Breast pain is one of the most common symptoms experienced during the menstrual cycle—in fact, reports of sore breasts in the medical literature go back all the way to 1829! More recently, a study found that 69% of women attending an ob-gyn clinic had regular premenstrual breast pain. For some, the pain is so severe and lasts so long (at least seven days) that it’s referred to as cyclical mastalgia, which can interfere with sleep, work, school, social functioning, and sexual activity.
If you’re dealing with sore breasts every month, no matter what the severity, don’t worry! Though science isn’t entirely sure what causes it (most believe it’s related to the fluctuations of hormones), there are lots of things you can do to feel better right now.
- Make sure you’ve got a really supportive bra. It’s estimated that 80% of women wear bras that don’t fit right, so make sure you’ve got the right size and style for your body! You might also try wearing it at night for extra support.
- Take some time out. Relaxation techniques can do wonders to calm the nutty hormones behind sore breasts. Try soothing music or progressive muscle relaxation.
- Go herbal. You’ll want to talk to your doctor to be sure you cover all the angles, but herbs with anti-inflammatory elements--including the herbs in GirlUninterrupted!—have been shown to reduce breast soreness.
- Diet. Keep an eye on your salt and caffeine intake. If you can manage to completely avoid salt for 1-2 weeks before your period—or at least cut way down—you’re less likely to encounter the more annoying PMS and period symptoms. You’ll want to cut down on high-fat foods, too.
- Exercise. You’ve probably heard this before, but exercise really can help relieve PMS symptoms, especially sore breasts. And, of course, it’s good for you! Even if you’re not up for your usual routine, try to do a little something every day.
Of course there are medications you can take as well, both over the counter and prescription. But the first line of defense should be taking a stab at these natural (and mostly free!) options. Just a few small changes to your daily routine can make a world of difference in dealing with sore breasts, not to mention other PMS and period symptoms.