You’ve probably experienced breast pain and achy, heavy boobs as part of your menstrual cycle in the run-up to your period. You know, the kind where you have to hold them as you head down the stairs?
The difference now is you’re finding they feel that way, well, whenever. And rather than them just being a bit uncomfortable, they hurt – really bloody hurt. You’d quite like to live life in a giant bubble so no one can knock into you by accident.
The big fluctuations in oestrogen and progesterone mean breast pain in perimenopause and menopause is likely to feel more intense than the discomfort experienced in the run-up to a normal period. Some report stabbing or even burning pain. And sometimes, it might only be on one side.
Your timetable also tends to go out of the window and you might find that although you’re not due on, or maybe you haven’t had a period for a while, all of a sudden your breast soreness can feel like you’ve gone six rounds with Olympic boxer, Nicola Adams. It can be both confusing and frustrating.
Breast pain isn’t normally a symptom of a serious problem like breast cancer. However, if you have any concerns, don’t hesitate to speak to your doctor. And if you’re over 50, please do make time to go for a mammogram every three years.
TOP TIPS FOR YOU
We’re here to help you deal with this unpleasant side effect of the change. Our top tips are all practical ways you can reduce breast pain and get back to whatever more fun and important thing you were doing.
Suffering from breast tenderness? When you take your bra off at the end of the day (oh, what a feeling), are there red marks where it’s been sat? Yeah? Your bra isn’t the right fit.
As your hormones enjoy an extended game of ping-pong, your boobs may change in size and shape.
Trying to stuff your girls into that bra you bought back in 2003 isn’t going to have great results for
you on the comfort front. It’s time to hit the shops, get ’em measured – many stores have a free fitting service – and treat yourself to some lovely, new bras.
TRY A LITTLE HEAT
Some women find that gentle heat near their boobs reduces swelling and eases breast pain. You can buy stick-on heat pads or use a traditional wheat bag warmed through in the microwave.
A word of warning though – don’t put anything too hot on your tatas. The skin around that area is very delicate and if you scald them, you’re really going to know about it.
Breast cancer is still the most common cancer in the UK, yet 1 in 3 women don’t regularly check their little (or big) ladies for abnormalities. And if your ladies feel like they’re on fire, we get it, you’re hardly going to want to start poking and prodding them*.
But this doesn’t mean don’t do it at all. When your breasts aren’t feeling too sore, then it’s a good idea to do your monthly check while you’ve got the opportunity to do so without too much discomfort.
*The NHS has this brilliant guide for how to do your check properly (poke and prod-free).
INCREASE YOUR Bs & Es
Vitamin B supports healthy cell function while Vitamin E helps to protect them from damage by free radicals.
Making sure your diet contains lots of whole grains, legumes, seeds and nuts, and leafy greens might help you feel better from the inside while helping tackle other menopausal symptoms like fatigue.
The bonus of these foods is they also contain magnesium which helps with muscle and nerve function and may also ease breast pain in menopause.
BE WARY OF EVENING PRIMROSE OIL
We’re not saying don’t try it. Throughout their adult lives, many women use Evening Primrose to manage their menstrual symptoms and swear by it.
Just don’t have too much. High levels can actually encourage swelling and inflammation. If you try it and find yourself feeling worse, you might want to switch to a Vitamin E oil instead. Or, if you’re very worried, ask a health practitioner for information and advice.
You might also want to look at Vitex Agnus-Castus as another alternative herbal remedy.
BE HONEST WITH YOUR PARTNER
Being intimate when your knockers are sore is probably the last thing on your mind. In fact, you probably want to put up a two-metre exclusion zone around yourself.
We don’t blame you. But it can be tough on your other half if they don’t understand how you feel. Explain the breast pain you’re experiencing and what they can do to support you.
TOP TIPS FOR OTHERS
For most women, this symptom isn’t one they’re often going to divulge. Instead, they may be struggling silently even though their chest feels like it’s on fire.
You can help take the pressure off by following these hints and tips.
OUR ADVICE TO HER
We’ve suggested that she gets herself to the lingerie department to get measured – a new well-fitting bra could make her much more comfortable. Gentle heat could help her too.
We’ve flagged that it’s still important she checks her breasts regularly for any abnormalities, even if they’re sore.
More info on all of these top tips is on the ‘For her’ section of this page. Take a look.
ADJUST THE STRENGTH OF YOUR HUGS
Affection is obviously an important part of any relationship – friendly or romantic. However if she’s suffering from sore boobs, tight hugs can hurt. Be aware and check-in on the level of breast tenderness she's experiencing before touching her.
DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY
We appreciate it may feel like a personal slight if she’s being off with you or doesn’t want you to go near her. But it’s most likely nothing to do with you.
Bear in mind that she might be feeling sensitive or physically rotten due to her fluctuating hormones. Take a deep breath and either ask her if anything is wrong or if she needs some space.
ASK THEM WHAT WILL HELP
Is there anything you can do to make her more physically comfortable?
Ask her exactly what you could do to help. Can you do more around the house if you live together? Could you cancel on a couple of commitments? Would she like you to run her a bath or even just make her a cup of tea – but only if that’s what she wants.
Ask, rather than assume. If you do the latter you may well find it has the opposite effect to the one you’d like.
SUGGEST A SUPPLEMENT
Pumping up her intake of vitamins B and E can encourage healthy cell function, while magnesium and evening primrose supplements could ease her breast pain.
Why not gently ask if she’s tried taking anything like that? Let her know she can nd loads of reputable suppliers over on our nutrition page.