org.uk/breast-cancer-information/benign-breast-conditions/breast-pain#noncyclical
  • National Breast Cancer Foundation. (2012). Breast Pain. Retrieved September 24, 2014, from http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-pain
  • National Health Service UK. (2013). Causes of irregular periods. Retrieved September 24, 2014, from
  • http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Periods-irregular/Pages/Causes.aspx
  • National Health Service UK. (2012). Cyclical breast pain. Retrieved September 24, 2014, from http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/breastpaincyclical/Pages/Introduction.aspx
  • National Health Service UK. (2014). Period problems. Retrieved September 24, 2014, from http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/menstrualcycle/Pages/Periodproblems.aspx#Irregular
  • National Institutes of Health. (2012). Breast pain. Retrieved September 24, 2014, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003152.htm