Breast pain and the menstrual cycle

Muhammad Usman Babar
4 min readJun 23, 2020

Breast pain is a very common symptom and usually does not imply the presence of disease. How is it related to the menstrual cycle? In this opportunity, we want to detail it.

Mastalgia is defined as breast pain, that is, breast pain. Unfortunately, many women experience it, to a greater extent, during PMS. Menstruation is influenced by a multitude of factors, with a relationship between breast pain and the menstrual cycle.

Often, it is common in young women and, with the onset of menopause, disappears. Around 70% of women have experienced it sometime in life. Learn more about this typical symptom during menstruation.

What is the relationship between breast pain and the menstrual cycle?

The menstrual cycle is nothing more than a process carried out by countless hormones that determine how and when the cycle will take place. Mastalgia turns out to be one of the most typical symptoms in different phases of the menstrual cycle.

It usually appears during the second half of the cycle (after ovulation, known as the luteal phase) and disappears at the beginning of the period. In this period hormonal changes like the following take place:

  • The estrogen usually peaks at ovulation. This is summarized in the growth of the mammary ducts.
  • Progesterone peaks a few days later (Day 21). This causes an enlarged breast lobule, which helps cells prepared for milk production to form.

To understand it better, the hormonal changes that occur during this phase cause inflammation, swelling, and enlargement of the breasts, which is painful on many occasions. Also, if pregnancy is carried out (by keeping progesterone high) they will continue to swell longer.

Biologically, the breasts have a greater number of receptors for these substances, which makes it a hormone-dependent gland. To a large extent, the breasts react more easily to hormones than the rest of the organs in the body.

Causes

Breast pain is mostly related to premenstrual syndrome (a week before menstruation) or benign breast changes (for example, fibrocystic breast disease). Although, in general, this is the case, there are risk factors such as those discussed below:

  • Consume diets rich in fat.
  • Too much caffeine, theine, or chocolate.
  • Family history of pain during the cycle.
  • Certain medications (hormones, antidepressants, etc.).
  • Large breast size (increases weight-bearing and may be accompanied by back or neck pain).
  • Having breast pain does not have to be a sign of breast cancer. Only 10% of cases of malignant breast tumors cause mild pain.

Symptoms

There is a difference between breast symptoms related to the menstrual cycle and those that do not develop due to cyclical processes.

Breast pain and the menstrual cycle (cyclical)

Breast symptoms influenced by the menstrual cycle are the most typical cause of breast pain and are known as premenstrual stress syndrome. As already seen in this article, it is caused by hormonal changes that are characterized by the following:

  • It affects young people.
  • As a general rule, it does not affect during or after menopause.
  • Homogeneous and bilateral distribution (that is, both breasts hurt and it extends throughout the mammary gland).
  • Swelling or inflammation.
  • Accumulation or retention of liquids in the breasts.
  • The slight increase in size.
  • Turgor (bulging and firm breasts).
  • Continuous pain (which can go from mild to severe) only during one stage of the cycle.
  • To the touch, small lumps or lumps are noticed throughout the breast.
  • Increased intensity of symptoms two weeks before menstruation.
  • The pain after the start of the period disappears.

Noncyclical breast pain

Unlike cyclical pain, other causes can cause breast symptoms. One of them is usually trauma or benign diseases, such as those mentioned in advance. Typical symptoms of atypical sinus pain (not common) include the following:

  • Continuous or intermittent pain, fixed at one point, described as burning, stabbing, or tearing.
  • Inflammation located at a point of the breast.
  • Symptoms do not vary over time or throughout a cycle.
  • It affects, to a greater extent, after menopause.
  • It is usually unilateral (only one breast hurts).

When to consult with a health professional?

In general, any non-cyclical cause is in favor of being studied, and a visit with doctors or gynecologists who assess it is recommended. It is necessary to increase vigilance in case of presenting the symptoms discussed below:

  • Change in the shape, color, or appearance of the breast skin.
  • Secretions or fluid in the breasts.
  • Hormonal alterations.
  • New, unusual, or changing lumps or bumps on the breasts.
  • Age over 40 years without previous mammograms.
  • Pain that does not subside and increases in intensity.
  • Signs of infection (heat, redness, pus, etc.).
  • Pain that interferes with daily activity.

In short, breast pain is associated with the menstrual cycle and the hormonal changes that occur in it. Very rarely does it alert to a serious problem, but it is necessary to be alert, especially if the pain is prolonged and severe.

--

--