When you’re going through menopause, you may think that your hormones are bottoming out and that you should no longer have issues with breast pain. However, that’s not true.
Breast pain is actually quite common in menopause. It has to do with the fact that your hormones are out of balance with each other.
Estrogen helps build up breast tissue, while progesterone helps calm down your breast tissue. When these two hormones are out of balance, you tend to have a lot more hyperplastic breast tissue. You may notice that your breasts are getting larger, that you’re needing to buy new bras. Your breasts may seem more fibrous, or maybe even more fibrocystic if you’ve had a fibrocystic condition in the past.
This is because of the imbalance between estrogen and progesterone. You’re actually a little estrogen dominant as you’re going through perimenopause and entering menopause, even though your estrogen is way too low. It’s very high compared to how much progesterone you’re making, so your breasts keep building up that tissue. The inflammation that can occur in the breast can be quite painful.
What can be done about breast pain during menopause?
Personally, I like to take a dietary and lifestyle approach to breast pain. The number one nutrient that seems to help breast pain more than anything else is evening primrose oil. Taking at least 1000 milligrams once or twice a day can make a big difference in calming down breast pain. Vitamin E can also be helpful when you take about 800 international units daily.
Making sure you’re wearing bras that actually fit and getting rid of underwire bras can be helpful.
The underwire can compress the lymph nodes that drain your breasts, and that can cause congestion and breast pain. The pain can actually extend from the outer quadrant of the breast, all the way up into the armpit. You can even have swelling. So it’s important to wear comfortable, supportive bras. Give your breasts some free time by taking off your bra at night. Of course, if you’re exercising, you need to wear an even more supportive bra. High-impact activities without adequate support can actually cause more discomfort, especially if you already have breast pain.
It’s also to remember to do a regular breast exam on yourself.
You know your breasts better than anyone else, so you’re more likely to find abnormal lumps. So, examine your breasts monthly, even through menopause. Remember to look for lumps that are new to you, or lumps that are very hard, like rock or bone. Look for lumps that do not move around with the breast. Your normal breast tissue is kind of floating in a capsule. So, a lump that kind of moves with the breast is more normal than a lump that wants to root itself down to your chest wall and not move along with the rest of the breast tissue. Breast cancer is not always painful, so a painless lump needs to be evaluated if it’s new to you.
Breast pain can be hard to live with during menopause.
I have an interesting story about breast pain. It’s a little intimate, but I’m willing to share it with you all. My mother used to have very particular breast pain. It was on her left breast, always on the left outer side. And there was never anything wrong; ultrasounds, mammograms, and breast exams never found anything, but it would always occur whenever there was something going on in the family. It became such a common incident that if my mom was having breast pain, I would just text the rest of the family to make sure everyone was okay.
What’s most interesting is that when my mother got sick with cancer, I started experiencing the exact same breast pain, almost as if I took on her responsibility in the family. So now whenever it occurs to me, I know that I’m worrying about something or somebody and that I need to calm down.
If any of this has resonated with you, I encourage you to join our Hormone Support Group, where we share this type of intimate information. We’d love for you to join us.