Breast pain is a common symptom that affects about 70% of women, and can be caused by common hormonal changes related to PMS, menstruation or menopause, but in some cases it may be related to other more serious situations like breastfeeding mastitis, presence of cysts in the breast, or even, breast cancer.
Breast pain can be controlled with home remedies such as warm compress, massage during bath and comfortable clothing and bra, and rarely need to use medications, but in any case if the pain and discomfort remain for more than 15 days and if it does not appear to be related to menstruation or menopause, you should go to the gynecologist for an evaluation, and if necessary, perform tests.
Main causes of breast pain
Mastalgia can occur in only one breast or both at the same time, and may even radiate to the arm. This breast pain can be mild, being considered normal, but can also be severe preventing the accomplishment of daily tasks. Here we indicate the most common causes and pain in the breast, and when it can be cancer, that is the main fear of the woman.
1. Beginning of Puberty
Girls between the ages of 10 and 14, who are entering puberty, may experience minor pain or discomfort in the breasts that are beginning to grow, and become more sore.
- What to do: No specific treatment is needed, but bathing in warm water may relieve discomfort. At this stage it is also important to wear a bra that provides good support for breast size.
2. PMS or Menstruation
Before and during menstruation the hormonal changes can cause mastalgia in some women, not being serious, although it bother every month, it could cause stitches in the breast, tenderness in the breasts or the beak of the breast. When the pain is mild or moderate and lasts from 1 to 4 days, it is considered normal, but when it lasts more than 10 days and radiates to the arm or armpit causes many disorders and one should go to the doctor to investigate.
- What to do: Medications are rarely taken, but taking a birth control pill may help relieve symptoms and may also help decrease menstrual cramps. When the pain bothers you greatly, your gynecologist may indicate taking Bromocriptine, Danazol, Tamoxifen, and as natural options, Agnus Castus, Primrose Oil, or Vitamin E, which should be taken for 3 months to then evaluate the results.
The breasts can become especially sensitive at the beginning and the end of the pregnancy due to their growth of the mammary glands or production of breast milk, for example. If you suspect you may be pregnant check out the first 10 symptoms of pregnancy.
- What to do: Putting warm compresses can help relieve the discomfort, as well as taking a bath with warm water and massaging the area. In pregnancy it is recommended to use breastfeeding bra for better support of the breasts.
4. Breast pain in breastfeeding
During breastfeeding when the breasts are full of milk, the breasts can become hard and very sore, but if the sharp pain is located in the beak of the breast, this can indicate a crack, which causes intense pain and even bleeding.
- What to do: If the breast is full of milk the best strategy is to breastfeed or take the milk with a pump. If the nipples are sore, the area should be well observed to check for any clogged ducts or cracks at the pain site, which prevents milk from passing through and may cause mastitis, which is a more serious condition. So if you have problems with breastfeeding, the nurse specialist in obstetrics can tell you in person what to do to solve this problem. Learn to solve this and other common problems of breastfeeding.
5. Use of medicines
Taking certain medications such as Aldomet, Aldactone, Digoxin, Anadrol and Chlorpromazine has the side effect of breast pain.
- What to do: The doctor should be informed about the onset of this symptom and also its intensity. The doctor may check the possibility of indicating another medication that does not cause mastalgia.
6. Cysts in the breast
Some women have an irregular breast tissue called fibrocystic breasts, which can cause pain primarily before menstruation. This type of problem is not linked to cancer, but it also causes the formation of nodules in the breasts that can grow or disappear on their own.
- What to do: In cases where the pain is not related to menstruation, you can use medicines like Tylenol, Aspirin or Ibuprofen, under medical indication. Learn how breast cancer treatment is done.
7. Change of contraceptive
When starting to take or change contraceptives, breast pain may occur, which may be mild or moderate and usually affects both breasts at the same time, and may also have a burning sensation.
- What to do: Massage during the bath and wearing a comfortable bra can be a good solution while the body does not adapt to the contraceptive pill, which can take 2 to 3 months.
In addition to these causes there are many others such as trauma, physical exercise, thrombophlebitis, sclerosing adenosis, benign tumors or macrocysts, which can be clarified by the gynecologist or mastologist. Thus, if breast pain continues to be present even with the home remedies we indicate here, it is recommended that the doctor can make the diagnosis and indicate the most appropriate treatment for each situation.
When breast pain may be cancer
Rarely, breast pain is a sign of cancer, since malignant tumors usually do not cause pain. In the case of breast cancer other symptoms should be present as discharge from the nipple, depression in a part of the breast. Check out the 12 symptoms of breast cancer.
Women who are at higher risk for breast cancer are those who have a mother or grandmother with breast cancer, over 45 years of age, and those who have had some form of cancer. Young women who breastfed and who had only benign lesions or even benign cyst in the breast are no longer at risk of breast cancer.
In any case, in case of suspicion one should go to the gynecologist to investigate and perform the mammography from the 40 years of age.
When to seek medical advice
One should seek the doctor when the chest pain is strong or lasts more than 10 consecutive days, or if it arises along with symptoms such as:
- Clear or bloody discharge in the nipple;
- Redness or pus in the breast;
- Fever or
- The appearance of a lump in the breast after menstruation.
In addition, it is important to go to the gynecologist at least once a year to do tests that assess the health of the breast and reproductive system, preventing problems and identifying diseases early on.
The doctor usually evaluates the breasts by observing the location of the pain, if there are changes such as asymmetry or retraction of the breast at some point, and also look for inflamed or painful armpits or clavicles to check if there is a need to request examinations such as mammography, ultrasound or breast ultrasound, especially if there are cases of breast cancer in the family.