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Q&A: Breast Tenderness

Breast tenderness and other menopause symptoms:

Breast tenderness can occur as a result of changing levels of hormones in the body. Such an occurrence can be attributed to many factors in a woman's life, including pregnancy. However, it is caused by the hormonal imbalance of menopause. In addition to breast tenderness, other menopause symptoms can include: irregular periods, weight gain, brittle nails, depression, and after a few years, osteoporosis.

Breast tenderness is often wrongly thought to be a potential sign of breast cancer. However, breast tenderness is a common symptom many women experience, affecting up to 70% of women over the course of their lives.

What Is Breast Tenderness?

The medical names for breast tenderness are mastalgia, mastodynia and mammalgia. Regardless of its medical name, breast pain refers to any form of pain, discomfort or sensitivity in the breast area.

When Do Women Experience Breast Tenderness?

Breast tenderness typically occurs during times of hormone fluctuations. Such a flux can be attributed to a number of body-altering stages of a woman's life. These can include:

  • Menstruation
  • Pregnancy
  • Menopause

What Are the Symptoms of Breast Tenderness?

There may be a number of different reasons for women to experience breast tenderness. Such indicators can include:

Q&A: Breast Tenderness
  • Swelling of the breast
  • Soreness of the breast
  • Dull, heavy or aching feelings in the breast
  • Pain while sleeping or relaxing
  • Discomfort from simple movement
  • Sensitivity to pressure
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Aches and pains

Other Causes of Breast Tenderness

Q&A: Breast Tenderness

Other reasons can exist for women who are experiencing breast tenderness. One reason is due to the use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT), since breast tenderness is one of the side effects of HRT. A lack of progesterone has also been noted as one potential reason for breast tenderness.

While unlikely, other reasons for breast tenderness may exist and these include:

  • Stress
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol
  • Breast cancer
  • Breast cysts
  • The use of certain medications
  • Mastitis
  • The size of a woman's breasts
  • Previous breast surgery

HRT may also be used as a treatment for the menopausal symptom of breast pain, but it carries risks with it, including increased breast tenderness and a higher potential for breast cancer, among many others. For that reason, it is important that all treatments for breast tenderness and for any symptoms of menopause are considered carefully.

How to Cope with Breast Pain

Home remedies like cold compresses and warm baths can help you cope with breast pain caused by hormone fluctuations.

Breast Swelling and Tenderness

Concerned about breast tenderness and swelling? Read this article about the causes and treatments of these annoying symptoms.

Breast Tenderness Causes

Many women are able to chart their menstrual cycle through the pain in their breasts because of the symptoms direct link to hormones.

Sources:
  • BMJ Group. "Menopause: What is it?" Patient Leaflet. 2007.
  • 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.