Breasts develop due to an increase in estrogen during puberty, and during the menstrual cycle when various hormones cause change in breast tissue that can lead to pain or discomfort in some women. Mastalgia is the scientific name for breast pain and according to California Pacific Medical Center occurs in 5o to 70 percent of women. This pain can be associated with a woman’s menstrual cycle or it cannot be associated with it. Mastalgia may be related to breast tenderness or associated with the feeling of fullness in the breasts. Various factors:
- Lumpy – fibrocystic breast tissue → breast soreness and pain,
- Hormone fluctuations → menopause, pregnancy, puberty → pain or discomfort,
- Emotional stress → hormonal changes → menstrual cycle,
- Abnormal prolactin levels → pain and discomfort,
- Breast size → large breasts may have noncyclic breast pain which may radiate to the neck, shoulder and back,
- Breast surgery → lingering pain after an incision,
- Breast structure → noncyclic breast pain from a cyst, trauma, or radiating pain from elsewhere,
- Fatty acid imbalance → affects sensitivity of breast tissue to circulating hormones,
- Breast feeding → pain.
For a woman suffering from breast pain woman it is vital to maintain a log of the symptoms as they fluctuate with the menstrual cycle. The following natural treatments can help alleviate breast pain in certain cases:
- Dietary modifications
- Reduction in caffeine consumption
- Reduction in sodium intake
- Vitamin E supplementation
- Evening primrose oil
- Calcium supplementation
- Thyroid hormone supplements
- Estrogen receptor blockers (i.e. tamoxifen)
- Wearing a supportive bra
Many women do fear when they have breast pain it may be linked to cancer, however, this is generally rarely the case. Please call our clinic if you are suffering from breast pain, so that we may determine the correct course of treatment for you and if a referral to a traditional Western OBGYN is necessary.
Pregnant women must keep in mind that breast tenderness may be a common side effect of early pregnancy, therefore taking pain relievers should be done with caution, especially if the breast pain is a new occurrence.
Figure 1 – Image of a normal breast.
As mentioned, hormonal changes are the most common cause of mastalgia, but noncyclic causes are also a common cause. Additionally, breast pain can occur in both men and women. Please call Denver Holistic Medicine to set up an appointment today.