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Why Do My Breasts Hurt Before I Get My Period?

Updated on June 7, 2015
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Wendi enjoys reading fiction and writing. She has been a Top Reviewer and Advisor on Epinions, and has a variety of hubs to view!

Remarkably Sore and Uncomfortable

If you're like me, you have terrible breast pain for about a week or more before your period. Since I was eleven, I have had terrible periods and cramps, and my breasts swell and feel literally like heavy bags of cement every month for over a week before my period.

During this time, I wear two bras that hold the 'boulders' in place. If I so much as brush up against something or even lightly touch them, it makes me want to scream. They hurt so much going up and down the stairs, walking, running, exercise and during sex. The feel very dense and they are so tender- it's truly unbearable. It feels similar to when I was breast feeding and was bursting, but there is no relief.

The pain and bloating are there until right before I get my period, and then after the first day, the pain and swelling go away and they are normal in density and size. This always baffled me and I have talked to my doctor and I have also done a lot of research on the matter. There definitely are ways to make this pain easier if you experience it.

Why Do The Swell and Hurt?

Why Does PMS Hurt So Badly?

What is PMS?

PMS, or premenstrual syndrome, occurs because your body is sensitive to hormonal changes. In the week or 10 days before your period comes, hormone levels -progesterone and estrogen- they change rapidly. You can see on the chart above that progesterone climaxes during the days before a woman gets her period- which leads to all of the uncomfortable symptoms like swollen and tender breasts.

These hormones can cause symptoms such as bloating, mood swings, headache,breast tenderness, and fatigue.

As many as 90% of women experience some symptoms before their period, according to a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine, but many fewer -- 20% or less -- have symptoms severe enough to interfere with normal activities. Those women would definitely include me.

Personally, the only thing that helps me is to stay away from caffeine and to eat right- two things that I am not the best at doing. I don't drink coffee or caffeine because my body can't handle caffeine at all- it makes my breasts so tender that I can't stand it. But regardless, they still hurt from the hormones in my body. I will say that if I do drink caffeine it's worse, but I rarely do- I even stick to caffeine free soft drinks and I avoid coffee (even though I love it). I am fortunate that I have no taste for tea, so I do avoid tea as a source of caffeine. If I do drink coffee or caffeine, it definitely makes things a whole lot worse. And, I am sorry- but it's so bad- I can't even imagine it being worse.

I tend to get emotional to the point where it's pretty much ridiculous, however I find that vitamin D helps me curb my sobbing and makes me feel much better.

A high intake of calcium and vitamin D seems to reduce the risk of getting PMS. I still get it- but it makes the symptoms much more tolerable.

In fact, some experts have suggested that vitamin D and calcium deficiencies lead to the PMS. Having said that, I make sure to take these two supplements daily- and I drink a lot of milk. However, PMS is something I still have to deal with every month.

Again- What Causes Such Breast Pain?

A week or so before your period arrives, your body begins producing oodles of estrogen and progesterone. Those hormones are what cause all these fun symptoms. During this time, your body retains water, which is what causes you to become bloated. Rings, shoes, or pants may feel tight because your body swells with this extra water, which also makes your breasts swell. All that fluid forces your breast tissue to expand, which stretches the nerves that cause that painful and achy feeling.

Soon after you get your period, the soreness should disappear. If the pain is really bad, you can take an OTC pain reliever such as ibuprofen. Wearing a more supportive bra, like a sports bra, will prevent your breasts from moving too much, which can also reduce tenderness. Cutting down on salty foods can offer relief since eating excessive amounts of salt will make you retain even more water. **Source Pop Sugar Blog

What the Experts Have to Say

The most common cause of breast pain is a change in hormones that comes along with your period. This normal body response to shifts in estrogen typically manifests in swelling and tenderness on the day before your period begins and the first day of your flow, says Taraneh Shirazian, M.D., assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive science at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. This type of boob soreness is called cyclic pain, since it's related to your menstrual cycle. The good news: It should go away when your period ends. Birth control pills can help, says Shirazian, since they prevent ovulation and keep estrogen levels stable. And if you'd rather the skip the OTC pain reliever, primrose oil supplements may also ease soreness, she says.

