What Causes This Change
The cramps you feel during perimenopause are related to your hormone levels. Prostaglandins are hormones released by glands lining your uterus. These hormones direct your uterus to contract during your period. The higher your prostaglandin levels, the worse your cramps will be.
You produce more prostaglandins when your estrogen level is high. Estrogen levels often rise during perimenopause.
If your cramps are intense enough to bother you or affect your daily life, there are a number of things you can do to get relief. Here are some suggestions you can try.
What Happens To Your Breasts During Menopause
As you get older, its natural for your breasts to change shape and size and become less firm. You might also find that you get sore or painful breasts, due to the hormonal changes that happen during the menopause .
Lets look at what causes breast pain during the menopause, when to see a doctor, and what treatments are available to help you feel more comfortable.
Breast Pain After Menopause Can Come In Many Forms
Menopause has come and gone. Why do I still have breast pain?
In most cases, breast pain is a by-product of reproductive life: Like breast swelling, it waxes and wanes during the menstrual cycle, and it’s one of the first symptoms of pregnancy. Many women expect breast pain to go away after menopause. When it doesn’t, they may fear they have breast cancer. Fortunately, breast pain is rarely a symptom of cancer, regardless of age. Still, that possibility should be considered, along with a number of noncancerous conditions that affect the breasts.
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Risk Factors For Breast Pain
Your breast soreness may be related to menopause, or it could be a symptom of another condition. Your risk of having breast soreness is higher if you take certain medicines.
Some drugs with mastalgia as a side effect include:
- Water pills : Increase urination and used to treat kidney disease, heart disease, and high blood pressure
- Hormone replacement therapies : Usually refers to a combination of the female hormones estrogen and/or progesterone
- Digitalis: Prescribed for heart failure
- Methyldopa: Used to treat high blood pressure
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors : Used to treat various mental health conditions
Other risk factors for breast pain include:
- Wearing a poorly fitting bra
- Gaining weight or having large breasts
You’ve Recently Had Breast Surgery
If youve recently had any kind of breast surgery, youre probably expecting pain, soreness, or tenderness in the days afteras well as itching.
After surgery, as part of the healing process, histamine is released and swelling of the breast occurs, says Lyda E. Rojas Carroll, MD, a general surgeon who specializes in breast surgery at CareMount Medical. That may stimulate nerve endings and cause itching.
To alleviate the itching caused by swelling, Dr. Carroll recommends wearing a surgical bra and applying ice.
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Breast Pain Before Your Period
Breast pain before your period may come with tenderness and swelling. This is a common symptom of premenstrual syndrome . In less common cases, extreme breast pain before your period along with tenderness and swelling may also indicate fibrocystic breast disease.
Most cases of sharp breast pain before your period are caused by fluctuating levels of hormones. The levels of hormones estrogen and progesterone change during your normal menstrual cycle. These hormones prepare your reproductive system and breasts for a potential pregnancy. Estrogen causes the breast ducts to enlarge. Progesterone causes the milk glands to swell. Your breasts may feel sore because of these changes.
Estrogen levels peak during the middle of your cycle, and progesterone levels rise during the week before your period.
The main signs and symptoms of breast pain before your period are heaviness and tenderness in both breasts. Some people experience dull aching in their breasts. The breast tissue may feel coarse or dense to the touch. Symptoms may appear a week before your period and disappear gradually after. Most people dont experience severe breast pain before their period.
Breast pain before your period may improve as you approach menopause because of the natural changes in hormone levels that occur as you age.
In some cases doctors suggest treating breast pain with over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These medicines may also help relieve menstrual cramps.
You’re Currently Using Narcotics
There are a lot of reasons why your doctor might prescribe an opioid pain relieversevere migraines, broken bones, surgery. But while the narcotic is working to ease your pain, it might also be causing you to itch.
If your bras don’t fit , you might end up with itching and chafing.
To combat the itch, take an oatmeal bath and keep your skin well-moisturized if your doctor approves it, you can also try taking an antihistamine, says Dr. Gore. Switching to a different medication, when possible, may also help.
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Diet Lifestyle And Home Remedies For Breast Pain
There are certain measures which can help relieve the worrying symptoms of breast pain. It is worth putting some effort into easing the symptom, as this will aid your morale, general health and comfort.
- Smoking can have an adverse effect on your body at the best of times, not least during the menopause. Smoking can prevent the body from adapting to the hormonal changes experienced during the menopause. It also increases the likelihood of breast cancer
- Diet is important. Food with plenty of vitamins keeps the body healthy, and vitamins B and E particularly can help ease breast pain. Making sure you have enough fibre in your diet will help your body balance out oestrogen levels
- Consuming stimulants such as caffeine can have an unwanted effect on breasts. This is because these dilate the blood vessels throughout the body, including those in the breasts, leading to swelling and pain
- Make sure that your bras fit correctly as an ill-fitting one can lead to pain or even breast tissue damage. It is important to get measured regularly as your breast size and shape can change quickly.
