Breast Tenderness (mastalgia)

Breast pain also knows as mastalgia effects women of all ages and may manifest at different stages of life. Breast pain is commonly experienced by women in their reproductive age group and uncommon after manopaus. Severity of breast pain can vary in women and breast pain can vary in you from menstrual cycle to cycle. Pain can be just mild discomfort and sometimes the pain can be sever and can hinder you day to day activities. Due to increase in the incidence of breast cancer cases, women worry that their breast pain may be due to underlying breast cancer, but remember breast pain doesn’t always mean breast cancer.

Types of breast pain:
  1. Cyclical breast pain: this is the type of pain which is commonly seen in second half of menstrual cycle, hence related to menstrual cycle.
  2. Non-cyclical breast pain: this is the type of pain that can appear any time of the month and not related to menstrual cycle, hence unrelated to menstrual cycle.
What is cyclical breast pain?
  • This is the most common type of breast pain that women experience.
  • As the name suggests this type of breast pain is linked to your menstrual cycle that means it’s hormonal dependent.
  • This type of pain is seen in reproductive age group between the ages of 20 and 50 years.
  • Most of the women experience pain in both breast and pain can start one or two weeks before period starts and pain subsides once your period starts.
  • In this type of pain both breast are affected and radiates to underarms.
  • Once you attain menopause (when ovary function stops) this pain disappears.
What can I do when I have cyclical breast pain?
  • You need to wear comfortable and well-fitted bra.
  • You may be advised to take some painkiller tablets
  • Sometimes you be advised to take vitamin B6 and folic acid, as there is some evidence that this may help in breast pain.
  • If you are on oral contraceptive pills then you may have to talk to your doctor if they need to be continued or use any alternative methods.
  • Sometimes you may be advised to take evening primrose oil capsules, these capsules should be taken daily for al least three months. For more details, check with your doctor.
  • Some lifestyle modifications during these days can also help you such as
  • Having balanced diet with at least five portions of fruits and vegetables.
  • Decrease your intake of caffeine, red wine and stop taking chocolates during these days.
  • Regular exercise, at least 30 minutes is advisable.
What is non-cyclical breast pain?
  • As the name suggests, non-cyclical breast pain is not related to your menstrual cycle (periods).
  • Like cyclical pain, which decrease after menstruation, this non-cyclical pain will not subside even after your menstruation.
  • This pain can happen even after you attain menopause. In this situation you will notice pain in one or both the breast.
  • Usually seen in women in the age group of 40-50 years.
  • Most of the time the pain can be described as burning pain, pulling type of pain, sore, pain on taking deep breaths.
  • This type of pain could be due to scarring from previous breast surgery, due to poor posture or due to some recent stretching exercise.
  • Sometimes the pain in the breast could be due to pain coming from tissues underlying the breast such as chest wall muscles or ribs.
What can I do when I have cyclical breast pain?
  • You may be advised to try evening primerose oil capsules, but this treatment may not be very effective.
  • If the pain is due to underlying muscle, you may be prescribed to take some anit-inflammatory pill or cream.
  • May be advised to do some lifestyle modifications such as regular exercise, reduce caffeine intake, if over weight you need to loose weight.
  • If pain persists even after or you have concerns, talk to your doctor, please do not ignore