Estrogens And Breast Health
The hormone that is fundamental to the female of the species is actually a family of three: estradiol, the most active form of estrogen estrone, the inactive storage form of estrogen and estriol, the weaker of the estrogens.
Estrogen has been labeled the angel of life, because it makes cells grow, developing the uterus, breasts, periods, pregnancy and the egg within the ovaryand the angel of death, because in excess it becomes toxic to the body. As they say, too much of a good thing can be dangerous, and too much of an estrogen that causes cells to multiply out of control is a recipe for breast cancer. Determining symptoms of estrogen dominance is a smart move since an imbalance of high estrogen to low progesterone that goes undetected for too long is not a risk worth taking.
Home Remedies To Alleviate Symptoms
Self care is extremely important when it comes to breast pain and tenderness. If you dont seek out the care that you need, the painful symptoms can quite literally ruin your day.
To prevent horrible breast changes, or at the least alleviate some of the pain, try implementing some suggestions that Ive come across over the past several years.
Dont smoke cigarettes, and if you do, quit as soon as you can. Not smoking will promote good skin and good tissue health.
Fluid naturally builds up in the breasts during perimenopause and menopause. Once the period completely stops, the breast pain should subside.
Some women have a tendency to ask the question, Can HRT cause sore nipples? The answer to that is yes if youre going through hormone replacement therapy, additional unwanted signs and symptoms may arise.
Talk to your doctor about options other than hormone therapy if your breasts start to become more of a problem than the menopause itself.
Additionally, suggestions that helped me were to limit my salt intake and drink more water on the daily. Think about it this way: dehydration leads to fluid retention, which can potentially worsen breast pain.
Why Do Breasts Enlarge After Menopause
Perimenopause and menopause breasts are different than any other breasts.
Just like during pregnancy, perimenopause breast growth and menopause breast growth stages do change size and shape. Symptoms such as tenderness, soreness, and minor aches and pains in the breast tissue may start to occur.
So, if youre asking yourself is it normal to have breast pain after menopause, the answer is yes.
Ultimately, we want to know and be aware of the changes that our breasts can go through during these times, so that we can also prepare ourselves for what our breasts will look like after menopause.
Questions that commonly pop into our minds may include, why are my breasts getting larger or swelling? Will the size change again once menopause is complete? And so on and so forth.
Some of the most common breast changes may cause us to worry and hinder a sense of panic, but just keep in mind, that most of these occurrences are very normal for menopausal women.
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What Happens To The Breasts During Pregnancy And Milk Production
Many healthcare providers believe the breasts are not fully mature until a woman has given birth and made milk. Breast changes are one of the earliest signs of pregnancy. This is a result of the hormone progesterone. In addition, the dark areas of skin around the nipples begin to swell. This is followed by the rapid swelling of the breasts themselves. Most pregnant women feel soreness down the sides of the breasts, and nipple tingling or soreness. This is because of the growth of the milk duct system and the formation of many more lobules.
Other physical changes happen as well. These include the blood vessels in the breast becoming more visible and the areola getting larger and darker. All of these changes are in preparation for breastfeeding the baby after birth.
What Causes Breast Tenderness With Dr Suzanne Mcmurry
As far as breast soreness in menopause, there are some factors that can definitely influence this. First, if the women is on bioidentical hormones, or just hormones in general, the dosage may be too high. She should have her hormone levels tested, through blood work, by her gynecologist or primary care doctor.
Second is diet related. This relates to either food sensitivities, specific to Immunoglobulin-G related food allergies. These allergies trigger the immune system, increasing inflammation and resulting in symptoms related to breast tenderness, joint aches, digestive upset, headaches and migraines, just to name a few. Caffeine consumption also has a strong, direct correlation with breast tenderness. If youre drinking more then 1 cup of coffee daily, substitute the rest with decaf or better yet, herbal teas and water, and do this for a week. Does this improve your pain?
Third relates to excess fatty tissue. In menopause, your ovaries are no longer producing estrogen. The main driver in estrogen production at this stage is your fat tissue. Some women store most of their fat in their breasts, others in various other places . This excess fat can give you symptoms related to what you may have experienced during or around your menstrual cycle. Exercise, Epsom salt baths, sauna treatments, all are great ways to eliminate the estrogens released from your fat tissue. These treatments also help to detoxify your body, enabling efficient and effective elimination of hormones.
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Breast Enlargement / Swelling
The second thing that can happen for some women, is that it goes the other way and their breasts start to get bigger and bigger. For some women, this is absolutely great. You know, they think, “At last, I’m getting the breasts that I’ve always wanted.” For other women, obviously, they can end up getting too big.