Inverted Or Retracted Nipples
Nipple variations are usually something you are born with. They include inverted nipples and retracted nipples.
Inverted nipples look sunken or indented. They can occur as part of the normal aging process. It usually happens on both sides.
But if your nipples used to stick out and have become flattened, especially if it’s just on one side, talk to your healthcare provider.
Retracted nipples have a slit-like area that is pulled inward. They may appear at birth or develop gradually over time.
A retracted nipple on one side or one that develops quickly should be checked out. In some cases, this can be a sign of breast cancer.
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General Symptoms Of Breast Pain During Menopause
Symptoms of breast pain will vary depending on the individual woman. Pain and discomfort may be constant or intermittent, and pain levels may vary day to day. Some general symptoms of breast pain include:
- Discomfort or pain in one or both breasts
- Breasts too tender to touch, leading to the inability to tolerate a bra or even light clothing due to discomfort
- Sharp, stabbing or throbbing pains
It is important to be aware that your breast soreness may not always be linked to perimenopause. Consult your doctor if any of these additional symptoms arise:
- Pus discharge from the nipple in a clear, yellow or bloody fluid
- Noticeable increase in breast size
- Fever or chest pain
The addition of these symptoms could be an indication that a more serious condition exists. Always consult a doctor to confirm if breast soreness is hormonal or caused by another condition.
When To Seek Care For Breast Tenderness
Any pain, particularly when it is ongoing or repeatedly returns, is a concern. When that pain is related to your breasts, it adds another layer of worry. Although cancer is reportedly not a common cause of breast pain, one study reports a higher frequency of past malignancy in participants with mastalgia.
As you reflect on past and present breast pain and tenderness, consider other factors, such as a recent bump and chest wall or upper back pain. Along with that, your recall of past and present breast tenderness and pain will guide discussion and decision-making with your healthcare provider.
When it comes to reducing breast cancer deaths, mammograms are not enough. In this Lisa Health Master Class, Dr. Lisa Larkin goes in-depth on how you can assess your breast cancer risk and steps to take to lower your risk.
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What About Conventional Medicine
If you are looking for a conventional treatment to help with your menopause symptom, then it may be worth talking to your doctor. A range of treatments is available, although not all will be appropriate for you.
If your condition is severe or affecting your lifestyle, your doctor may recommend that you consider the use of HRT. However, this is associated with risks and side effects which your doctor will discuss with you.
It is important to seek medical advice if you are concerned about your breast pain, particularly if your nipples are affected, showing a discharge or bleeding, or if you feel a lump in your breast.
Video: Breast Cancer Screening
This video explains what happens during a mammogram and the benefits of mamography and ultrasound.
It’s your choice whether to have breast screening, but bear in mind that most experts believe it’s beneficial in picking up breast cancer early.
If you’re 71 or over, you’ll stop receiving screening invitations through the post, but you can still carry on with screening if you want to.
Contact your local breast screening unit to arrange an appointment.
Read more about breast cancer screening.
You’re Allergic To That New Lotion You’re Using
This is called allergic contact dermatitis, which “occurs when someone becomes allergic to a chemical in contact with their skin, says Dr. Martin. the nipples, this would most often be metal in a piercing, an OTC medication, a skincare product being used on that skin, or more rarely, preservatives in clothing.
This kind of dermatitis leads to a pink or red rash thats dry and itchy. Dr. Martin says it may be localized or more widespread, and could even lead to blistering and crusting.
OTC hydrocortisone might help, but keep an eye on ityoull need to make an appointment with your doctor if it doesnt improve.
When To See Your Doctor
If your cramps are severe, life-disrupting, or persistent, see your doctor. You should also make an appointment if:
- You just started getting cramps for the first time in your life, or theyve become more severe.
- Youre experiencing other symptoms, like heavy bleeding, weight loss, or dizziness.
During the exam, your doctor will ask about your medical history and symptoms. Your doctor will also check your reproductive organs. You may get imaging tests, such as an ultrasound or CT scan, to find out if a problem with your ovaries is causing your cramps.
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How Is Nipple Discharge Diagnosed
Your healthcare provider will likely want to find out if the discharge is coming from 1 duct or several. Multiple duct discharge is nearly always benign. It is likely due to changes such as ectasia. Discharge coming from a single duct may be more significant. But if mammography shows no abnormality, surgery may not be needed.
