Breast pain or tenderness, also known as mastalgia, is any pain, discomfort, or tenderness in the breast. Breast pain is a very common condition amongst women, especially during their menstrual cycle. In fact, breast pain affects about 65 percent of women.
The most common cause of breast pain is hormonal imbalances from menstruation; pregnancy, breastfeeding, puberty, and menopause. It is worthy to note that some breast swelling and tenderness, before your menstrual period, is normal.
Other causes of breast pain include; certain medications, large breasts, ill-fitted bras, eccentric deposition of fatty acids in the breast, and breastfeeding.
Some women fear they have breast cancer when they have breast pain on one or both breasts. However, it should be noted that breast pain is an uncommon symptom of breast cancer.
Breast pain can be categorized into two major clinical patterns;
- Cyclical Pattern: In cyclical breast pain, the pain fluctuates throughout the menstrual cycle. This is often caused by hormonal fluctuations.
- Non-cyclical Pattern: In non-cyclical breast pain, the pain remains relatively constant throughout the menstrual cycle. This is often caused by issues that affect the breast anatomy or physiology such as trauma, cysts or growths, and surgery. Non-cyclical breast pain is relatively uncommon.
Some common symptoms of breast pain include; soreness, swelling of the breasts, tenderness, and stinging pain.
Here are some tips and good practices, to consider, if you are dealing with breast pain and tenderness;
- Increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables as they are rich in antioxidants which help heal the body and fight off harmful free radicals.
- You should opt for a sports bra while you exercise.
- You could consider taking up relaxation techniques such as meditation and yoga to help reduce stress and breast pain.
- Endeavor to wear properly fitted bras.
- Reduce your consumption of hydrogenated oils such as margarine and fried foods.
- Ensure you include fiber-rich foods in your diet to help flush out excess estrogen from your system.
- Ensure you consume an adequate amount of water daily to help flush out toxins from the body and to help soothe your breasts as well as keep you hydrated.
- Strive to examine your breast once a month, preferably a couple of days after your period ends as this is when you breast is least tender or swollen. If you notice a difference in the size and shape, consult your healthcare provider.
Below are various ways to deal with breast pain and tenderness at home;
1. Cold Compress
Applying a cold temperature to the painful and tender breast will minimize pain in an incredible way. Cold compress has a numbing action which reduces pain almost instantly. Wrap some ice cubes in a clean cloth and make a tightly secured bag out of it. Now apply it on your breasts for 10 minutes. Do this remedy several times during the day to relieve the pain.
2. Castor Oil
Castor oil has great healing properties. It contains ricinoleic acid which has an anti-inflammatory action on the body. Castor oil also has analgesic properties which reduces pain naturally. Furthermore, castor oil improves blood circulation which, in turn, promotes healing in a unique way. Take a tablespoon of castor oil in a bowl and mix it with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Massage your breasts gently with this oil every day for the entire week before your periods are expected to arrive.
3. Evening Primrose Oil
Another effective way to deal with breast pain and tenderness is to use evening primrose oil. Evening primrose oil contains an active compound called gamolenic acid which helps in balancing the levels of hormones in the body. As such, evening primrose oil would help in reducing discomfort in a natural way.
You can apply the oil topically over your breasts and use gentle strokes to massage for some minutes. A supplement of 240-500 mg of evening primrose oil every day for at least 3 months is also helpful in relieving the condition. Be sure to check with your doctor before taking the supplement.
Massaging your breasts will not only help in reducing pain but will also minimize the swelling. It improves the blood circulation in the area which promotes healing. It would also improve the nutrient supply to the breasts and maintain healthy tissues.
You may mix a little amount of camphor to some warm olive oil in a bowl. Then, apply it to your breasts and massage gently once or twice a day. You may also make a mixture of wheat germ oil and apricot oil to massage your breasts to relieve the pain and tenderness. Another way to improve the blood circulation is to massage each of your breasts while in the shower. Apply some mild soap and gently massage from the center towards the armpits for a relaxing effect.
5. Apple Cider Vinegar
To detoxify your body and reduce water retention, you may use apple cider vinegar. ACV would help in regulating your hormones and reduce the breast pain. For this remedy, take a glass of warm water and add two teaspoons of ACV in it. Make sure you use unfiltered and raw ACV for this purpose. Add a little amount of honey to it. Mix well and consume it two times every day until the pain and tenderness subside.
Having adequate levels of magnesium in the body is known to be beneficial in reducing breast pain and tenderness. Magnesium works by reducing fluid retention which alleviates swelling in an excellent way. Include foods that are high in magnesium such as avocados, dark leafy greens, dark chocolates, bananas, as well as seeds and nuts.
7. Vitamin E
Vitamin E helps in normalizing the imbalance in hormones in the body, thereby relieving the tenderness and pain in your breasts. You can use vitamin E oil to massage your breasts several times throughout the day. Alternatively, consuming foods high in vitamin E, such as almonds, spinach, sunflower seeds, turnips and olive oil, are proven to be beneficial in reducing breast pain and tenderness.
Dandelion has a diuretic effect on the body which helps in reducing fluid retention, thereby, relieving breast tenderness. For this remedy, add a teaspoon of dried roots of dandelion in water and let it simmer for 15 minutes. Strain the liquid and add a little amount of honey to it. Consume this tea thrice every day starting from a few days before your periods to get rid of the discomfort.
9. Chasteberry (Agnus Castus)
Chasteberry works by suppressing the release of the hormone prolactin from the pituitary gland which may greatly help in reducing breast tenderness and associated pain. Take a chasteberry extract of about 20mg 1-3 times every day for 3 months. It is recommended to consult a doctor before starting on the supplement.
Fennel has a detoxifying effect on the body. It also helps in regularizing the female hormones which prevent pain and tenderness observed in premenstrual syndrome. Steep 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds in a cup of hot water for at least 10 minutes. Strain the liquid and drink the tea several times in the day. Chewing roasted seeds of fennel is also helpful in reducing the symptoms.
11. Lose Weight
Increased body weight may lead to an imbalance in hormones which may cause harm to your body. An increased consumption of animal fat may result in less release of estrogen in the body. In addition to that, the excess fats tend to get accumulated in the breasts aggravating your condition. Maintaining an ideal weight is known to be effective in balancing your hormones and alleviating symptoms such as breast pain and tenderness.
12. Cabbage Leaves
Swollen and painful breasts can be effectively alleviated by the deep healing action of cabbage leaves. All you have to do is apply the raw leaves on your breast and cover them with the help of a cloth to make it stay in place. It will help in reducing the tenderness to a great extent.
13. Reduced Salt Intake
Excessive salt intake may cause water retention in the body which may affect your breasts and make them swollen and painful. It is advisable to limit your salt intake in order to minimize the likelihood of breast pain and tenderness.
14. Warm Compress
A warm compress will improve the flow of blood in your breast and reduce swelling and pain. Simply soak a towel in warm water. Wring the excess water and apply the compress on your tender breasts for some minutes. Repeat this remedy several times in a day. You may also soak yourself in a tub filled with warm water for some minutes to get rid of the pain while relaxing your body.
Soya products are high in isoflavone compounds which has relieving action on breast tenderness and the associated pain. Therefore, include soybeans, soy milk, and soy burgers in your daily diet to get rid of the condition in a natural way.
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