Breast Pain

Chest pain: Causes and when to seek medical advice

First things first: If you feel unwell, have health concerns or think something is wrong, you should always see a qualified health professional. A doctor can do a thorough examination, make a correct diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatments. Self-medication or ignoring professional medical advice based on the information in this article is strongly discouraged. Each individual case may be unique and requires individual medical evaluation.

Breast pain is a common phenomenon in women and can range from swollen breasts and feelings of tightness to stabbing pain. These symptoms are not only uncomfortable, but can also be worrying. The question many women ask themselves is: Is this pain just a sign of monthly ovulation or is there something serious behind it?

Cycle-related breast pain

For many women, cycle-related breast pain is a familiar experience. This pain usually occurs between ovulation and the start of the next menstrual period during the luteal phase1

The female cycle is controlled by different hormones, including oestrogens and progesterone. After ovulation, progesterone levels rise abruptly, which can cause water retention in the breast tissue2. This in turn can lead to breast pain. At the same time, the breast tissue becomes more perfused, which leads to an increase in breast size and weight, resulting in feelings of tension.

This tension can cause tenderness to touch and pain, especially during physical activity. In addition, nipple pain, induration (hardening of the breast tissue) and nodular changes may occur. 

Medically, this cycle-related breast pain is called mastodynia3. Fortunately, there are ways to relieve this pain, such as cold compresses, which have a cooling and relaxing effect. Taking monk's pepper can also be helpful, but should always be done in consultation with your specialist to determine the best course of action for your individual situation4.

Reason to worry?

If there is tension in the breast or pain, accompanied by tenderness in the nipples, this can easily lead to worrying thoughts: Could this be a serious condition? It is important to remember that such symptoms often occur in connection with the female cycle, especially during ovulation and before the next menstruation. This means that in most cases they are unpleasant but usually harmless. 

Using Daysy can help you track such symptoms more closely and better understand their timing in relation to the progression of your menstrual cycle. In the DaysyDay app, you have the option to enter cycle-related symptoms in conjunction with your basal body temperature curve. This allows you to effectively document your body signals and cycle changes. By recording information about symptoms such as breast tenderness or nipple sensitivity in conjunction with your daily basal body temperature, you can gain valuable insights into your individual cycle patterns.

However, women who have persistent or severe symptoms should always seek medical advice to rule out serious medical problems.

What can I do for painful breasts?

In consultation with your doctor, you might consider medications for cycle-related breast pain. These include anti-inflammatory pain ointments or dehydrating medications that have been shown to be effective. There are also several steps that can help relieve the symptoms of breast pain:

  • Physical activity: Regular physical activity can improve blood flow to the chest region and help reduce swelling and fluid retention that can cause chest pain. In addition, physical activity releases endorphins that can relieve pain. An active lifestyle can also help to stabilise hormone levels, which can have a positive effect on the menstrual cycle and therefore on breast pain.

  • Cooling compresses: Applying cooling compresses to painful breasts can reduce swelling and inflammation. The cold constricts the blood vessels, reducing discomfort. This is particularly effective if the pain is associated with an inflammatory response.

  • Forgoing a bra or wearing a soft fabric underwired bralette: An underwired bra made of soft fabric can support the breasts without compressing them like a sports bra. This can reduce pressure on the breast tissue and relieve pain. Some women find it comfortable to go without a bra during this phase to relieve pressure on the breasts.

  • Drinking tea with hibiscus or sage: These herbal teas contain compounds that have anti-inflammatory and relaxing properties. Hibiscus tea can promote blood circulation and sage tea can help balance hormonal fluctuations. Both can thus help to alleviate the symptoms of chest pain.

  • Taking preparations with monk's pepper or St John's wort: Monk's pepper preparations can balance hormonal fluctuations in the female cycle and thereby reduce premenstrual symptoms, including breast pain. St John's wort can relieve mood swings and tension associated with premenstrual symptoms. These herbal preparations may therefore have a positive impact on the menstrual cycle and associated breast pain.

It is important to discuss these treatment options with a health professional to find the most appropriate solution for your individual needs.

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Sources:

1) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12243507/

2) https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s41974-018-0051-y

3www.frauenaerzte-im-netz.de

4) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23022391/