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Why Do Women’s Breasts Grow After Menopause

How Does Menopause Affect Your Breasts

Do women’s breasts keep changing?| Explains Dr. Nina Mansukhani

So, why on earth does the menopause affect breast tissue so much? Its one of the things that were really fighting against as we go through the menopause. Our breast tissue is very, very sensitive to oestrogen. It has a lot of oestrogen-receptor sites in it. So, when our , as we approach the menopause and go through the menopause, this can have quite a marked effect on the size, shape, and structure of our breasts.

Now, the most common breast symptom that tends to happen during the menopause is breast tenderness and discomfort. But, there are other breast issues that can happen so I thought I would go through those ones today.

Are Hrt And Breast Growth Linked

Estrogen replacement therapy is the most common type of HRT. These treatments help to balance hormone levels by providing the body with exogenous, or man-made, hormones and relieving symptoms of an imbalance.

Though one could assume that supplying lost estrogen in the body should stimulate menopause breast growth, it is not always the case.

Only some menopausal women report increases in their cup size while on HRT, and while breast enlargement is sometimes listed as a side effect on HRT – alongside breast tenderness, mood swings, or bloating -, whether these effects can be solely attributed to the regimen is unclear.3

In fact, some data studies have disproven the HRT breast growth link, suggesting that the use of HRT is only moderately, not significantly, associated with breast size increases in menopausal women.2

Why Are My Breasts Swollen

Breast swelling refers to the enlargement of one or both breasts, typically accompanied by soreness or pain. A sensation of soreness typically occurs during menstrual periods, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause. The main cause of swollen breasts and tenderness is hormone fluctuations. Estrogen and progesterone levels shift during menopause, pregnancy, and menstruation.

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Ruling Out Breast Cancer

To be confident that your breast change is not cancer or another disease, your doctor will consider:

  • your age and family history
  • the history of the breast change
  • the results of a physical examination and any ultrasounds, mammograms or other tests that are needed
  • whether you are still having periods or taking Hormone Replacement Therapy

Why Do Breasts Enlarge After Menopause

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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.

Contents

Read more about Menopause

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Treating And Managing Breast Changes

Many breast changes are a normal part of the aging process.

If youre significantly distressed by the changes in your breast tissue, you may want to consider cosmetic surgery. Cosmetic surgery can replace the fullness of the breasts as well as the position of the nipples.

If you want to treat stretch marks, theres no current definitive treatment. Some topical products may be useful in minimizing their appearance.

In some studies, the herb Centella asiatica and the prescription medication tretinoin were found to be effective in reducing the appearance of stretch marks. Laser treatments are available as well.

Discuss these options with your doctor to find out which is best for you.

Remember, these aging changes in your breasts are normal. You dont have to treat them if you dont want to. Instead, embrace them!

Why Do Womens Breasts Get Bigger With Age

Many women find that their breasts look smaller as they get older gravity and loss of skin elasticity are mostly to blame here, and theres also a genetic factor.

But, if youre finding the opposite, thats also completely normal.

The main reasons why womens breasts get bigger as they get older are:

  • Weight gain or weight redistribution
  • Fluctuating hormone levels due to menopause.

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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.

Do Your Breasts Get Bigger When You Go Through Menopause

How to ease breast pain during menopause

A recent study showed that menopause and breasts getting bigger frequently go hand-in-hand.

Almost 19% of women said that they needed a bigger bra after menopause. In contrast, only 1.7% said that they needed to size down.

Your breasts can start to change long before the official menopause and perimenopause breast growth is reasonably common.

As well as looking bigger, your breasts might feel more tender.

Another thing to note: Many women find that their breasts start to feel lumpier with age.

Its important to continue to do self-exams and to check in with your doctor if you find a new lump or if you notice any other symptoms.

These include: puckered skin, discharge from or inversion of your nipple, and drastic changes in how your breasts look compared to each other.

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Oestrogen And Fat Distribution At Menopause

A change in hormone levels, mainly oestrogen, may influence body fat distribution.

Many women in perimenopause and early post menopause years gain fat mass as their oestrogen levels drop. Women of childbearing age tend to store fat in the lower body , while men and postmenopausal women store fat around the abdomen .

Animal studies have shown that a lack of oestrogen leads to unwanted abdominal fat, although the exact mechanisms are not yet understood.

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.

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What Is Normal Breast Development

Breast development is a vital part of a womans reproduction. Breast development happens in certain stages during a woman’s life: first before birth, again at puberty, and later during the childbearing years. Changes also happen to the breasts during the menstrual cycle and when a woman reaches menopause.

