Relation of breast soreness with the menstrual cycle
Breasts develop under the action of estrogen and progesterone. During pregnancy, the levels of estrogen and progesterone vary determining the phase of the period. Since the levels change during the menstrual cycle they produce changes in the breasts as well. These changes range from a simple increase in size to irritating pain, often referred to as breast soreness.
Doctors call this breast pain or soreness “Mastalgia” and divide it into two types i.e. cyclic and non-cyclic. If the pain occurs regularly with your menstrual cycle at a specific day of the period and goes away once the periods are over it is called cyclic pain. However, if it occurs at random times and doesn’t usually go away once the periods are over it is called non-cyclic pain.
The breast soreness or pain varies in intensity from mere heaviness to sharp pain. In case you are a breastfeeding mother, you might have additional concerns like how to increase milk production, is it even safe to breastfeed in certain health conditions, or what if you have breast soreness while breastfeeding. Don’t worry, let’s explain things in a simple way for you.
What causes breast soreness or pain?
It is mostly the cyclic pain which is associated with the menstrual cycle and usually occurs after ovulation i.e. before the periods start. What happens is as the ovulation occurs the levels of estrogen start decreasing and the levels of progesterone increase.
Although the pathway is not clear; however, the changing levels of hormones during this period are considered the cause of breast soreness. The fact that the soreness improves once the periods begin further solidifies the logic because the hormones start becoming normal.
Breasts still sore after periods end, is it normal?
Cyclic pain is a normal thing. It occurs to most of the women and goes away once the periods occur. However, for some women breasts still stay sore after the period ends. If the pain goes on its own in a couple of days after the periods there is nothing to worry about. It may take a couple of days for the hormones to become normal. But if the pain persists longer you may want to look into the causes of the pain.
Most commonly this type of pain has nothing to do with the menstrual cycle and has some pathology associated with it. There is nothing much to worry at this point as most of the causes of this pain are easily treatable. However, you need to visit your doctor and figure things out.
Some causes if your breasts are still sore after periods end
If your breasts are still sore after the period ends here are some causes for it:
- Sometimes the breast milk ducts get clogged with milk or infection and end up causing breast soreness or pain.
- A dense and lumpy breast is due to the fibrocystic tissue. It is usually painful and the pain often persists after the period ends.
- Uncomfortable bras or inappropriate size bras can cause breast soreness.
- A history of breast surgery or implant can cause breast soreness.
- Breast injury can cause breast pain.
- Breast infection is painful which may turn into a breast abscess in severe cases.
- Since hormones are the cause of the pain, taking hormonal medication can cause breast soreness.
- Certain medications like; diuretics, methyldopa, spironolactone, oxymetholone, digitalis, chlorpromazine, etc.
- Sometimes a simple dehydration or diet variation can produce breast soreness.
- In rare cases, breast cancer can be the cause of your breast soreness or pain. But in such a case you can feel a lump inside your breast in a majority of the cases.
Remedies for sore breasts after periods
Start from the simple lifestyle changes and move on to medical remedies if the soreness persists. Here is what you can do if your breasts are still sore after the period ends:
- Improve hydration.
- Eating a healthy diet which includes; fruits, vegetables, cereals, etc. can help in reducing breast soreness.
- Give up coffee, smoking, tea, energy drinks, soda, and alcohol as they can cause breast soreness.
- Reducing salt content in your meals is also important to avoid water retention.
- Try wearing a more comfortable bra especially at night.
- Make sure that you are wearing an appropriate size bra to avoid breast soreness.
- You can use ice packs or heating pads to reduce the pain.
- Adding vitamin supplements especially vitamin E and vitamin B-6 has shown to reduce breast pain markedly.
- Avoid heavy exercises like running, jogging or jumping as these exercises increase the breast soreness. On the other hand, light exercises help to reduce soreness.
- Avoid stress, most of the times the breast pain is found to be aggravated by stress.
- If you are on the healthier side, reducing weight is not a bad idea. Besides reducing breast pain, it also reduces the risk of a lot of other harmful diseases.
- If these remedies don’t work giving your doctor a visit will be appropriate. He can advise you some NSAIDs to help with the pain. These NSAIDs include; ibuprofen or acetaminophen, etc.
- For non-cyclic pain finding out the cause and treating the underlying cause of the breast soreness or pain is the treatment of choice.
When to see a doctor?
Here are a few signs which indicate that this is the time you should visit a doctor now:
- If you feel a lump inside the breast tissue whether it causes the pain or not you should get is assessed by the doctor.
- You are noticing a foul-smelling or bloody discharge from the nipple.
- If your breasts are still sore after the periods end and the pain persists for weeks you should consult your doctor.
- The painkillers are not relieving the pain anymore.
- If you have a fever or the breasts are red or warm this shows an active infection. Although the antibiotics are the answer. However, you need to consult a doctor for the right antibiotic.
The bottom line is that the cyclic pain usually occurs before the periods start and goes away on its own with the start of the periods. However, if the pain persists weeks after the periods it certainly is not normal and should be evaluated by a doctor.