Now personally, I have taken 'the pill.' While it absolutely DID relieve my breast pain, 'the pill' also left me with extremely HUGE breasts. My boyfriend even commented that my boobs were 'giant' all of a sudden. Not every woman experiences weight gain with 'the pill,' but I sure did. I went from a 36C to a 38DDD in just a couple of months, and of course- that brought on a whole new problem.

Nine Ways to Avoid Breast Tenderness Before Your Period

Wear less-constricting bras whenever possible. Avoid wearing under-wire and push-up bras. Try wearing camisoles with built-in shelf bras or sports bras for support.

  • Try wearing a sports bra at night for gentle support.
  • Better yet, try wearing two bras or support bras for extra binding- no one likes to flop all over the place!

Avoid caffeine. Although studies linking caffeine and breast tenderness are still underway and many have been inconclusive, some women have found reducing amounts of caffeine can help to reduce tenderness in the breast. I know caffeine makes my breast hurt more than ever- and I can definitely tell the difference between not drinking caffeine and drinking it- my breasts are so much less tender when I avoid caffeine.

Reduce fat in your diet and increase your vegetable intake. Aim for at least 20 percent or less of your total calories consumed. This makes a giant difference with me. If I eat a less fatty diet for a month, my breasts are much less tender and ache much less.

Take vitamins E, B6, and magnesium. Although the studies of these products are inconclusive, many women have found relief by adding these vitamins to their diet.

  • It is recommended by some naturalists to take 600 IU per day of vitamin E, 50 mg per day of vitamin B6, and 300 mg per day of magnesium.

Personally I find that if I take these supplements I feel much better and have less pain in my breasts before my period. I keep these vitamins in my desk and try to take them daily.

Take evening primrose oil. Once again, studies are inconclusive on this subject; however, some women do report a reduction in breast tenderness when they try this food supplement. Experts do not know the exact reason why evening primrose oil works, but they suspect that it replaces Linoleic acid, which can make the breasts less sensitive to hormonal changes.

I take primrose oil each night before bed- but I don't know if it helps or not. Some months I am really sore, and some months I sail through my period.


Apply ice packs to your breasts for 10 to 15 minutes when the pain is severe.Do not apply the ice directly to the breasts. Place the ice in a plastic bag, and wrap with a dishtowel.

  • You may also try a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a dishtowel. The frozen vegetables conform to the shape of the breast and are not as large as ice cubes.

I have used frozen peas or corn (not the actual vegetables, but the bag) and it seems to give me relief. I should reiterate- I get relief, but it's definitely not a cure.

Take over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen products (Tylenol, Anacin, Tempra) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as Ibuprofen (Motrin, Midol, Advil).

**The pain killers don't usually help me personally. My breasts are often to sore to cope with a pain reliever, however I do know some people who get immense relief from pain killers (OTC)

If desperate (I've thought about it but I couldn't go there- Ask you doctor about the benefits of the drugs tamoxifen and Danazol in relieving breast pain. These drugs are short-term solutions for extreme pain and are considered as a last resort for those women who do not respond to other therapies. However, tamoxifen and Danazol both have several unpleasant side effects.

Consider reducing the use of estrogen if you have had a hysterectomy. Some women find relief by taking 5 days off a month from hormonal therapy, although this step should be closely monitored by a doctor. (I have been told a dozen times by my doctor to get a hysterectomy, however since my mother had breast cancer I am more likely to get it, and I could do without the hormonal therapy.

Sources

Wiki How: http://www.wikihow.com/Alleviate-Breast-Tenderness

Pop Sugar blog- How To Alleviate Breast Tenderness

Archives of Internal Medicine


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    • Benny01 profile image

      Ijeoma Peter 23 months ago from Lagos, Nigeria

      Lyoness, this article is ver helpful. I also experience breast pains before my period, but I have learnt to reduce my sugar intake two weeks prior to my period. Thanks for sharing.

    • lyoness913 profile image
      Author

      Wendi Pembridge Skilling 23 months ago from Overland Park, KS

      Benny- I am fairly sure that my sugar intake is a part of it as well. I notice if I eat a lot of healthy fruits and vegetables, I also have less bloating and pain.

      Thanks for the comment!

      -Wendi

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