Cyclical Breast Pain – Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Females often complain of Breast Pain (Mastodynia/Mastalgia) around the time of menstruation that is Cyclical Breast Pain. This sort of pain usually occurs due to the hormonal changes a woman’s body undergoes through the entire cycle of a menstrual period. Some other causes of hormone-related pain include pregnancy, menopause, and puberty.

Location of Pain

This type of pain mostly affects both the breasts but could occur on one side only too. The pain is concentrated on the upper and outer parts of the Breast mostly.

Duration of Pain

Cyclical Breast Pain usually occurs a few days before the onset of menstruation and goes away on it’s on in 1-4 days. Nevertheless, it mostly vanishes once the woman reaches the age of menopause. In contrast to that, it could still remain there in women who use hormone replacement therapy.

Character of pain

The patient may complain of a range of different sensations from tingling to burning. The breast could also be tender to touch.

Symptoms

  • Tingling and burning sensation in the Breast.
  • Pain mostly affects the outer and uper part of breast.
  • Pain also radiates in the arm.
  • Swollen and Lumpy Breast.
  • Severe discomfort.
  • Tender to touch.
  • Increased pain during sexual activity.

Causes

Breast pain could be in response to hormone changes or side effects of drugs.

Hormonal changes:

Women with Cyclical Breast Pain have Breast tissue that is more sensitive to hormone changes than others. Mastalgia, in this case, is nothing to worry about. Often the pain has the relevance of psychogenic causes.

Side effects of other drugs:

At times a person might be taking some medicine for a problem that could lead to breast pain. In that case, the patient must consult their GP as early as possible. These medicines include:

  • Contraceptives
  • Postmenopausal Estrogen and Progesterone Therapy
  • Antidepressants
  • Haloperidol (Antipsychotic)
  • Digoxin

Risk factors

  • Caffeine
  • Chocolate
  • Smoking
  • Tea
  • Stress
  • Estrogen therapy

Diagnosis

Patients often visit the gynecologist concerned more about a serious breast related condition such as a breast tumor. It’s rather instinctive of a person to have such a concern but pain alone is seldom a cause of breast cancer. A detailed breast examination followed by an ultrasound or mammography depending upon the examination results will help reach a proper conclusion.

Management

The Cyclical Breast Pain can be managed by taking some conservative and some medical measures:

Medical Treatment:

  • Over the counter medicines such as ibuprofen or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) mainly for the cyclical pain prove to be an effective remedy.
  • Topical diclofenac or topical ibuprofen have also proved great relief.
  • Evening primrose: A few studies suggest that using this gamolenic acid based product is effective in relieving breast pain and could be used with proper instructions from your Physician.

Conservative Treatment:

  • Well-fitted bra: One of the first things that are advised to the patients presenting with breast pain is to get a properly fitted bra from a tailoring expert. The wrong size of bra can worsen the pain by poorly supporting the breast.
  • Diet: A good diet goes a long way.
  • Foods that include caffeine such as chocolates, coffee, sodas, tea, etc. should be avoided at all costs.

When to consult the doctor?

Subsequently, the patient goes to a doctor a few days from the time of onset of the pain. The patient is often concerned more about a serious breast-related condition such as a breast tumor. Breast pain can be very distressing at times and in such a case immediately consult your Gynaecologist and ask for assistance.

FAQ

Which doctor should I consult with in case of breast pain?

You can visit a general surgeon or a gynecologist.

Which medicines can I use for breast pain?

Most doctors advise on using over the counter pain relievers. These include ibuprofen and NSAIDs.

Do I need to get tests done?

Based on your physical examination, your doctor can suggest an ultrasound test of the breast.