You might be familiar with “period boobs”, the painful sensation you feel in your breasts, days before your period starts. It’s usually caused by hormonal changes and is often part of what we call premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
As you go through menopause, you may also notice that your breasts feel tender and achy at unexpected times. The drastic shift in your hormones could be the reason behind this. However, breast tenderness in menopause has a different sensation compared with PMS. Instead of a dull ache, you may experience sharp and throbbing pain, in either one breast or both.
But here’s the good news – breast tenderness in menopause is normal and nothing to be scared about. Although sore breasts are uncomfortable, they are often considered harmless. However, in rare cases, this symptom could mean something else and it’s your job to listen. In this article, let’s explore why breast tenderness in menopause happens and what you can do to ease the pain!
THE BREASTS AND WHAT THEY DO FOR YOU
Why do we have breasts in the first place?
Breasts are part of the reproductive system and are also called accessory organs. They come in different shapes and sizes, but women have more developed breasts than men. This is because we have more estrogen and progesterone, hormones that are responsible for breast growth. While our breasts only have a few functions, they are essential for the survival of humanity.
The breasts’ primary function is to produce milk to nourish infants and babies. As we go through pregnancy, certain hormones stimulate the milk-making tissue in our breasts to grow and begin producing breast milk.
Aside from lactation, breasts also serve as sex organs. They contain thousands of nerve endings, making them one of the most sensitive parts of the body. Although they don’t take a big role in reproduction, they are specialized organs that make sex a pleasurable experience.
Our breasts undergo a lot of changes throughout life. They are dependent on our fats (weight gain or weight loss), muscle mass, hormones and aging. It is important for us to know the normal structure and function of our breasts, so we can detect abnormalities.
I HAVE BREAST TENDERNESS IN MENOPAUSE! WHY IS THIS HAPPENING?
Breast tenderness, also known as mastalgia, is a condition that occurs due to hormonal changes and breast structure. It can also be caused by pain in nearby organs, like the joint and bones, or it may be due to external factors.
There are basically two kinds of breast tenderness in menopause:
If you get breast soreness around your period every month, you are experiencing cyclical mastalgia. This is also known as fibrocystic breast change, which is a normal phase in our menstrual cycle caused by hormonal shifts. So, what happens to your hormones exactly?
Your estrogen levels increase in the first two weeks of your cycle to trigger ovulation. In the second half of your cycle, your progesterone levels go up. These changes make your breast swollen, heavy and sore. These hormonal shifts also make your breast tissues clamp together, forming benign cysts which may feel lumpy.
Cyclical breast soreness usually occurs in both breasts. Its pain characteristic is usually dull, achy and heavy. As your menstruation comes to an end and your hormones start stabilizing, the breast soreness and swelling will also disappear.
If your boobs hurt and your period is still far or is over, it’s called non-cyclical mastalgia. Non-cyclical breast tenderness happens intermittently. You may experience pain at one or both breasts. The pain may also be felt in one central location or in the entire breast. This type can be caused by several reasons:
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