Breast tenderness can be a result of normal changes in a woman’s body. On other occasions, it can also be caused by disease processes. Women often experience it in relation to their reproductive cycle, so the sensation can be cyclical. It often comes with swelling, and it can worsen with added pressure. This is the only symptom when tenderness is associated to hormonal changes. However, unusual breast tenderness that occurs outside the usual cycle might be caused by other conditions. When inflammation begins to manifest, other health issues might be at play.

Below, we shall discuss possible causes of breast tenderness as well as their treatments.

Hormonal Changes Which Cause Breast Tenderness

  • Pre-menstrual stress syndrome or PMS is a normal cause of breast tenderness. It often starts seven days or more before the menstrual period begins and ends once the period starts. Other women, however, may continue to suffer breast tenderness until the end of their menstrual cycle.

  • Women taking birth control pills sometimes experience breast tenderness as a side effect. Ironically, in some cases, breast control pills are prescribed to relieve this sensation associated with fibrocystic breast disease. If you experience breast tenderness only as a side effect of the birth control pill, ask the doctor to prescribe you a different one. 

  • Pregnancy is also one of the causes of breast tenderness. It is a common physical experience for pregnant women, especially during the first trimester. Instead of taking pain killers, natural remedies are advised to relieve the tenderness. Oftentimes, the pain is bearable so there is really no need to take any medication.

  • After childbirth, women produce milk to feed the baby, and the experience is often filled with discomfort or extreme pain. Tenderness during breast feeding is credited to the production of colostrum, or in rare cases, development of mastitis or milk duct infection. The sensation is known to affect women during the early stages of breastfeeding.

  • Hormone therapy prescribed to women going through menopause also experience breast tenderness. This is because of the sudden change in hormone levels in the body, causing breast tissue cells to multiply more rapidly. 

Diet and Breast Tenderness

There certain ingredients in our food which cause breast tenderness. See if your symptoms improve by eliminating some of these suspected foods from your diet.

  • Salt, or sodium, increases our body’s water-retention which could ultimately lead to breast tenderness and additional breast pain. High sodium foods such as cured meat, junk food and cheese are known to have high sodium content. Eliminate these high-sodium foods a week before your cycle begins.

  • Like its counterpart salt, sugar is also known as one of the causes of breast tenderness. It also contributes to the ‘ropey’ feel that breasts get before the menstrual cycle.

  • Experts also advise eliminating fatty foods in their diet to decrease breast tenderness. Aside from minimizing PMS symptoms, eating less fat and animal products contributes to overall health.

  • Caffeine makes breast tenderness worse and it contributes to breast lumpiness. Avoid drinking caffeine-rich beverages when suffering from both. 

Symptom Relief or Treatment

Breast tenderness, when caused by hormonal changes, is a normal reaction of the body. However, there are several ways on how you can relieve discomfort. Observe the following:

  • Wear a good breast support to make your breasts feel contained and minimize soreness.

  • Make exercise a daily habit to lessen the symptoms of PMS

  • Hot or cold treatments can also alleviate the pain. Try either of the two to see which is best for you.

  • If not pregnant, you can also take certain pain killers such as ibuprofen. Remember that taking pain relievers regularly is not advisable; take it only during times when pain is at its worst.