It will completely change your shape. You can end up getting a lot of discomfort. We tend to get a lot of anyway, especially those of us that are working in offices or working at desks. And, if your breast tissue enlarges too much, that can put extra stress onto the back muscles too, and it can cause a huge amount of distress.
Again, this is going to affect the way we see ourselves and also how we feel about ourselves as well.
Stages Of Breast Development
Breasts develop in stages of a womans life the time prior to birth, puberty, childbearing years, and menopause. There will also be changes in breast development within these stages during menstruation as well as during pregnancies.
Birth stage: Breast development begins while a female baby is still a fetus. By the time shes born, she will have already started forming nipples and milk ducts.
Puberty stage: Normal puberty in girls can start as early as 8 years old and as late as 13 years old. When your ovaries start creating estrogen, this results in your breast tissues gaining fat. This additional fat causes your breasts to begin to grown larger. This is also when the milk ducts grow. Once you start ovulating and having a menstrual cycle, the milk ducts will form glands. These are called secretory glands.
Menopause stage: Usually women begin to reach menopause around age 50, but it can start earlier for some. During menopause, your body wont produce as much estrogen, and that will affect your breasts. They wont be as elastic and may decrease in size, which can cause sagging. However, if youre being treated with hormone therapy, you may experience the same symptoms you had during menstrual cycles.
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What Cyclical Changes Happen To The Breasts During The Menstrual Cycle
Each month, women go through changes in the hormones that make up the normal menstrual cycle. The hormone estrogen is produced by the ovaries in the first half of the menstrual cycle. It stimulates the growth of milk ducts in the breasts. The increasing level of estrogen leads to ovulation halfway through the cycle. Next, the hormone progesterone takes over in the second half of the cycle. It stimulates the formation of the milk glands. These hormones are believed to be responsible for the cyclical changes that many women feel in their breasts just before menstruation. These include swelling, pain, and soreness.
During menstruation, many women also have changes in breast texture. Their breasts may feel very lumpy. This is because the glands in the breast are enlarging to get ready for a possible pregnancy. If pregnancy does not happen, the breasts go back to normal size. Once menstruation starts, the cycle begins again.
Tenderness Or Pain In The Breasts
A woman currently on her period can experience fluid build up in the breasts. This build up can also happen just before a period takes effect. The result is that the breasts can become swollen, tender, and sometimes even painful.
As time goes on, women age and start to go through perimenopause . The hormonal changes that accompany perimenopause are always different, and can always affect the breasts differently.
In turn, this can mean that the swelling, tenderness, and pain can still stick around during and after perimenopause. In fact, sometimes random spells of swelling, tenderness, and pain may start to kick in due to lack of a period and an increase in hormonal imbalances.
The best suggestion to keep handy would be to wear a fitted sports bra when such symptoms start to occur. Keep one on you, in your purse or in your car, just in case the tenderness or pain becomes close to unbearable.
It may also help to massage the breasts when they start to exhibit such signs and symptoms. Dont go too rough, though. Small, steady circles will ease the discomfort youre feeling the best.
And as always, pair these two suggestions with over-the-counter pain medications and pain creams to maximize your self care.
Dont forget, sore breasts after menopause is not entirely uncommon.
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Does A Lump In My Breast Mean I Have Breast Cancer
While performing breast self-examinations to look for lumps in your breast can help in early cancer detection, lumps dont necessarily mean you have cancer. The main reason self-exams are important is that they help you learn what is normal for you. For many women, having some lumps is normal.
With regular examination, you may notice that your lumps come and go, usually with your menstrual cycle. Although most lumps arent a cause for concern, whenever you find a lump for the first time you should let your doctor know. Some lumps will need to be drained or possibly even removed if they become uncomfortable.
Other changes in your body may signal that your breasts are, or are about to, start growing. Some signs include:
- the appearance of small, firm lumps under your nipples
- itchiness around your nipples and chest area
- tender or soreness in your breasts
Breast Changes During Menopause
By the time a person with a uterus and ovaries reaches their late 40s to early 50s, perimenopause has likely started. Perimenopause is the transitional phase leading up to menopause, the time when monthly periods have stopped for 12 months. During perimenopause, a person often starts noticing some changes in their breasts.
During perimenopause, breast changes often occur cyclically due to fluctuating hormonal levels. These breast symptoms start when the monthly cycle begins and then subside a few days later. When menopause occurs, hormonal levels continue to decrease, causing more changes in the breasts. These changes include:
- A lower density of breast tissue
- Increased fat tissue in the breasts
- Shrinking and sagging breasts
- Breast or nipple itching
Abscesses Or Inflammation In The Breast
Inflammation or an abscess in the breast can sometimes affect women who are breastfeeding and this can cause the breasts to swell even more and become tender.
