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Breast Pain And Menstrual Periods


Updated March 14, 2011

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Breast Pain And Menstrual Periods
Cyclical Breast Pain and Menstrual Cycle

Cyclical Breast Pain and Menstrual Cycle

Art © Pam Stephan

Breast pain or breast tenderness can be related to your menstrual periods. This type of breast pain comes and goes with your cycle, and is called cyclical breast pain. Your menstrual periods can vary in response to natural hormones and to birth control pills.

Noncyclical breast pain is not related to your menses, and is rarely a symptom of breast cancer. Breast pain may also be referred to as mastodynia, mastalgia, mammalgia, or mastitis.

Cyclical Breast Pain And Menstrual Periods

Cyclical breast pain happens in response to the hormonal ebb and flow of your menstrual cycle. Every month during your fertile years, your reproductive system gears up for a potential pregnancy. Estrogen levels rise to a specific point, then your pituitary gland signals the production of luteinizing hormone, and ovulation occurs. If your egg is not fertilized, then the lining of your uterus will be shed during your menses. As progesterone levels drop, breast pain or tenderness may increase until your period starts. As your menstrual period tapers off, so does your cyclical breast pain.

Your breasts are intended to make milk to nourish a baby at the end of a full-term pregnancy. Lobes and ducts respond to the monthly hormonal swings by swelling, which may partly explain cyclical breast pain. The enlargement of your milk-producing system may press against other features within your breast: cysts, fibroadenomas, nerves, ligaments and muscles. Breast skin may become more sensitive than average and your nipples may feel sore and irritated. If pregnancy interrupts your monthly cycle, your breasts will respond to a sustained progesterone level by fully maturing over the next nine months.

Birth Control Pills And Breast Pain

Birth control pills are sometimes prescribed to relieve breast pain in premenopausal women. Because we all process the hormones in these pills differently, the pill helps some women, while others feel more breast pain. The synthetic hormones in birth control pills affect your menstrual cycle as well as your breast health. Let's look at how hormone and breast pain levels are affected by the pill, by comparing the combination pill and the minipill.

How Birth Control Pills Affect Breast Pain

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  6. Breast Pain And Menstrual Periods Without Birth Control Pills

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