5 Reasons for Breast Pain and How to Treat It

November 25, 2018
Have you ever thought that your diet may be the one of the causes of breast pain? Cutting down on some foods may provide some relief.

When we talk about breast pain, we’re referring mainly to when they become more sensitive to pressure or to touch. It may also be a sudden, abnormal pain, although this could also be normal at the end of the menstrual cycle or during pregnancy. There can be many reasons for breast pain, and we’ll be looking at some of them today.

1. Reasons for breast pain: mastitis

The first of our reasons for breast pain is mastitis. Mastitis causes breast inflammation and is principally caused by obstruction in the milk ducts. In some cases it could also be due to infection in the breast.

Woman covering breasts

Aside from pain, it also comes with:

  • Inflammation
  • General discomfort
  • Fever
  • Sensitivity in the breast
  • Redness
  • A feeling of hardness in the breast

The main cause of mastitis may also be dried and cracked nipples. This allows infectious organisms to come in. A weakened immune system or giving birth may also expose the mother to certain organisms that also give way to this problem.

To treat mastitis and the breast pain it causes, it is imperative to follow doctor-recommended treatment. You should also make sure your baby is feeding correctly. To avoid the cracking of nipples you should pump milk every two hours and then apply a moisturizing cream.

Read more: 6 Natural Treatments to Calm Mastitis

2. Cysts

This is a very common problem for women. It is a benign growth that usually appears for hormonal reasons and consists of small balls of liquid. They can also appear when the breasts change size. Even though there is no apparent cause for them, they can be quite painful.

It’s important that you consult a doctor as soon as possible to eliminate them with oral medication. Most of the time this is enough and no surgery is required. If the doctor finds the condition to be more serious, you may be given more advanced therapy.

Don’t worry—this happens rarely and almost never means the form of cancer that women fear most. If you are experiencing this problem, try to avoid certain foods like chocolate and sodas. It’s also recommended to add vitamin E and B complex as dietary supplements.

See more: Add these 6 Foods to Your Diet for More Vitamin E

3. Fibromas

Fibromas are benign tumors. First of all, you need to understand that tumors and cysts are not the same thing. A tumor is a cellular formation that grows quickly, forming excess tissue. They are usually hard and rigid.

In general, benign breast fibromas (fibroadenoma) appear as tiny bulges, only millimeters in width.

These nodes usually vary according to:

  • Hormonal activity
  • Menstrual cycle
  • Pregnancy
  • Breastfeeding

Occasionally they may be larger and require surgical extraction, but in most cases they disappear with minor treatment.

4. Diet

Some of the reasons for breast pain can be due to certain ingredients. Foods with high fat, sodium or caffeine content are great examples. You should avoid or reduce consumption of these foods.

Others include:

  • Chocolate
  • Dried fruits (walnuts,peanuts, almonds)
  • Caffeinated beverages (soda, black tea, green tea)
  • Fast food
  • Salted popcorn or french fries
  • Processed sauces
  • Red meats and sausages

If, after reducing the consumption of the above, the breast pain continues, then you need to request a special medical examination. In addition to this, every month you should perform a self-examination of your breasts.

5. Menstruation

You may suffer many symptoms during the menstrual cycle. One of these is pain in the breasts. This is a very sensitive area that may become untouchable in the days before or during your period.

Some women complain of extreme pain, and the simple touch of clothing against the nipples or breasts may become intolerable. Hormones are the main reasons for breast pain during menstruation, and also in the bodily changes that occur during those days, such as general swelling, or fatigue.

Underarm of woman

Estrogen and progesterone are the two hormones produced during menstruation that also prepare women for pregnancy. They are the cause of premenstrual and menstrual symptoms such as weight gain and painful swelling of the breasts.

There are many ways to avoid this annoying problem before or during menstruation. One of the most popular is using birth control pills, patches or IUDs that significantly reduce breast pain. Another good alternative is to limit your consumption of caffeine, salt, animal fat and mil products prior to beginning your period.

To sum up, there are many reasons for breast pain. Each woman is different and you shouldn’t assume that what a friend or family member experiences is the same as your situation.

If you have any doubts, consult your doctor. Remember that you should never self-medicate. Although some over-the-counter medicines may help the problem initially, indiscriminate use can also lead them to be ineffective.

  • Young, J. S. (2008). Breast pain. In Emergency Department Analgesia: An Evidence-Based Guide. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511544835.018
  • Berens, P. D. (2015). Breast pain: Engorgement, nipple pain, and mastitis. Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology. https://doi.org/10.1097/GRF.0000000000000153
  • Alvero R. Fibrocystic breast disease. In: Ferri FF, ed. Ferri’s Clinical Advisor 2017. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:474-474.
  • Bope ET, Kellerman RD. Women’s health. In: Bope ET, Kellerman RD, eds. Conn’s Current Therapy 2016. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 17.
  • Hunt KK, Mittendorf EA. Diseases of the breast. In: Townsend CM Jr, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 34.