Tenderness Or Pain In The Breasts

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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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Do Breasts Hurt When They Grow If So Why

Yes, breasts can hurt when they grow. Breasts grow in response to the hormones estrogen and progesterone. As you enter puberty, levels of these hormones increase. Your breasts begin to grow under the stimulation of these hormones. Hormone levels also change during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause. Hormones cause a change in the amount of fluid in your breasts. This may make your breasts feel more sensitive or painful.

Treatment Options And Challenges

While estrogen-related tumors, which are less aggressive and slower-growing, tend to be more common, more aggressive cancers are still a possibility after menopause. One survey of U.S. Medicare patients found that approximately 18 percent of elderly metastatic breast cancer patients had a cancer known as triple negative, which doesnt have estrogen and progesterone receptors.

In some cases, postsurgical treatments for these aggressive cancers, such as radiation and chemotherapy, may not even be considered. Some women who are over 70 may not offered extra therapy because of their age, says Pinkerton. If you have a small or slow-growing tumor, it might not affect your survival rate, and some women are simply too ill or frail to benefit from the extra treatment. On the other hand, an otherwise healthy and fit woman in her 70s who may live an additional 10 or 20 years who is diagnosed with breast cancer that could spread, may be able to tolerate an intensive treatment such as chemotherapy.

To be sure youre getting the best guidance possible, Pinkerton suggests adding a menopause specialist, who may be an ob-gyn or internist, to your team. Go to the North American Menopause Society website and type in your zip code to find a NAMS Certified Menopause Practitioner near you.

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Reasons For An Increase In Breast Size

Rest assured boob growth with age is normal. According to Victoria Karlinsky-Bellini, MD, FACS, a New York-based cosmetic surgeon, it is often the result of fluctuating hormones as you go through perimenopause and menopause. For many women, the drop in hormones can trigger weight gain, she explains. There is an accumulation of fat cells, and part of that accumulation happens in the breast.

As your hormones continue to rise, fall, and generally become as temperamental as you often feel, youll notice even more changes in your breasts, especially considering that gravity has already sort of taken its toll on the twins. Women who breast fed often find that the breast tissue shrinks, the skin gets stretched out with milk, and as the breast goes down, everything involutes, explains Andrew Cohen, MD, FACS, a California-based plastic and reconstructive surgeon. Whether or not you breastfed, you may notice a larger space between the breasts, or the area around the areola may get bigger or smaller, plus, the breast tissue itself becomes less elastic.

Home Remedies To Alleviate Symptoms

8 Reasons Your Breasts Hurt | Health

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.

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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.

Read these related articles:

Treating Breast Pain After Menopause

Treating postmenopausal breast pain depends upon a woman’s age, symptoms, and general health. Determining the underlying cause is imperative to treatment effectiveness.

Alongside breast pain treatments that focus on natural and effective lifestyle changes – optimized diet, wholesome habits, etc. – there are a couple more options women may pursue for relief:

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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.

Association of Reproductive Health Professionals: âPerimenopause: Changes, Treatment, Staying Healthy.â

National Cancer Institute: âUnderstanding Breast Changes.â

Kataria , K. Indian Journal of Surgery. June, 2014.

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center: âBreast Changes: Should I Be Concerned?â

Mayo Clinic: âBreast Cysts.â

American Cancer Society: âFibrosis and simple cysts.â

Natural Decline Of Estrogen

Breast Pain and Irregular Periods Management

One of the main causes of aging changes in the breasts is a natural decline of the female reproductive hormone estrogen. This reduced amount of estrogen causes the skin and connective tissue of the breast to become less hydrated, making it less elastic.

With less elasticity, the breasts lose firmness and fullness and can develop a stretched and looser appearance. Its not uncommon to change your cup size as you age.

Dense breast tissue is replaced by fatty tissue as the aging process continues.

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Growths In The Breast Tissue

The chances of developing growths in the breast, such as fibroids, cysts, and tumors, increases with age. In most cases, these lumps are noncancerous, and most females have them. However, it is important to get a doctor to check any new lumps.

Noncancerous lumps can include the following:

  • Fibroids are benign growths consisting of fibrous connective tissue.
  • Cysts are round, tender lumps that contain fluid. A complex cyst can contain both solid and liquid components.
  • Ductal or lobular hyperplasia occurs when the cells that line the milk ducts grow excessively.
  • Fibroadenomas refer to benign tumors comprising glandular and connective tissue. According to the American Cancer Society, fibroadenomas most often affect females in their 20s and 30s.
  • Intraductal papillomas are benign tumors that grow inside the milk ducts. They often cause bloody discharge from the nipples.
  • Adenosis causes enlarged lobules in the breast. These sometimes contain calcium deposits, which can make them resemble cancer on a mammogram.

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