What Causes Breast Changes From Menopause
A natural process of aging in menopausal women is our breasts come to grips with the realities of gravity, losing their previous firmness and full shape.
But these changes can involve pain in your breasts, maybe a dull ache, heaviness, tightness, or a burning sensation. Breast pain may be linked to a menstrual cycle, and it is usually not a symptom of cancer. The hormonal changes in a womans body post-menopause cause the skin to lose moisture and elasticity. This has a stretching, sagging effect on the breasts. Many, but not all, older women should expect to change a cup size due to the breast size changes.
Effects of hormone levels on the breasts may include increased pain and lumpiness, which understandably can be worrisome if youre looking for signs of breast cancer. A lump that gets smaller over time is unlikely to be cancer. A lump that remains the same size or gets bigger should be evaluated because of a risk of breast cancer.
Benign Cysts In The Breast
Breast cysts are most common in women in their 40s but they can happen at any age, including after menopause. Cysts begin as microscopic but can eventually grow to be 1-2 inches and possible to feel by touch.
Only in rare cases will a solid type of cyst be potentially cancerous. Having breast cysts won’t increase your risk of developing breast cancer later on.
- Cysts are fluid-filled sacs which can develop in any part in the body.
- Breast cysts are most common in women in their 40s but they can happen at any age, including after menopause.
Is It Normal To Have Sore Breasts During Menopause
So, is it normal to get breast pain in the menopause? Yes, it is. It’s one of those very, very common symptoms and those of you that have read my 10 top symptoms of 2018 blog, will know breast pain was certainly one of them.
It does tend to be more common in the peri-menopause when your hormones are fluctuating a lot more. But some people do find that it starts in the menopause and occasionally, it can start after the menopause has completely finished. However, sometimes there can be other issues that you need to be aware of.
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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.
Breast Sagging & Shrinking
The first one is the one that we all hate, the one that we all do not want to have to face, and that is the fact that our breast size and shape can change. Our breasts can start to sag. They lose their pertness and, also, they can shrink. So, a lot of women find that their breast size decreases as they go through the menopause.
And, especially for women who are small breasted anyway, this can have quite a big dent on their confidence and also, for many of us, our breasts are a big part of our femininity. When they start to change and we feel they don’t look as good as they did, then that can have a big impact on our self-worth, how sexy we feel, and that also links to our relationships with our partners as well.
Again, with this one, it’s all to do with low oestrogen. This can affect the connective tissue which is basically the strengthening compounds that are in cells that help to keep everything strong and firm. So, if these decrease, then just because of the natural shape of the breasts, they will start to fall downwards. They’re affected by gravity.
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What Causes Breast Tenderness In Menopause
Breast tenderness in menopause normally begins during the perimenopause stage. Perimenopause usually starts 8 to 10 years before the menopause stage, and at this time you may experience erratic periods.
Perimenopause is an unpredictable time. Your hormones are confused and they go up and down as they please. In perimenopause, estrogen is produced by your ovaries and adrenal glands at normal rates. It may also gradually decline but not as much as progesterone, which is why, you still have periods at this time.
Progesteroneis the first hormone that goes down first. This scenario may cause an imbalance in your estrogen to progesterone ratio, leading to a condition called estrogen dominance. As the name implies, estrogen tends to dominate more because theres less progesterone in the body.
Estrogen loves water, making your body absorbs more fluids. As a result, you become bloated, including your breasts. Estrogen also stimulates breast cells to grow. Excess fluids plus breast enlargement compress your nerves and puts on more weight, causing breast tenderness in menopause.
Chronic stressduring menopause can indirectly contribute to breast pain. Aside from muscle tension caused by high levels of cortisol, stress can further suppress progesterone . How does this exactly happen?
Breast Pain Is A Common Sign That Can Develop During Menopause
While breast discomfort during menopause is not usually cause for alarm, it is always a good idea to double check.
Though breast pain is rarely a sign of cancer, speaking with a health professional and ruling out breast cancer can be a great help to put you at ease and to discuss how to manage this sign of menopause.
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Infection Of The Breast
Mastitis most commonly affects women who are breastfeeding but it can happen at other points in life.
** If the skin on breast or nipple becomes chaffed or irritated, it can allow bacteria to enter the breast and spread infection.
Mastitis symptoms include redness, swelling, tenderness and possibly fever. This condition is typically treated with normal antibiotics.
- A breast infection, also called mastitis, can a cause severe pain, according to Harvard Medical School 1.
- Mastitis most commonly affects women who are breastfeeding but it can happen at other points in life.
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
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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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Sore Breasts And Menopause: Everything You Need To Know
Lots of women experience this menopause symptom, we asked a GP why
Menopause and perimenopause symptoms differ from woman to woman, but there are some that are more common than others.
Lots of us know about hot flushes and brain fog. When it comes to sore breasts and menopause though, we’re less clued up and often end up Googling in search of more information.
So, we asked Dr Cat Hyatt, a GP based in Dorset, to explain the facts around breast pain and menopause.
What Causes Sore Breasts In Perimenopause
The causes of breast pain can be either cyclical or non-cyclical. Cyclicalcauses of breast pain are linked to your menstrual cycle. Indeed, there are certain developmental periods in a womans life that can cause breast soreness:
You may notice that as you near your period, your breasts tend to swell. This is due to an increase in the size of milk lobules and ducts, as well as water retention. Prior to menstruation estrogen and progesterone signal your breasts to swell in order to prepare for pregnancy and breastfeeding. The resultant swelling causes pain and tenderness, and you may even find lumps in your breasts that go away when you start your period.
