Menopause is a part of the life cycle that brings a lot of changes emotionally and physically. On the other hand, breast pain is a pain that women deal with frequently throughout their reproductive years. The pain usually resolves on its own and, in many instances, does not need any additional treatments to relieve the discomfort.
However, there is a common misconception that breast pain will go away as you enter menopause. Unfortunately, this may not be the case for everyone. Another term for sore breast, is Mastalgia, and is something women experience due to the fluctuating hormones, particularly Estrogen and Progesterone in the body. Some women prefer to take a medication such as an Estrogen Tablet to ease the symptoms.
As you are in the peri-menopausal stage, the hormone fluctuations are extreme than usual, which may trigger Mastalgia. You will also notice physical changes in your breast aside from the pain, and this is normal as you slowly move into menopause.
Mastalgia can be categorized into two types, cyclic and non-cyclic.
Cyclic breast pain often affects women during the last phase of their menstrual cycle or as they approach their period. The hormonal changes cause the breast to be tender and swollen. The pain is felt on the outer part of the breasts, and it usually improves as the cycle progresses.
This type of breast pain is not related to your menstrual cycle. Unlike cyclic breast pain, where it is more generalized, non-cyclic often causes sharp pain or soreness on a specific part of the breast. It is often experienced after menopause.
Although breast tenderness is normal, certain individuals can be at more risk with breast pain because of an existing underlying condition, said by Dr Sandra Krishnan.
Women may not be able to avoid breast tenderness and pain, but there are home management and prevention tips that can be done to alleviate the pain.
Tips to reduce breast tenderness
Changing your bra size or choosing a better-fitting bra or opting for a support type bra when doing your workouts can lessen the pain. Taking a warm shower, or using a heating pad when you notice there is pain. Some women find reducing caffeine, and nicotine intake helps with the tenderness.
Since fluctuating hormones are mainly to blame for the tenderness, taking supplements can help lessen the effect. Vitamin B6 and Vitamin E have been shown to reduce the symptom and protect the cells in the body from free radicals.
Evening primrose oil is a good source of essential fatty acid that can help with pain management. The oil is known for its hormonal balancing property and wound healing. It is also effective in dealing with acne and scars. Another good source of essential fatty acids is fish oil and flax seeds.
Even though menopause is part of life, you should not neglect your regular check-up schedule. Health professionals can address any concerns you have as you enter the menopausal phases. Let them know about any unusual pain or changes that may appear.
If you are planning for a mammogram, schedule it after your period because the breast will be less sensitive. It is important that you feel at ease talking to your physician about any concerns regarding your health.
When Should You Be Concerned?
Breast pain is not directly associated with breast cancer and, in many cases, will disappear after the perimenopausal stage. However, if you notice these changes in your breast, consult your doctor as soon as possible:
- Changes in breast size, specifically in one side
- Discharges from the nipple
- Presence of lump under the armpit or near the collarbone
- Unusual firm lump around the breast area
- Breast pain that doesn’t go away
Every woman in their 40’s is encouraged to do a Breast Cancer screening and it should be done routinely. Early detection allows for early treatment. Those who are 50 years old and above are advised to have a routine check-up every two years.
You may not be able to stop breast tenderness entirely during the menopausal stage, especially if you are taking hormonal therapy. However, there are ways to help reduce the discomfort from your breast. Lifestyle changes and supplementing with the right vitamins and minerals and frequent check-ups can improve the level of pain.