Sly Sources of Breast Pain

As women, we’ve all dealt with tender breasts at one time or another. From a breast that is sensitive to pressure, to a set that screams “off limits” to your partner—breast pain can get in the way from everyday life (i.e., intimacy to workouts). Here are six common yet sly sources of breast pain…

1. You Drink Too Much Caffeine

While your caffeine consumption isn’t a surefire reason for breast pain, research published by the National Institutes of Health draws a correlation between caffeine restriction and a significant decrease in breast pain for women with fibrocystic (or lumpy) breast tissue.

The study monitored a group of 113 female patients with fibrocystic disease who reported temporary bouts of mild, moderate, or severe breast pain, and asked them to restrict all caffeinated consumption (i.e., coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks, chocolate) for one year. Findings revealed that after a 1-year duration of caffeine abstinence, 61-percent of participants reported a decrease in or no breast pain.

2. You’re Lacking Support

Gynecologists at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in New York, point to two rather large sources of breast pain—your girls are lacking adequate support! If you have large, heavy breasts, wearing a properly fitted bra will reduce breast bouncing and movement.

Basically, gravity is not your friend—meaning walking, standing, running, and climbing stairs without proper support will inevitably lead to breast and back pain. So go for a professional bra fitting and spend the money on an appropriately fitted bra that reduces bounce while showing proper support for your sisters.

3. Ill Fitted Bra

Similar to a bra that lacks support, a bra that’s too snug, too loose, too small, or too big will cause breast pain. Do like Goldilocks, and seek out a bra that’s, “just right”. Do this by popping into a lingerie store and getting a professional bra sizing.

Wearing the correctly sized bra will reduce up and down bouncing, breast tissue pulling, dents and pressure on your shoulders and back, which can all lead to undue breast, neck, shoulder, and back pain.

4. Blame it on PMS

Hormones can be an unpredictable roller coaster of mood swings, food cravings, and breast pain. Temporary bouts of breast pain, particularly prior to and during your period are normally due to changes in estrogen levels, according to research from the National Institutes of Health.

A surge in estrogen hormones before or during your time of the month can result in breast tenderness (cyclic pain) directly connected to the menstrual cycle. Thankfully, cyclic pain typically disappears when your period is over. If breast pain is severe, talk to your doctor about birth control pills, which can help stabilize estrogen levels.

5. Stiff Chest Muscles

Did you rake over the weekend? Shovel snow last night? Or perhaps you pulled off an impressive amount of planks or push ups at the gym yesterday—if so, that pain you’re feeling may be due to sore chest muscles underneath your breasts.

The pectoral muscles sit directly under your breasts and working these muscles—be it through any series of contraction and relaxation—can result in muscle stiffness and tenderness. To soothe pectoral muscle pain, take a hot bath immersing the area in warm water and pop an over-the-counter Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) as a pain reliever (i.e., Advil, ibuprofen, Motrin, or Aleve), according to WebMD.

6. You Have a Cyst

Just as women with lumpy breast tissue (or fibrocystic breast tissue) are prone to bouts of breast soreness and tenderness tied to their menstrual cycles—they are also prone to developing cysts!

Research from the National Breast Cancer Foundation claims that women with fibrocystic breast tissue (lumpy, heavy, and/or uneven breast tissue) risk a higher incidence of developing fluid-filled cysts. Not to worry, a cyst isn’t always indicative of breast cancer. That being said; your doctor should examine any lumps or changes in breast tissue immediately.


Emily Lockhart

Emily Lockhart is a certified yoga instructor and personal trainer. She believes that being healthy is a lifestyle choice, not a punishment or temporary fix to attain a desired fitness or body image goal. Anna helps her clients take responsibility for their own health and wellness through her classes and articles on ActiveBeat.