Breast pain is medically known as mastalgia. 'Masto' means breast and 'algos' means pain in Greek. The other medical terms for breast pain include mastodynia and mammalgia. Studies have proven that at least 7 in 10 women have experienced mastalgia once in their life. The discomfort in the breasts can range from mild to severe pain. Many women complain of severe pain in the breasts during their menstrual cycle.
It is a common belief that pain experienced in any part of the body signifies that something is not right. Many women tend to associate breast pain with breast cancer. However, the causes of mastalgia may not be so extreme most of the time.
Types of Breast Pain
Breast pain is usually of two types, namely, cyclic and non-cyclic breast pain. Cyclic breast pain is the most common pain experienced by women whereas the non-cyclic pain is far less common. It is experienced by women who have undergone a breast biopsy or any trauma in the breast.
✔ Symptoms of Cyclic Breast Pain
- This breast pain is often related to the menstrual cycle.
- Dull and heavy pain, breast swelling, or lumpiness are the other indicants.
- Affects the upper, outer portions of both the breasts and radiates towards the underarm.
- The pain intensifies at the start of the menstrual period and eases as the days pass by.
- Seen in women between the age group of 20 - 30. Also, affects perimenopausal women in their 40s.
- Non-cyclic pain is not at all related to menstruation.
- The pain feels like a tight, burning sore.
- The pain is constant or sometimes intermittent.
- It affects a localized area in one breast and may spread across the whole breast.
- It is seen in post-menopausal women in their 40s and 50s.
Several factors can lead to a discomfort in the breasts. Enlisted below are a few causes:
It is seen that cyclic breast pain is linked to hormones. The hormonal changes during periods, pregnancy, and after pregnancy play a major role in mastalgia.
- Retention of Water
During periods, the breasts absorb extra fluid instead of discharging it. This water retention may also cause pain in the breasts.
- Physical factors
Non-cyclic breast pain may be caused due to breast cysts, trauma, breast surgery, and other factors related to the breast.
- Imbalance of Fatty Acids
The fatty acid imbalance affects the breast tissue cell sensitivity and hormone circulation. Thus, it is advised to take primrose oil capsules to restore the fatty acid balance.
- Size of the Breast
It is seen that heavy chested women suffer from non-cyclic breast pain. This pain is accompanied by neck pain, shoulder pain, and back pain.
Oral contraceptives and infertility treatments also cause mastalgia. Estrogen and progesterone hormone replacement therapy lead to breast tenderness. Intake of certain antidepressants may also be the possible causes.
A possible microbial infection may also result in pain in the breasts.
Breast cancer may be a possible cause of mastalgia. But, pain is a very unusual symptom of breast cancer.
- Other Causes
Hormone replacement therapy, weight gain, unfitting bras, and tumors may be the other causes. You should keep in mind that not all tumors point towards breast cancer. Therefore, it is best if your doctor decides whether the tumor is a form of cancer or not.
Disclaimer: This HerHaleness article is for informative purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.