Causes of Pain in Breasts
- A change in a woman's hormone levels can cause breast pain. This tenderness most often comes before a menstrual period as hormonal changes cause painful cysts to form. These usually disappear during the monthly cycle. Other hormonal changes can also cause pain in the breasts. This is quite common during both puberty and menopause.
- Pain in the breasts is one of the first symptoms of pregnancy. This occurs mostly in the first trimester as the body prepares itself for pregnancy. The pain will occur again at the end of the pregnancy as the breasts prepare to lactate. As they fill with milk, they become very tender, something which continues after birth until a woman nurses (or allows the milk in the breasts to dry up if not breastfeeding).
- An infection in the breast is a possible cause of pain. Symptoms of an infection include swelling and redness. Discharge and tenderness are also possible, sometimes accompanied by fever. Breast infections are more common surrounding childbirth. A visit to a health professional is necessary for a suspected breast infection as antibiotics are needed to treat the infection.
- An injury to the breast, ribcage or surrounding muscles can cause pain in the breast. This can occur from an accident or something as simple as wearing an improperly fitted bra during exercise. If injury is causing the breast pain, it needs to heal. A doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication to help reduce the swelling and pain.
Fibrocystic Breast Changes
- Fibrocystic breast changes are a non-cancerous (benign) condition that many women have. It causes painful lumps to appear throughout the breasts. These lumps are often very painful. They will, however, change in size and discomfort throughout the monthly cycle. While fibrocystic disease is not breast cancer, there is a slightly higher risk of developing breast cancer if you have this condition.
- Malignant tumors rarely cause pain in the breasts, but no pain or lump should be ignored. Regular breast cancer screening---self-exams, mammography and annual exams---is important for early detection of breast cancer. If any unusual changes occur to the breast between routine screenings, a health professional should be notified to see if further testing is necessary.