Menopause Breast Pain
Breast pain is one of the most common symptoms of menopause. From general aches to sharp, stabbing pains in the breasts, the hormonal fluctuations that occur during menopause can cause frequent discomfort for women. Most common during the premenopause and perimenopause years, breast pain can also include tender, highly sensitive and swollen breasts.
Definition of Breast Pain
Referred to in the medical community as "mastalgia," "mammalgia" or "mastodynia," menopause breast pain causes discomfort in one or both breasts due to fluctuating hormones. Most cases of menopause breast pain are classified as cyclic breast pain and include tenderness, pain, aching, sensitivity and tenderness in one or both breasts. Many women experience breasts that feel heavy or aching, as well. Some women experience sharp, random breast pains, often described as "stabbing" in nature.
Women may also experience swelling in the breasts, making them sensitive to movements such as walking, jumping or jostling. Due to this heightened breast sensitivity, some women experience less pleasure in their breasts as erotic zones, leading to a loss of libido in romantic relationships. Read more about menopause breast pain.Symptoms of Menopause Breast Pain
- Heaviness in the breast
- Aching breasts
- Sharp breast pains
- Swollen breasts
- Burning sensations
- Tender breasts
- Breast sensitivity
- Stabbing breast pain
- Loss of libido
- Tightness in the breasts
Causes of Menopause Breast Pain
During menopause, levels of vital hormones – such as estrogen and progesterone – begin to fluctuate and ultimately decline. During menopause, cyclic breast pain occurs due to hormone shifts – the same reason that breast pain tends to occur during other times of hormonal fluctuation earlier in life, such as menstruation or pregnancy.
As hormone levels rise and fall suddenly, women experience breast pain as a result. Each woman's response to hormone changes will be different, leaving some women encounter breast pain due to progesterone declines, while others experience breast pain due to excess or deficient estrogen.
Imbalances in fatty acids contained within cells may also occur during menopause, causing increased hormonal sensitivity in breast tissue, causing pain within the breast. Menopause breast pain can also occur due to psychological stress that occurs as a result of hormonally driven chemical imbalances, as well.
Though rare, some causes of breast pain may not be related to the menopause process itself. Injury to the breast or chest, breast surgery, certain medications, alcohol addiction, birth control pills and even hormone replacement therapy can cause breast pain to occur during menopause.
Women who are well-endowed may experience breast pain from the heft of breasts, and some women may experience breast pain related to mastitis – infections in the breast. In extremely rare cases, breast pain may also be due to breast cysts or breast cancer.
Menopause Breast Pain Treatments
Though hormone replacement therapy (also known as HRT) can provide hormonal balance to women during menopause, it also can elevate the risk of blood clots, strokes, cardiovascular disease and breast cancer in women. Additionally, hormone replacement therapy can cause breast pain, with up to 30 percent of women on HRT experiencing breast tenderness.
Women can also experience hormonal balance during menopause – without the risks of HRT – with Amberen. Amberen provides a safe way to encourage hormonal signals between the brain's hypothalamus and ovaries, allowing the body to simply reachieve its natural hormone levels. As hormones reach their optimal levels naturally, symptoms of menopause such as breast pains become alleviated.
Lymphatic massage, bras with adequate support, and ice may also bring temporary relief from menopause breast pain. Lifestyle changes such as increased exercise and a healthy diet can also help lower the incidence of breast pain in menopausal women. Read more about menopausal breast pain treatments.
Management of Menopause Symptoms:
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Menopause Breast Pain FAQ's
Q: Does breast pain during menopause indicate the presence of breast cancer?
A: Generally, symptoms of breast pain rarely signify breast cancer. However, talking to your physician about your breast pain may alleviate fears that can arise when pain in the breasts occurs. Doctors can perform a physical examination and routine mammogram in order to ensure breast cancer is not the cause of menopause breast pain.
Q: When should I seek medical attention for breast pain?
A: If you experience breast pain that is local to a specific area of a single breast, make an appointment with your physician. Additionally, if other symptoms occur, such as irritation or redness of breast skin, an accompanying fever, or nipple discharge, seek medical attention as an infection may be present. In general, any breast pain that grows worse, feels severe, or persists consistently over time warrants a visit to your doctor.
Q: What are other types of breast pain that are not related to menopause hormone changes?
A: Non-cyclic breast pain, most common in post-menopause, is generally confined to a single area of one breast. Extramammary breast pain can be responsible for aches and pains that feel like they originate in the breast, but actually are coming from the chest, ribcage or underarm region.
Q: What constitutes breast pain?
