Sore Breasts and Sore Nipples
Most women will experience sore breasts and sore nipples at some point in their lives and this can be caused by a number of reasons. Increased sensitivity or soreness in the breasts can mean many things. However, not all of the underlying reasons for such symptoms are complicated or dangerous. In order to understand the reasons for breast soreness, it is important to know the function of the female reproductive system that is closely linked with this part of the anatomy.
Sore Breast Symptoms Resulting from Hormonal Changes
Women’s bodies undergo hormonal changes due to various reasons and such changes in hormones can contribute to sore breasts. For example, it is common for women to experience moderate to severe breast soreness during their ovulation period. Usually, these discomforts will disappear with the beginning of menstruation. During a menstrual cycle, the production of oestrogen and progesterone are higher than at any other time. The release of the progesterone hormone causes excessive water retention. This leads to bloating. Bloating will cause the breasts to enlarge, and the skin to stretch. This causes soreness in breasts and nipples. Water retention is not restricted to this part of the anatomy alone, but the sensitive skin on breasts and nipples make them more susceptive to the sensitized pains.
Sore breasts and sore nipples can be the preliminary signs of pregnancy in most women. Pregnancy also causes an increase in progesterone and oestrogen levels. As these hormone levels keep increasing during pregnancy, most women experience breast soreness throughout the duration of the pregnancy.
Menopausal women too will experience sore breasts and nipples as a result of hormonal fluctuations in the body. This mainly results from fluctuations in progesterone and oestrogen levels that happen during pre-menopause phase.
Other Causes of Breast and Nipple Soreness
There are several other causes of breast and nipple soreness apart from conditions where hormone changes are at play. Some of these causes as cited below, and can lead to serious medical conditions, if untreated:
- Fibrocystic Breast Disease – This is a common, benign breast disease. This results in a “bumpy” consistency in the breast tissue. The cause of this disease is unclear. However, symptoms of fibrocystic breast disease subside with menopause. It is important to diagnose this disease as the risk of breast cancer will increase for women with this disease.
- Climacteric Syndrome – This is caused by irregular ovary function. As the ovaries are unable to function properly, this causes the hormones to fluctuate. This in turn will cause soreness in breasts and nipples.
- Breast Cancer – Nipple tenderness is one of the indications of cancer in the breast tissue. A person with breast cancer will experience irritation, pain and reddening of the nipples. Persistent sore nipples need to be investigated by a healthcare professional.
Relieving Breast Soreness
There are several methods to relieve breast soreness. However, it is important firstly to eliminate the abovementioned illnesses. Once these illnesses are ruled out, there are several ways in which breast and nipple soreness can be reduced:
- Often women who do not wear proper support bras can feel breast soreness more than others. The movement of the breasts against the material of bras can make breast soreness worse than before. It is important to wear a proper bra as this ensures containment and makes it less painful. Proper bras are essential, especially when exercising.
- Pain in the breasts and nipples can be greatly reduced by applying hot or cold pads to the breasts. The method of choice depends on the person. Some may prefer cold pads while others will prefer hot pads.
- Breast soreness is often associated with birth control tablets and hormone replacement therapy. If breast soreness persists, it will be beneficial to speak to a doctor and change the birth control pill or hormone replacement therapy.
- In cases of severe pain, taking a pain medication such as Ibuprofen before the menstrual cycle can relieve pain associated with PMS. However, it is not recommended to take pain medication on a regular basis.
- Sore breasts and nipples are common when breastfeeding. This can be the result of a blockage in the tiny milk ducts. Applying a hot pack to the breasts will relieve the pressure in the breasts and release the milk from the duct. Plugged ducts along with flu-like symptoms can mean a breast infection. Treating a breast infection as soon as possible will help relieve breast and nipple soreness.
Breast and nipple soreness can be an uncomfortable experience. It can be alleviated with over-the-counter medication. It can also be alleviated with herbal remedies. Selecting the proper treatment method is essential to ensuring relief. For example, most breastfeeding mothers would not wish to take even an over-the-counter medication, for fear of secreting the medication to the infant through the milk. Therefore, making use of home remedies will be the preferred choice of most women. Knowing the symptoms and the most likely associated causes will help women make the right choice of treatment for breast and nipple soreness.