Managing Sore Breasts After Menopause
Women with breast pain after menopause, or any other time for that matter, may have concerns about breast cancer. However, studies show that breast cancer is not commonly diagnosed in women who seek medical care for breast pain. Nonetheless, if you are concerned about cancer, have your doctor perform a complete breast exam.
If you have a sore breast after menopause or in perimenopause, it may be helpful to keep a journal to track your breast symptoms. To monitor changes in your breasts, conduct a self-exam by feeling and looking at your breasts. Some women find they develop a swollen sore breast in perimenopause. If the swelling does not go away, or you notice any other concerning changes in your breasts, consult your doctor.
Disclaimer: This is not medical advice, does not take the place of medical advice from your physician, and is not intended to treat or cure any disease. Patients should see a qualified medical provider for assessment and treatment.
Treating Cramps After Menopause
Treatment for postmenopausal cramps will vary depending on the underlying cause. Some possible treatment options may include:
Fibroids: If you do have pain caused by fibroids, painkillers will;usually be recommended first.
There are medications;available to help shrink fibroids. If these prove ineffective, surgery, such as a myomectomy or hysterectomy, may be recommended.
Endometriosis: There’s no cure for;endometriosis and it can be difficult to treat. Treatment;aims to;ease symptoms so the condition does not interfere with your daily life.
- Medication: Pain medication may be prescribed to ease discomfort.
- Surgery: Surgery is usually reserved for severe symptoms when hormones are not providing relief. During the operation, the surgeon can locate the sites of your endometriosis and may remove the endometrial patches.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Treatment for IBS can include changes to;diet and lifestyle,;mind/body therapies , and;medications. Often, a combination of treatments will provide the most relief. There is still much that is not understood about IBS, so it may take some experimentation with different therapies to achieve positive results.
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General Recommendations For Ht
Current guidelines support the use of HT for the treatment of severe hot flashes that do not respond to non-hormonal therapies. General recommendations include:
- HT may be started in women who have recently entered menopause.
- HT should not be used in women who have started menopause many years ago.
- Women should not take HT if they have risks for stroke, heart disease, blood clots, and breast cancer.
- Currently, there is no consensus on how long HT should be used or at what age it should be discontinued. Treatment should be individualized for a woman’s specific health profile.
- HT should be used only for menopause symptom management, not for chronic disease prevention.
Before starting HT, your doctor should give you a comprehensive physical exam and take your medical history to evaluate your risks for:
- Heart disease
- Breast cancer
While taking HT, you should have regular mammograms and pelvic exams and Pap smears. Current guidelines recommend that if HT is needed, it should be initiated around the time of menopause. Studies indicate that the risk of serious side effects is lower for women who use HT while in their 50s. Women who start HT past the age of 60 appear to have a higher risk for side effects such as heart attack, stroke, blood clots, or breast cancer. HT should be used with care in this age group.
Women who should not take hormone therapy include those with the following conditions:
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.
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When To Speak To Your Doctor
When do you see your doctor with this one? We need to be very careful with our breasts and look after them really well in the peri-menopause, the menopause, and beyond. So any situation that is worrying you about your breasts, please see your doctor.
If you find that you’ve tried these self-help remedies and nothing is working then just double-check with your doctor, especially if you find that you’re getting some lumps and bumps!; Most of us do; I had a few lumps, and the consultant very kindly said, “Youve just got lumpy breasts.” So very often, there’s nothing here to worry about, but please get this checked out as soon as you can and especially if you’re getting any nipple discharge as well or your nipples are very, very uncomfortable.
There’s lots of websites around on how to check your breasts on a regular basis. And I would recommend that all of you out there follow one of those as well, just to keep an eye on your breasts going through the menopause.
I hope you’ve found this helpful. It’s a big subject, and a lot of women find that they get this particular problem, sometimes on and off. Very rarely will you get it for the whole of the menopause, but it is something that most women will certainly experience at some point.;
I will see you next week on another edition of A.Vogel Talks Menopause.
What Does Breast Pain During Menopause Feel Like
What does it feel like? It does tend to be different according to sources. Your monthly period breast pain tends to be more of a kind of dull ache or a sort of heaviness. In the peri-menopause and menopause breast aches can be a bit sorer; it can be a bit of a sharper pain, it could be a stabbing pain as well.
And very often, there’s not necessarily a rhyme or reason to it. You may get them at any particular time of the month rather than just before you’ve got a period due. With this particular breast pain, it can just affect one breast.
You don’t necessarily have to get pain in the same place in both breasts, so that’s another little indication of peri-menopausal and menopausal breast pain.
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All Women Need To Check Their Breasts Regularly
Because your breasts are likely to become lumpier anyway it can make things a little harder to judge. But if you check your breasts and armpits regularly you get to know how they normally look and feel. Which means that you will spot anything out of the ordinary sooner rather than later.
This can save your life.
Changes to look out for include:
- Unusual Lumps
- Increase in size
- Change in appearance such as puckering of the skin
A lump is not necessarily cancer and more often than not it isnt. Its important though to get any lumps or changes you find checked by your doctor as soon as possible. If you find any of the things I have listed above, or anything that is unusual for you and is causing you concern make an appointment with your doctor.