why my breast hurt before my period
My menstrual cycles are regular, but my breasts get really sore for about 10 days before. Lately I've noticed that when my breasts are sore, the lymph node under one of my arms swells up. Is this any cause for concern? I'm 22 years old. Breast pain is one of the most common breast-related symptoms women experience. It's called
mastalgia in medicalese, and was first described in the medical literature as early as 1829. Lymph nodes can swell in response to changes in the breast. Women associate lymph node swelling with cancer, however, the lymphatic system gets "turned on" whenever there is a hormonal change. Lymph nodes are also designed primarily to fight off infection. It sounds like what you're experiencing is cyclic mastalgia, or breast pain related to your menstrual cycle. One large US study found that 69 percent of women attending an ob-gyn clinic experienced regular premenstrual breast pain. It's not considered cyclical mastalgia, however, unless the pain occurs for at least seven days a month, as you say yours does, and is quite severe, as it sound like yours is. I can understand your distress, since many studies find that the pain from cyclic mastalgia can interfere with sleep, work, school, social functioning, physical activity, even sexual activity. That's a lot to have to deal with for 10 days a month! Despite numerous studies, no one really knows for sure what causes cyclical mastalgia, although there are several suspects. Have you ever been evaluated for fibrocystic breasts? Pain and tenderness are common symptoms of this condition, although the most common are breast lumps (don't worry, it's not related to cancer). There's some evidence that fibrocystic breasts might be related to cyclic mastalgia. It makes sense to think that hormones are behind the regular pain, particularly since your pain is linked to your menstrual cycle, but no one has yet been able to demonstrate that connection conclusively. Some studies find hormone deficiencies or excesses may play a role, including high levels of prolactin, a hormone associated with breast feeding.
Another possible cause: diet. Try cutting back on dietary fat and caffeine and see if that helps. One thing you probably don't have to worry about is breast cancer. The link between cyclical mastalgia and breast cancer is very tenuous. And given your age, it's highly unlikely this will be a concern. However, one thing concerns me about your problem. Studies find that cyclic mastalgia typically occurs in women in their 30s or 40s; you're still in your 20s. I'm also concerned about the pain you say you feel in the lymph node under your arm. So I think it's important that you see your health care provider for a complete physical examination. At that time, you can also talk about what you can do to relieve the pain. Possible options include: A more supportive bra (an estimated 70 percent of women wear bras that don't fit right). Try wearing it at night, as well. Relaxation techniques. One study of women with breast pain who listed to a tape of progressive muscle relaxation for four weeks found 61 percent experienced a substantial or complete relief of the pain, compared to 25 percent of a control group who didn't listen to the tape. Evening primrose oil. A few small studies find some benefit from taking recommended doses of this supplement. Evening primrose oil is an excellent source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, which may be the reason for its benefits. Pain relievers. Aspirin, ibuprofen, and even topical analgesics that you rub on the breast may help with the pain. Medications. If none of these non-prescription remedies help, talk to your healthcare provider about prescription drugs. Most are hormonal remedies, such as oral contraceptives. Only one drug has been approved specifically for the treatment of mastalgia. Called danazol (Danocrine), it's a form of the male hormone testosterone. Overall, 59 to 92 percent of women treated with this drug find relief from their pain, but they also experience significant side effects, so I only recommend this as a last resort. Finally, I urge you not to worry. I'm sure between you and your health care professional, you will find out the cause of your breast and lymph node pain, and come up with a treatment that works for you.
If you're a female of menstruating age and you don't know what pre-period breast pain feels like, then go and buy a lottery ticket immediately. You're obviously a) extremely lucky and b) a member of the minority. For the rest of us, that pulsating, tender, heavy feeling is all too familiar, and it's the pits. So why exactly do your normally friendly boobs turn into your worst enemies at a certain time of the month? And is there anything you can do to get some relief? As with pretty much everything to do with your period, breast pain all comes down to hormones, Dr Judith Reddrop of told The Huffington Post Australia. "It's all due to hormonal fluxes in the menstrual cycle," Reddrop said. "Estrogen reaches a peak around the middle of your cycle, and progesterone reaches its peak the following week. "As it turns out, both are at very high levels during the second half of your cycle. It's like a hormone party in your breasts. "On top of that, breasts are particularly affected because they have estrogen and progesterone receptors, so they are especially picked on in that way. " If you're wondering exactly how progesterone and estrogen affect your boobs (as if you didn't know already), they can make them swell, become congested, feel tender and, for some women, cause lumpiness. "It's not comfortable but there's a good biological reason for that happening, and it shows your hormones are working particularly efficiently," Reddrop said. In terms of actions you can take to minimise discomfort, Reddrop says there are plenty of things you can do (aside from clutching a hot water bottle to your chest and eating Ben and Jerry's out of the tub, though that's good too). "There are lots of lifestyle things you can do which really help. Obvious things, like having a well fitting bra or, if you're exercising, a good sports bra, are very important. "What a lot of people don't know is exercising the week before your period actually seems to help.
Also, avoiding caffeine, as it tends to aggravate the symptoms. "If there's too much salt in your diet, this can lead to fluid retention which only makes the congestion feel worse. " In terms of remedies, Reddrop recommends vitamins B1 and B6 (50 - 100 mg per day) as well as evening primrose oil, which she suggests particularly bad PMS sufferers take throughout the entirety of the cycle. "Vitamins B1 and B6 are involved in the hormonal pathways that manufacture your sex hormones, so they are known to help," Reddrop told HuffPost Australia. "Evening primrose oil works best if you take it continuously (recommended dosage: 1000 - 2000 mg per day) which might seem like a bother, but some people who get real problems might be motivated to do that. "When you're actually sore, Panadol or Nurofen or other anti-inflammatory medications can prove useful. "Or, if your symptoms are particularly bad, you might want to consult a medical practitioner about the possibility of going on the contraceptive pill, which obviously stops ovulation and helps to give you stable and continuous hormones. "That is quite a drastic measure but in some cases, ladies really need that additional help. " As a final point, Reddrop states breast lumpiness prior to your period is generally nothing to be worried about, but if you're concerned, it's best to check your breasts after your period has ended. "The thing with sore breasts is, once the period starts, you'll find there is quite swift relief of the soreness and congestion," Reddrop said. "The best time to check your breasts [for lumps] is after the period has finished, when the breasts are at their quietest. "I wouldn't recommend conducting a breast check in the pre-menstrual time, because the breasts are having that hormone party they can feel quite lumpy. Donвt be alarmed. Just wait til the period is gone and check them then. "Of course anything unusual, such as bleeding from nipple or discharge, any changes like that will mean you need to see your doctor as soon as possible. "
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