What Causes Breast Pain & How to Relieve Symptoms

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The breast is a dynamic, unique, and constantly changing organ for all women.  

Breasts change drastically throughout a woman’s lifetime in response to hormones, physical changes, pregnancy, breastfeeding, menopause, and other women’s health factors as well!

If any of these changes lead to breast pain, read on to see what might be the reason and to learn some tips on how to relieve breast pain from your life.  

Because let’s face it, having pain in your breasts is not something any woman wants to experience!  

Why You Might Be Experiencing Breast Pain

Most commonly, women’s breast pain results from hormonal changes that occur in the body due to the menstrual cycle. Ladies, you know, we’ve all been there!

About two weeks before our cycle we begin to start wondering why our breasts are tender and sore.  The pesky culprit is fluid retention and hormonal changes.  

Shifting hormonal changes around two weeks before your period starts leads to fluid increase in the body which can cause pressure or inflammation in the breast tissue. 

Well, at least we are not the only ones who experience this; hello, every other woman!

What if it’s Not Your Period

Some women have breast pain that is not related to their period in any way.  And it’s unfortunate that there has not been enough research done to understand why this might happen. 

Some studies have concluded that breast pain can be related to inflammation, and other studies have linked breast pain to chronic pain syndromes in women who suffer from anxiety and panic disorders.  

If you are suffering from any of these issues, please see your doctor and take the time to create a team of professionals who are devoted to your care and wellness!  

Something wonderful to consider is taking time for yourself to acknowledge and release any painful emotional states and learned helplessness.  Dr. Christiane Northrup has learned that these painful emotional states “have been shown to alter the body’s immune and hormonal response.” 

Most likely, there is something that you have always wanted to do, or there is something that happened to you that you would like to heal and work through.  

As you read on to find interesting and informative relief for breast pain try these options while taking the time to work through any painful emotional problems that are weighing on you.  

You are worth the time, money, and effort because your life is spectacularly yours.  

Breast Symptom Relief

See if these 7 suggestions and tips can eliminate your breast pain!

1. Normalize Estrogen

Breast tissue is sensitive to high-fat and high-carbohydrate diets because they raise estrogen levels.  Sometimes excessive estrogen consumption can lead to stimulated breast tissue which can cause pain or even worse, cysts. Every woman knows another woman who has dealt with cysts, yet no one talks about it!  

Do yourself a favor and eat cruciferous vegetables (turnips, broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts) because they help excrete excess estrogen. Especially focus on broccoli sprouts.  They are a powerhouse source of cruciferous!

So by changing to a whole-foods, low-fat diet, even if it’s little by little, you can reduce the severity of breast tenderness and swelling. 

2. Eliminate Dairy Products

Just see about it.  Maybe try it for a few days each week.  Or if you really want to see if eliminating dairy will work for you, try going cold turkey for a solid month. 

We know, we love cheese too, but to minimize your pain, let’s at least try it. 

3. Eliminate caffeine

Another worst nightmare, yep, here it is.  Eliminate all caffeine from your diet. This is quite the list too because it is a complete elimination.  The list includes caffeinated drinks, colas, and chocolate – even decaffeinated coffee and soft drinks.  

Ugh, chocolate is your favorite, coffee in the morning is spiritual, and a soft drink every now and again is excellent for the sugary pickup!  But the problem with all of these foods is the methylxanthine in each and every one of these items.  

There is conflicting evidence among the scientific studies that have been conducted on methylxanthines and breast pain, but the problem is that they overstimulate breast tissue, which can most likely lead to pain and sensitivity.  

And no one wants that, so cut out the caffeine and see if this elimination eradicates your breast pain.  

4. Supplements 

What’s not to love about taking beneficial supplements!  Here are 4 that have been found to assist the body in minimizing breast pain. 

  1. Evening Primrose Oil
  2. Gamma-Linolenic Acid have both been found to curb inflammation in the breasts which helps with breast tenderness and pain  
  3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids in the form of cold water fish, walnut, flaxseed, and sesame oil are all good options for positive breast tissue health 
  4. Multivitamins with a high percentage of Vitamin E because it has been studied and proven to help reduce breast tenderness and pain 

It is important to work with a skilled naturopathic doctor to take the proper amounts for your particular ailment. Once that is established, we can’t help but suggest that you take all for a collective effect!

5. Iodine Intake

Working with a knowledgeable doctor will help you in many ways. One of the ways a naturopathic doctor can help you is by understanding your unique physiological makeup.  

In other words, getting the proper tests and samples of your chemical makeup will assist your doctor, and you, in understanding what is happening inside your body.  

Once your doctor knows more about you and your unique physiology, you may be prescribed iodine to help you with your breast pain. Because iodine has been shown to decrease the ability of estrogen to attach to estrogen receptors in the breasts, having proper amounts of iodine in your system is important.  

There are a couple of different ways you can get iodine into your system.  And as we said earlier, working with your doctor to find the best application for you is smart and safe.  

The last and most wonderful thing about iodine is that it works quickly and can help relieve your pain in a short amount of time.  

Let’s now learn about the most important thing in this topic!

6. Learning About Your Breasts

One of the most knowledgeable and interesting ways to minimize breast pain is to get familiar with your own pair.  

Ok, so you think you know them (they’ve been there for quite some time you’re thinking, how could I not!), but hear us out, there is so much to learn about your breast anatomy that you probably never thought about before.

What do they look like on the inside? Where do the milk glands begin and the fat tissues build up? Is part of my breast really connected to my armpit? And what muscles are underneath and around the breasts?   

Also, how do they feel? Through self breast examining, when do your breasts begin to feel sore, tender, and swollen? Ask and answer all of these questions to learn about your breast anatomy, and then track the information! 

Keep a calendar and indicate how your breasts change in relation to your menstrual cycle.  Mark any changes, different feelings, and any pain-free days.  

7. Massage 

You can also perform a gentle massage on your breasts at least once a month to get to know your individual shape, texture, lumps, and tenderness.  

Learning more about your anatomy, and then applying that knowledge to your massage techniques, will most definitely give you something to look forward to when combating breast pain.  

We challenge you to take this on and perform some gentle and relaxing therapy on yourself!

More Ways and Better Help 

There are definitely more ways to minimize breast pain. If these Natural approaches do not work for you, talk to your doctor about possibly needing a stronger progesterone support such as a progesterone cream or bio-identical hormone. Not wearing an underwire bra, avoiding certain drugs, and applying castor oils packs are just a few other options. If breast pain is a problem that you are not exactly sure how to handle, please contact me and we’ll work together to find the most positive and healthy solution.   

NORTHRUP, CHRISTIANE. WOMENS BODIES, WOMENS WISDOM: Creating Physical and Emotional Health and Healing. S.l.: BANTAM, 1998. pages 339-345

About The Author:

Picture of Dr. Karen Threlkel, Naturopathic Physician, Washington DC

Dr. Karen Threlkel, Naturopathic Physician, Washington DC

Dr. Threlkel received her degree of Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine from The National College for Naturopathic Medicine (now called The National University of Natural Medicine) in Portland, Oregon. She also holds a Bachelor Degree in Kinesiology from The University of Maryland. She is licensed in Naturopathic Medicine by the Government of the District of Columbia Department of Health. Dr. Threlkel is a member of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, past president & current member of the Washington DC Association of Naturopathic Physicians.

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