Cyclical Mastalgia: How To Get Through Breast Pain During Your Period
- Clinical evidence suggests that certain herbal medicines may be effective in countering breast pain.
- Over the counter pain medicine can be used to reduce the discomfort of cyclical mastalgia, though they will not be able to prevent the pain from recurring.
- If your doctor agrees you’re safe to consume Chinese herbs, our healing botanical tinctures work to balance your body for a peaceful flow.
Cyclical mastalgia is that monthly breast pain that comes before your period. You know, the kind that makes you hold your bosom in place as you go down stairs? Or cringe if someone accidentally hugs you too hard? You’re not alone: 90% of women are affected by premenstrual syndrome (or PMS), and most women experience breast pain related to their menstrual cycle among the symptoms of PMS.
Read more: 6 Gross Things You Didn’t Know Were in Your Tampon
What to Expect:
According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, breast pain may include any discomfort, tenderness or pain in the breast or underarm areas. It can affect one or both breasts and may radiate through your arms. Pain may be felt as a dull ache, tightness or heaviness, or may include a burning sensation.
Cyclical mastalgia generally becomes more intense a few days before a period begins. In some cases, pain may start a couple of weeks before menstruation, spanning the length of the luteal phase (second half of the cycle). Normally, this type of breast pain alleviates once the menstrual phase of your cycle ends.
For some women, lumpy breast tissue, called fibrocystic breast disease, is associated with breast pain. In the majority of cases, these lumps are benign (non-cancerous). Breast pain, no matter the severity, is not considered a symptom of breast cancer. In fact, most women with breast cancer do not experience any pain in their breasts at all. However, it is important to discuss any changes in your breasts with your doctor.
What’s the Cause?
While experts are not sure precisely what causes cyclical mastalgia and other PMS symptoms, breast pain is generally considered to be related to changes in hormone levels. Changes in sex hormones – specifically, high estrogen or low progesterone (which creates a relative excess of estrogen), can result in fluid increase and painful swelling in the second half of your cycle. Causes of estrogen dominance can include chronic stress, diet, hormone-disrupting personal care products, gut dysbiosis, and more.
What Can We Do About It?
Certain lifestyle changes can minimize cycle-related breast pain. These may include:
- A well-fitting bra (so that when they swell, they have some room to grow)
- Stress reduction (we love Calm)
- Exercise (especially in the week leading up to your cycle, even a light walk or yoga will help to avoid breast pain)
- Reduction of caffeine (which can aggravate symptoms) and salt (which can cause fluid retention)
- A diet rich in cruciferous veggies and/ or fiber to support your body’s natural elimination of estrogen
Over the counter pain medicine (such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen) can be used to reduce the discomfort of cyclical mastalgia, though they will not be able to prevent the pain from recurring. In order to do so, therapy to treat the underlying cause must be included.
Clinical evidence suggests that certain herbal medicines may be effective in countering breast pain:
- Vitamin E has been widely used to manage cyclical mastalgia because it helps reduce this inflammation and acts as an antioxidant, which protects your body from free radicals (which can wreak havoc on healthy cells). Experts recommend 15 mg of Vitamin E as a supplement for adult women.
- Studies show vitamin E to be especially effective in treating breast tenderness when combined with Evening Primrose Oil, which is rich in Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA) and is known to be useful for all kinds of PMS symptoms
- The herb chasteberry (aka vita berry) has been used for centuries to treat conditions associated with fluctuating hormone levels. Studies have shown that the herb, which causes the pituitary gland to block the release of prolactin, is effective in relieving symptoms of cyclical mastalgia.
- Another anti-inflammatory herb, ginkgo biloba, may also help relieve breast pain. It may also help with any depression or other emotional disturbance associated with your menstrual cycle. Women may take up to 80 mg 3 times daily.
- One of the reasons eating cruciferous veggies is so effective in improving cyclical mastalgia is they are rich in the precursor to diindolylmethane (DIM), which is involved in estrogen metabolism in the liver. Taking this as a supplement can be useful in the treatment of cyclical mastalgia.
Cyclical mastalgia may continue until we reach menopause. While it is normally not a condition to be concerned about, you should make an appointment with your doctor if you experience any visual changes to your breasts or nipples, discharge from the nipples or a lump or swelling in your armpit.
The good news? Elix is here to help. If your doctor agrees you’re safe to consume Chinese herbs, our healing botanical tinctures work to balance your body for a peaceful flow.
Take a moment to learn how your tailored Cycle Balance formula can improve the way you experience your next cycle.
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