Sore Breasts Menopause: Why It Happens and What Can You Do About It.
Menopause can be a challenging phase. It can affect different parts of the body, including your breasts.
During perimenopause—the transition years before your menstrual cycle completely stops—your breasts may change in shape and size. Most women also experience unpredictable tenderness and pain—accompanied by a “lumpy” feeling.
It’s crucial to what’s normal and what’s not for a smooth transition. At the same time, find out the treatment options because these symptoms can persist during menopause and beyond.
Kinds of Breast Pain
Breast pain, also called “mastalgia”, may be cyclical or non-cyclical.
Cyclical breast pain: This kind of pain is linked to the menstrual cycle. It appears to be one of the effects of estrogen and progesterone fluctuations at certain times of the month. Although research cannot pinpoint the exact cause of cyclic breast pain, it is established that estrogen and progesterone directly affect the breast.
These hormones stimulate the ducts and milk glands, increasing the breast size. Logically, you’ll feel pain as your breast grows bigger.
Your breast may feel tender and lumpy a few days before your menstruation. Sometimes, the pain runs around the breasts and to the armpit and arms. The discomfort wanes as menstruation comes to an end.
Cyclical pain may become more intense during perimenopause when hormones erratically rise and fall. It may improve as the transition pause ends, especially if you undergo hormone therapy.
Non-cyclical breast pain: This kind of breast pain is not connected to menstruation. Therefore, it doesn’t demonstrate a predictable pattern. It may be persistent or intermittent and affect both breasts or just one. Sometimes, the pain is at specific points only.
Usually, non-cyclical pain is a symptom of a health problem, such as trauma, cyst, or a tumour. Some conditions that affect the neck, esophagus, chest, and upper back cause pain that may reflect on your breasts.
Some studies suggest that fatty acid imbalance within cells may trigger breast pain. Perhaps, this imbalance makes the breast tissues sensitive to hormonal fluctuations.
Women may also develop fibrocystic breasts or having more cysts than normal. In this condition, the breasts feel lumpy. Although it is common and not dangerous, the changes can cause discomfort.
What Happens to Your Breasts During Menopause
Hormonal fluctuations during menopause can affect your breasts in three ways:
What’s the cause? Estrogen and progesterone stimulate the ducts in your breast. That’s why fluid usually builds in this area before your menstruation. As a result, one or both breasts can feel sore or swollen during specific times of the month.
The menstrual cycle becomes irregular during perimenopause and menopause, making it more difficult to predict when your breast will feel sore.
What can you do? Wearing a well-fitted bra can make a huge difference. Choose a bra that can support your breasts without putting much pressure on them. Many women also find relief with over-the-counter topical, pain relievers.
If the pain is persistent or severe, tell your doctor about it.
2. Changes in Breast Size and Shape
What’s the cause? Estrogen production dramatically declines as you approach menopause. As a result, the glands and ducts in your breasts begin to shrink. That’s why they become fatty and saggy. The sizes of your breasts will continue to change as you lose more tissues.
What can you do? There are lingerie styles that can help your breasts look fuller, such as push-up bras. Make sure the bra provides maximum support and keeps you comfortable.
You may need a bigger-sized bra after menopause. According to a study, 20% of women need to switch to a bigger bra size after menopause. Regular exercise, specifically hand-held weights, may help. Although lifting weights doesn’t directly reverse the sagginess, it can develop and tone the muscles around the chest area.
More importantly, being physically active can reduce your risk of breast cancer and other diseases.
3. Make Them Feel Lumpy
What’s the cause? Hormonal changes and ageing can make your breasts feel lumpy. However, it’s still advised to see a doctor to ensure that these are normal lumps—no matter your age.
Depending on the initial evaluation, the doctor may ask you to get a breast MRI or undergo tissue sampling. Cysts or fluid-filled sacs are also common during menopausal age. Fortunately, they’re not life-threatening. The cysts go away during post-menopause but can stick around if you’re on hormone replacement therapy.
Fibrocystic changes can also make your breasts feel lumpy and rubbery, but they’re also not cancerous.
Some psychiatric medications, e.g. anti-depressants
Infection of the breast (mastitis) can cause fluid build-up. It can happen to men and women, although it’s more common among lactating (breastfeeding) women. The soreness is usually accompanied by redness, pain, swelling, and fever.
Trauma or Injury
Pain caused by trauma may last for weeks, especially if there is clotting or inflammation. Removal of tissue sample for laboratory examination (breast biopsy) can also leave your breasts sore.
Although soreness or pain is not a common symptom of breast cancer, it’s better to rule out all possibilities.
Wrong Bra Size
Your breast can feel sore if the bra is too tight or too loose.
Supplements to Diminish Breast Soreness During Menopause
It’s not advisable to take pain relievers frequently, even the ones you can get without a prescription. Instead, you may consider supplements to address the sore breasts menopause brings. Look for these ingredients in the best 6 menopause supplements:
Phytoestrogens are plant compounds that mimic the action of estrogen. When you consume these compounds, you top up the diminishing levels of this hormone. The most common phytoestrogens included in menopause supplements are black cohosh and soy.
For thousands of years, chamomile has been used to relieve pain and inflammation. It’s also used in herbal infusions that promise a calming effect. However, you may have to avoid this ingredient if you take an anti-coagulant (drugs that prevent blood clotting).
It’s oil extract has anti-inflammatory properties. That’s why Calendula ointments treat minor skin irritation, cuts, and burns. You may also apply the ointment to your breasts.