- Hormones are making your breasts sore.
Hormonal fluctuations are the number one reason women have breast pain. Breasts become sore three to five days prior to the beginning of a menstrual period and stop hurting after it starts. This is due to a rise in estrogen and progesterone right before your period. These hormones cause your breasts to swell and can lead to tenderness.
“It’s normal to have breast tenderness that comes and goes around the time of your period,” says Wright. “It’s nothing to worry about.”
If you become pregnant, your breasts may remain sore during the first trimester as hormone production ramps up. Breast tenderness is one of the earliest signs of pregnancy for many women.
Steps you can take to minimize sore breasts include:
- Eliminate caffeine
- Eat a low-fat diet
- Reduce salt intake
- Avoid smoking
- Take an over-the-counter pain reliever
- Ask your doctor if switching birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy medications may help
- You have a breast injury.
Like any part of your body, breasts can be injured. This can happen because of an accident, while playing sports or from breast surgery. You may feel a sharp, shooting pain at the time of injury. Tenderness can linger for a few days up to several weeks after trauma to the breast. See your doctor if the pain doesn’t improve or you notice any of these signs:
- Severe swelling
- A lump in the breast
- Redness and warmth, which could indicate an infection
- A bruise on your breast that doesn’t go away
- Your breasts hurt due to an unsupportive bra.
Without proper support, the ligaments that connect breasts to the chest wall can become overstretched and painful by the end of the day. The result is achy, sore breasts. This may be especially noticeable during exercise. Make sure your bra is the correct size and provides good support.
- Breast pain is really coming from your chest wall.
What feels like breast pain may actually be coming from your chest wall. This is the area of muscle, tissue and bone that surrounds and protects your heart and lungs. Common causes of chest wall pain include:
- A pulled muscle
- Inflammation around the ribs
- Trauma to the chest wall (getting hit in the chest)
- Bone fracture
- Breastfeeding is causing breast tenderness.
Breastfeeding can sometimes be the source of breast pain. Some of the things you can experience while nursing include:
- Painful nipples from an improper latch (the way a baby latches on to suck)
- Tingling sensation during letdown (when the milk starts to flow to the baby)
- Nipple soreness due to being bitten or having dry, cracked skin or an infection
If you have pain while breastfeeding, it’s best to talk to your doctor or a lactation consultant. They can help you troubleshoot the problem while maintaining your milk supply.