6 Possible Causes Of Breast Pain And When One Should Worry


6 Possible Causes Of Breast Pain And When One Should Worry

You probably know what breast pain feels like – most women do. And many women who experience breast pain wonder: "Could it be cancer?" Here is the short answer: It’s highly unlikely. Breast pain is usually caused by normal hormonal changes or by benign conditions. Contrary to what many people may think, breast cancer doesn’t always cause breast pain (it may not show any symptoms in the beginning) and is usually found during routine breast exams.

6 possible causes of breast pain

So, what causes of breast pain are more common? Here are six of them:

Fibrocystic breast changes

This is a benign condition that causes breasts to feel lumpy due to the presence of cysts and fibroids. These growths react to hormonal changes and may hurt shortly before and/or during your period. The pain affects both breasts. Women who still have periods and females who are on hormone therapy to treat menopause symptoms are more likely to experience pain caused by fibrocystic breasts.

Wearing uncomfortable bra

Wearing bras that don’t fit well and don’t give proper support to breasts can cause them to hurt. This can be easily fixed by wearing support bras that fit you right and wearing sports bras during exercise.

Use of certain medicines

Breast pain can appear as a side effect of some drugs that include hormone therapy drugs, oral contraceptives (though these can sometimes do the opposite – ease breast pain), and some antidepressants, e.g., selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).


This is a less common cause of breast pain, which is an infection of the breast. Breastfeeding women are more likely to get it, but the infection can affect any woman. Besides breast pain, women who have mastitis also have symptoms that include warmth, redness, and swelling of the breast, fever, aches, and feeling tired.

Breast surgery

Scar that forms after the incision has healed can sometimes be painful.

Having heavy breasts

Apart from making sleeping, exercising, and other activities uncomfortable, large breast can sometimes hurt simply because of their size. The solution, in this case, is to wear quality bras that fit well and feel comfortable. Some women with heavy breasts may also benefit from sleeping in a bra.

When to see a doctor

See a doctor if:

  • the pain is severe;
  • the pain is clearly unrelated to your periods;
  • the pain is persistent;
  • the pain is accompanied by other symptoms, such as nipple discharge.

Cyclic pain and noncyclic pain

There are two types of breast pain: cyclic pain and non-cyclic pain.

The former is related to your menstrual cycle, affects both breasts, usually feels like soreness and heaviness, occurs before the period starts, and is commonly seen in younger women.

Non-cyclic pain is not related to a woman’s menstrual cycle, usually affect one breast and one specific area in the breast, often feels sharp and burning, and mainly affects women aged 30 to 50.

How to relieve breast pain at home

You may or may not need treatment for your breast pain, but there are some things you can do yourself to relieve it:

  • try applying cold or hot compresses to the breasts;
  • try to remove coffee, tea, or other sources of caffeine from your diet temporarily and see if it eases pain – it works for some women;
  • limit fat in your diet and eat more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains;
  • change your bra if it causes discomfort;
  • try relaxation techniques, as they can make you calmer and change your perception of pain;
  • use an over-the-counter painkiller, e.g. aspirin or ibuprofen, if your doctor allows this;
  • try a supplement, such as magnesium or vitamin E, but consult your doctor before starting to use it.

This article is purely for informational purposes. Do not self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for harm that may result from using the information stated in the article.

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