Nipple discharge can be different colors and textures. Your healthcare provider may take a sample of the discharge and have it checked in a lab to confirm a diagnosis.
Hygiene Products Like Laundry Detergent
A wide range of consumer products like laundry detergent, soaps, shampoos, and lotions can all cause irritation to the skin. If nipple sensitivity or irritation is fairly recent and there dont seem to be any other causes, household products that make contact with skin almost every day could be to blame.
The chemicals in many skin care products can cause contact dermatitis. This appears as red, itchy patches on any part of the body thats been exposed. Any new product that preceded a skin reaction by a short time could be the culprit.
If contact dermatitis is the cause of nipple irritation, hypoallergenic, fragrance-free products should be gentler on the skin.
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Your Health Questions Answered
- Answered by: Healthily’s medical teamAnswered: 11/10/2021
Getting older and going through the menopause causes many physical changes, and this often includes a decrease in breast size. You might find that your breasts shrink by a cup size. However, they can also get bigger if you put on weight during the menopause, or if youre taking HRT, which can cause breast swelling.
I Am 52 Years Old And Have Not Had A Period For Three Months Now My Breasts Hurt So Bad I Can Hardly Sleep On Them They’re Sore And Tender All The Time In The Past They Have Been Sore Right Before My Period For A Couple Days But Never For This Long Do I Need To Worry About Anything Or Is This Probably Menopause Setting In
This article has been archived. We will no longer be updating it. For our most up-to-date information, please visit our menopause hub here.
I am 52 years old and have not had a period for three months. Now, my breasts hurt so bad I can hardly sleep on them. They’re sore and tender all the time. In the past, they have been sore right before my period for a couple days, but never for this long. Do I need to worry about anything, or is this probably menopause setting in?
You’re right to consider that menopause is setting in. Only it’s important to get the language right “menopause” per se is really only one day in a woman’s life: the day at which she reaches 12 consecutive months without a period. You’re currently in the perimenopausal stage, which may last anywhere from a few months to several years.
Changes in your menstrual cycle are a key marker of perimenopause. They often come more frequently than the typical 28 days, you may skip cycles, your menstrual flow may be lighter, heavier or spottier than normal. You may also find your period lasts longer – or for just a couple of days. In other words, all bets are off in terms of predicting the timing, duration and severity of your menstrual cycle once you reach perimenopause.
Having said that, it is quite likely that you are approaching the actual menopause. The average age of menopause in this country is 51.4 years, but normal menopause it can occur any time between age 40 and age 58.
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How Do You Combat Breast Soreness And Tenderness
In addition to Dr. McMurrys expert advice, some additional lifestyle adaptations could help you be more comfortable.
When To See A Doctor
Sore breasts can be uncomfortable, but should not usually be cause for concern.
Some people may worry about breast cancer though, particularly if cysts also develop around the same time. Most breast changes during perimenopause and menopause are normal. However, if someone has any of the following symptoms in addition to sore breasts, they should see a doctor:
- noticeable changes in the size and shape of breasts, particularly if they occur only on one side
- changes in skin texture
- unexplained discharge from the nipple
- a swelling or lump in the armpit or around the collarbone
- a lump or abnormally firm area on the breast
- persistent breast pain
Doctors recommend that women start to have mammograms between the ages of 40 and 45, or earlier if they have specific risk factors.
After that, they should have a mammogram every 1 to 2 years, regardless of whether or not they are experiencing any unusual symptoms.
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When To Check With Your Doctor
Most midlife breast changes are normal. But you canât be sure on your own. Talk to your doctor if you notice any of these problems:
- A lump or a firm or thick area in your breast or under your arm.
- Nipple discharge fluid or changes, such as a nipple that becomes sunken into the breast, also called “inverted.”
- Skin changes, such as redness, dimpling, puckering, or ridges that look like orange peel.
- Unexplained swelling or shrinkage of the breast, especially on one side only.
Most of the time, breast changes are not cancer, but itâs important to get any new or unusual symptom checked out quickly.
Also talk to your doctor about how often you should get mammograms, since guidelines vary. The American Cancer Society recommends one every year, starting when youâre 45. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends offering average-risk patients mammograms beginning at age 40. Other groups advise every 2 years when you turn 50 until youâre 74.
You may need to start sooner if youâre at high risk.
Your doctor can help you decide whatâs best for you.
How Does Cramping Change
Cramps are a monthly ritual for many women during their menstrual periods. Theyre a result of the uterus contracting to push out its lining.
Some women naturally have more painful cramps than others. Conditions like endometriosis, uterine fibroids, and pelvic inflammatory disease can also cause painful cramping during your reproductive years.
During perimenopause, these cramps may intensify. So can other period symptoms, like tender breasts and mood swings.