Why you may be feeling pain in your breasts

When a lady feels pain in her breasts, the first thought that comes to mind is breast cancer and this can be scary. However, the good news here is breast pain isn't usually associated with breast cancer. In this article, I explain reasons why you may be feeling pain in your breasts and when to report to the hospital

You can watch the video below or continue reading the article

You will agree with me the first thing that comes to mind when you feel pain in your breast is cancer right? Good news is pain isn’t usually associated with breast cancer. So, what then is the reason for this pain you feel?

My name is Stephanie Nyong, the health teacher and in this video, I’ll be telling you 8 possible reasons why you may be feeling this pain. 

Basically, breast pain is categorised into 2 major types; Those associated with your menstrual cycle called cyclical breast pain and those that aren’t which are called non-cyclical breast pain.

Cyclical Breast Pain will usually start at 1-2 weeks before your period and gets better as time passes after your period. This usually happens as a result of fluctuations with the hormones estrogen and progesterone.

So when people reach out to me via social media or when they come into the clinic and complain of breast pain, the first question I’ll ask is; when and how often do you feel this pain? 

If it comes regularly at a particular time in your menstrual cycle, then it just may be a cyclical breast pain. So first, you may want to first determine your menstrual cycle length, that is if you do not already know. A menstrual cycle cycle length is the number of days from the beginning of one period to the beginning of another. A normal menstrual cycle length is usually between 21 to 35 days. 

And then once you’ve determined that, you will want to keep a chart to pinpoint when exactly you feel this pain. You can take down notes and record signs in your cycle tracking app or maybe you are like me who is obsessed with pen and paper charting, you can also do the same. 

I’ll just show you an example of a menstrual cycle chart showing a cyclical breast pain.

So you do this for at least 2 cycles and then you can see clearly if it follows a regular pattern. Does it come 2, 3, 5, or 7 days before your period and improves afterwards. Once you establish a pattern, you can be sure it is cyclical breast pain. 

To further confirm it is a cyclical breast pain, you may also want to note if any of the following happen alongside; Do your breasts appear fuller or feel swollen, sore, heavy, tender or lumpy-lumps that go away after a period? Does it affect both breasts equally? 

In this chart, you can see this lady has this pain affecting both breasts equally, breasts are swollen and it goes away as soon as she finishes her period.

So with this little information, tell me do you ever experience cyclical breast pain and what does it feel like? Were you always scared before you found out it was completely normal? Tell me in the comments section 

If a woman’s breast pain is not associated with her menstrual cycle, then it is non-cyclical, some of which will require you get it checked especially if this pain is constant and doesn't go away or it comes and goes over several weeks. 

I like you to know that you can also feel breast pain if:

  • You wear a poorly fitted bra especially if you have large breasts. A bra too small or too tight can cause pressure to the breasts. You may feel the pain even extending to your neck and back. In this case, you need to first get a proper bra fitting and then a good supportive bra. 
  • You have fibrocystic breasts. Breast with tissues that feel lumpy or rope like in texture.
  • You engage in strenuous activities like cleaning, shoveling, activities that engage the pectoral muscles beneath your breasts can end up causing this kind of pain. 
  • You take hormonal Medications like birth control pills
  • You are on a hormonal transition like ; puberty, pregnancy or menopause. Injury, surgery or trauma to the breast can cause breast pain too
  • Mastitis; an infection often experienced during breastfeeding cause breast pain as well. 

When to visit the clinic

For infections and other signs like skin changes, discoloration, difference in breast size, lumps, enlarged lymph nodes in your armpit area, nipple inversion, you will need to visit  the clinic as early as possible. It could be a sign of something serious. 

You will need to visit the clinic for further investigations which will usually start with a clinical breast examination, then an ultrasound or Mammogram depending on your symptoms and age. The earlier you get it figured out, the better.

Do you still have any questions, drop them in the comments below or send me a message or email using links below this video. You can also visit our centre for proper clinical breast examinations. We will do it for you and then teach you how to do it on your own, also giving you breast examination reminder cards to go home with. It will show you how and remind you to. 

Cheers to being a healthy woman 

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Stephanie Nyong
About Stephanie Nyong 70 Articles
Stephanie O. Nyong is a seasoned health educator and content strategist at Health Platforms International where she empowers individuals especially women and girls with knowledge and skills to prevent and manage a number of health conditions. She is the founder of BE-ME Africa, a Breast Examination and Menstrual Education project for young girls. Stephanie also organises pop-up clinics regularly to provide affordable quality healthcare services to a target population. She is admired in the industry and has the capacity to deliver on the current demand for health literacy for improved health outcomes in Nigeria. You can connect with her across all social media handles @stephanie_nyong

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