A: A common condition of waning sex hormones, breast pain is medically referred to by several terms, mastalgia, mammalgia, and mastodynia. These terms describe tenderness, swelling, and discomfort, tingling and burning inside and on the surface of the breasts. This pain varies in frequency and duration depending on each woman's individual hormone deficiency. Breast pain may not be restricted to the breast but may include surrounding tissue, as well.
Q: What is considered "normal" breast pain?
A: Most women report that pain related to breast tenderness affects approximately 70 percent of women throughout their lives with only 10 percent reporting severe or debilitating breast pain. As a common symptom during PMS, pregnancy, perimenopause and menopause, breast pain ranges from intermittent soreness, tenderness with movement, pain when bras or other materials touch the skin, burning, tingling, and swelling. The intensity and duration of breast pain can vary depending on the size of a woman's breasts and poor diet and stimulant use. Women's breast pain symptoms are as varied as the variety of women.
Q: Does breast pain lead to breast cancer?
A: Women with breast pain rarely develop breast cancer. Medical research reports indicate that approximately 2 to 7 percent of women who develop breast cancer, experience symptoms of breast pain. Women with concerns about breast cancer should receive regular mammograms. Routine, self-examinations can also help women to remain aware of changes and unusual symptoms of breast discomfort.
Q: Are there different types of breast pain?
A: There are three commonly reported and medically described types of breast discomfort. Cyclical breast pain occurs during hormonal fluctuations such as PMS, pregnancy, perimenopause and menopause. Non-cyclical breast pain occurs after menopause and can be related to hormone replacement therapy or underlying illness. The third type of breast pain is known as extra-mammary. The source of this breast pain exists outside of the breast. Cyclical breast pain is related to hormonal imbalances in menopause. Women between the ages of 40 through the 50's experience tenderness, soreness, and pain related to hormone imbalances.
Q: What are common symptoms of breast discomfort?
A: Cyclical types of breast pain include symptoms of dullness, aching, heaviness, swelling and sharp, burning pain. Women familiar with breast-feeding report a similar uncomfortable fullness in their breasts. Other women describe tenderness and aching in either both or one of their breasts. Non-cyclical types of breast pain include symptoms such as sharp pain and measurable swelling that is both intermittent and constant. The type of breast pain known as extra-mammary comes from the tissue and muscle outside of the breast with additional pain in the armpit, chest and neck.
Q: When should women consult a medical health professional?
A: Women experiencing breast pain during menopause, which is severe or debilitating, should consult a medical health professional. Pain that is constant, worsens, and interferes with daily tasks may need medical attention. Women experiencing discharge from their nipples, pain in one particular area of the breast and any indications of fever, redness, or infection should consult a physician.
Q: Why do breast hurt during menopause?
A: Estrogen and progesterone, sex hormones ebb and peak during the onset of menopause. The pituitary and endocrine glands reduce production of these hormones signaling the end of fertility. The hormones control many physical and emotion symptoms including inflammation, skin tenderness and a feeling of fullness or breast soreness.
Q: What are other causes of breast pain?
A: The most common cause of breast discomfort during menopause is fluctuating hormones. Conditions that contribute to or exacerbate breast pain include breast cysts, trauma, breast surgery, breast size, and mastitis. Lifestyle conditions such as stress, excess caffeine, and alcohol can also exacerbate breast discomfort. Certain medications such as birth control pills, antidepressant medicines, hormone replacement therapy, or HRT, as well as cholesterol, heart and high blood pressure medication can increase instances of breast soreness, and discomfort. Food allergies, nutritional deficiencies can cause inflammation and skin tenderness.
Q: Will breast pain stop after menopause?
A: Cyclic pain can occur months or years before the onset or cessation of menopause. Some women, however, experience pain in their breasts after menopause. This non-cyclical breast pain can be related to underlying medical conditions as well as hormone replacement therapy. Non-cyclical breast pain should be examined by a medical health professional for additional diagnosis and treatment.
Q: What are some ways to relieve breast pain?
A: Simple lifestyle changes and personal care can diminish and eliminate symptoms of breast pain. Lymph massage, increases in daily exercise, stress reduction techniques such as meditation, biofeedback, and visualization can reduce breast pain. Wearing supported bras with additional padding may reduce discomfort from tissue irritation. When experiencing pain, consider applying ice packs to the breasts. It can also be helpful to avoid foods and drinks that increase breast pain.
Q: What sorts of treatments are available for breast pain?
A: Alternative therapies can address the source of hormonal imbalances. Yoga, acupuncture, and lymph massage can nourish the pituitary and endocrine glands. Most women find that a combination of lifestyle alterations, and alternative therapies in some instances herbal supplements, diminish intermittent breast pain. Herbal supplements that do not contain plant estrogens can help the body to produce estrogen and progesterone, naturally.