Dr. Hayley Willacy on Patient.info says that the inflammation can occur when milk accumulates in the milk ducts and causes the breasts to become larger. If bacteria start to grow in the accumulated milk this can cause an infection to develop and this cause pain and tenderness in the affected breast.7 If left untreated, the inflammation can develop into an abscess.
If you experience pain and tenderness in your breasts while breastfeeding, its important to speak with your healthcare practitioner who can carry out an examination and check your milk for the presence of bacteria.
They Pack More Lumps And Bumps
Again, blame your hormones. “Fibrocystic changes are common in your 40s,” says Dr. Gupta. You might notice that your breasts feel lumpier, which is generally nothing to worry about as long as the changes are similar in both breasts. It’s also normal for your breasts to feel progressively bumpier as your period approaches. When in doubtor if you suddenly find a lump that wasn’t there last month or that doesn’t diminish after your period startsask your doc to check it out.
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What Are The Symptoms
Breast soreness related to perimenopause will likely feel different from the soreness you may have felt at other times in your life. Menstrual breast pain usually feels like a dull ache in both breasts. It often occurs right before your period.
Breast pain during perimenopause is more likely to feel like burning or soreness. You may feel it in one breast or both breasts. Not all women experience breast discomfort in the same way. The pain may feel sharp, stabbing, or throbbing.
The same hormones that cause overall breast soreness during perimenopause may also lead to tender or sensitive areas within your breasts. Other signs that youre in perimenopause include:
- hot flashes
- loss of interest in sex, or less pleasure from sex
- trouble sleeping
- mood changes
If you dont think your breast soreness is due to perimenopause, consider a visit to your doctor. You should also consult your doctor if you have additional symptoms, such as:
- clear, yellow, bloody, or pus-like discharge from the nipple
- increase in breast size
- changes in the appearance of the breast
- chest pain
These symptoms could be a sign of a more serious condition. For example, chest pain could be a sign of a heart condition. Your doctor can help determine if your breast soreness is hormonal or if another condition might be causing your symptoms.
Should You See A Doctor
Changes to the size and shape of your breasts cannot technically be fixed through a doctor unless you undergo surgical procedures.
Tenderness and pain in the breast tissue can be handled with over-the-counter medications and other at-home care remedies. At least that is, most of the time.
Some of the following instances are when to worry about breast pain.
If you start to experience lumps in the breasts, seeing a doctor is a good idea. You dont know if those lumps are cysts or something much worse, so getting answers early on will only benefit you in the long run.
Other scenarios where you should book an appointment with your doctor may include lumpy, firm, or thick areas. Where are most of these breast cancer lumps found? In the breast tissue or underneath the arm.
If you experience nipple discharge, or a sunken nipple, medical supervision is recommended.
Shrinking or swelling of breast on only one side should be medically checked out, too. If the problem of one breast larger after menopause starts to occur, lumps may be starting to form.
Be aware that reduced estrogen levels may also cause skin and connective tissue to become dehydrated, inadvertently losing elasticity.
Other than that, common breast changes that occur in almost all of us will include stretch marks, downward pointing nipples, wider space between the breasts, and minor lumpiness.
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When To See A Doctor
Its important that all women check the health of their breasts and are aware of any changes that they notice. This can help you identify any lumps or changes in your breast which could be a sign of a more serious condition like breast cancer.
Specialist in breast cancer, Dr. Debra G. Wechter advises all women to perform a breast self-exam once a month about 3-5 days after the start of their period.9
There are some other reasons to visit your doctor for a checkup if changes in your breast size are causing you concern. For example, if you notice that one breast is growing larger than the other one, or if you experience pain and tenderness in your breasts that wont go away, then a visit to your health practitioner will help to put your mind at rest.
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Vitamin D And Breast Cancer Prevention
Vitamin D is in fact, not a vitamin at all but a hormone that is synthesized through the action of sunlight upon precursors within the skin. Undiagnosed vitamin D deficiency is now considered to be epidemic among the elderly who stay indoors much of the time, and those living in northern climates where there is less sunshine per day and people tend to wear more clothing. Studies indicate that widespread vitamin D deficiencies are increasing risk for cancers of the colon, pancreas, prostate, ovaries and breast, and that people living at higher latitudes are more likely to die from these cancers, as compared with people living at lower latitudes. . People of darker skin, the obese, and younger children also tend towards a deficiency of vitamin D. Scientists say that vitamin Ds anti-cancer actions lie in its ability to stop the uncontrolled growth of cells and encourage their natural differentiation and death , before they can mutate and become cancerous. The action of vitamin D is also breast protective because it can inhibit the blood supply that feeds tumors in malignant breast tissue.
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