Breast pain (mastalgia) is a common symptom that affects up to two-thirds of women in the UK, mostly between the ages of 30 and 50.
Breast pain may be felt as a heaviness or soreness, and has also been described as a stabbing or burning pain. It's usually felt in the upper, outer area of your breasts and may extend from your breasts to your armpits, and sometimes down your arms.
Many women worry that breast pain may be a sign of a serious condition. However, breast pain by itself is not a symptom of breast cancer and breast pain does not increase your risk of developing breast cancer.
In most cases, breast pain is relatively mild, although some women experience moderate or severe pain. Severe or chronic breast pain can interfere with daily activities and lead to stress, anxiety or depression.
Any pain or lumps that are ongoing and do not come and go with your monthly cycle should be investigated by your GP but for cyclical pain try these changes;
· When you’re in the shower, soap your breasts and gently massage them from the centre of your chest out to your armpits. This improves blood circulation.
· Wrap a towel around a bag of ice cubes and apply it to each breast for about 10 minutes. The cold-pack treatment reduces swelling and dulls the pain.
· Consider wearing support bras instead of underwire bras when your breasts are tender. You may want to wear your bra to bed to reduce nighttime jostling.
· Consume plenty of fibre, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes (like lentils and black beans) and whole grains. A higher-fibre diet helps you excrete more estrogen, which helps with breast tenderness.
· Aim to get less than 30 percent of your calories from fat.
· Reduce your consumption of methylxanthine, a component of many common foods, including coffee, tea, wine, beer, bananas, chocolate, cheese, peanut butter, and mushrooms. Most women who endure painful lumps on a cyclical basis will improve if they cut back on foods that are high in this compound.
· Sodium increases water retention, which causes your breasts to swell. Be especially careful to keep a cap on your salt consumption starting about two weeks before your period.
· Dandelion is a natural diuretic. Take the herb in capsule form, or make a tea. Drink three cups a day.
· Try evening primrose oil, a traditional herbal remedy for premenstrual symptoms. It contains an essential fatty acid GLA that may help balance a woman’s hormones and seems to ease cyclical breast tenderness.
· Vitamins E and B6 may also work together to help prevent breast tenderness. While you may have to use supplements, you can boost the vitamins in your diet by eating nuts, barley and wheat germ for more vitamin E, and avocados, lean meats and spinach for plenty of B6.