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7 Ways To Treat Breast Pain During Menopause

Updated: Apr 18

Say goodbye to breast pain during menopause! Dive into our guide on 7 powerful strategies to reduce breast tenderness during menopause.


What is breast pain?


Menopausal breast discomfort, tenderness or pain during menopause is common, occuring in around 40 percent of women.  The medical term is mastalgia.


Breast pain is caused by significant hormone shifts that occur during perimenopause when ovarian hormone production is winding down.


These hormone changes change the breast tissue via mechanisms such as fluid retention and fibrocystic breast changes that contribute to breast pain.


Breast pain or discomfort can affect one or both breasts and is often cyclical breast pain - or breast pain that changes with your menstrual cycle.


As your cycle becomes more irregular, the breast pain can become less predictable with your cycle or persistant.



menopausal woman sitting in crop top

Managing Painful Breasts during Menopause


Painful breasts can interfere with your daily life and sometimes your sleep. Here are some helpful tips to support reduced breast pain and tenderness during perimenopause and menopause.


1. Help Out Your Boobs With A Supportive Bra


Wearing a well-fitted, supportive bra can significantly alleviate breast discomfort. A sports bra or a bra without underwire can offer more comfort, especially during periods of increased sensitivity.


Sleeping without a bra will reduce compression or irritation to breasts that may be tender due to hormonal changes and fluid retention.


2. Reduce That Caffeine Intake


Methylxanthines (caffeine, theophylline and theobromine) found in caffeinated drinks contribute to breast tenderness. A study that restricted caffeine intake in women with fibrocystic breast disease found:

  • 81 percent of women had reduced their caffeine intake substantially at 1 year

  • 61 percent of women who had reduced their caffeine intake reported a decrease or absence of breast pain.

You might want to have a trial elimination of caffeinated drinks/foods such as coffee, tea, cola, energy drinks and chocolate to see if this relieves your breast pain.


3. Ditch The Salt


Women with higher salt intakes are at higher risk of breast tenderness. Reducing you salt intake could help reduce fluid retention and breast pain.


Avoid adding salt to your cooking and at the table.


Salt is found in many processed foods, even sweet things like ketchup. Check the sodium content on processed foods and eat whole foods where you can.


4. Supplements For Breast Pain


Some women find relief from breast discomfort with supplements like vitamin E, Vitamin B6 or evening primrose oil.


A study comparing VItamin E 200 mg or vitamin B6 40 mg in women with cyclical breast pain, found that both were effective at reducing breast pain when taken over 2 cycles.


Evening primrose oil contains an essential fatty acid gamma- linolenic acid. It appears to reduce the effects of saturated fatty acids in the breasts that are associated with breast pain.


A study that investigated the use of evening primrose oil for breast pain found that using 1300 mg twice daily was more effective than acetaminophen/paracetamol.


5. Healthy Lifestyle Habits

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help manage menopausal symptoms, including breast discomfort.


A study investigating the impact of lifestyle on breast pain found the following lifestyle factors to be associated with breast tenderness:

  • consuming more fast food and desserts,

  • drinking more water

  • drinking more coffee,

  • exercising less.


A whole food diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds herbs, spices and whole grains, provide the body with phytochemicals including phytoestrogens such as isoflavones, stilbene, coumestan, and lignans.


These phytoestrogens support hormone balance in the body and have many health benefits.



Regular exercise supports production of natural endorphins that can reduce the experience of pain.


Higher consumption of water and caffeine are associated with more fluid retention. Higher water consumption is often connected to higher salt intake.


6. Hormone Replacement Therapy And Breast Pain


Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can reduce breast tenderness in some women and contribute to it in others. Getting the balance right can be tricky.


If you are using menopause hormone therapy, talk to your health provider if you think it could be contributing to your breast pain and they may have a better alternative dose or type.


If you are not using hormone replacement therapy, it may be something you'd like to consider trialling.


Use of HRT in post menopausal women does reduce breast pain in some women so having a trial could be something that would help you. 


Related:


7. Medications For Breast Pain


In some cases, over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen (paracetamol) can help manage breast pain. Some women find benefit from a topical gel - such as diclofenac gel.


For those with severe breast pain that does not resolve with the above strategies, they be prescribed medications such as tamoxifen or danazol to manage their symptoms.


Don't Forget to Regularly check your breasts


Women going through menopause should continue regular breast self-exams and mammograms as recommended by their healthcare provider. These practices can help detect any unusual changes in the breasts promptly.


When to Seek Medical Advice


While breast discomfort during menopause is common, certain signs warrant medical attention:


  • New lumps or changes in breast texture

  • Persistent breast pain or tenderness

  • Nipple discharge or changes in nipple appearance

While cyclical breast pain without any other breast changes is unlikely to be relating to breast cancer, if you would like Any concerning changes should be evaluated by a healthcare professional to rule out any underlying conditions that are not menopause related.


Conclusion


Breast pain during menopause is often a result of hormonal changes and can vary in intensity among women. Use our 7 easy steps to reduce your breast discomfort. Always seek medical advice for any concerning changes in breast health.


With proper care and attention, navigating through menopausal breast discomfort can be more manageable, allowing you to embrace menopause with confidence AND comfort.


_______

Dr Deborah Brunt is a women's health and menopause doctor in Dunedin, New Zealand and also provides menopause health coaching internationally to support optimal health habits for aging well so you can live your best life.


Book a consult with Dr Deb Brunt | Ōtepoti Integrative Health | Book Now

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References


Marsh MS, Whitcroft S, Whitehead MI. Paradoxical effects of hormone replacement therapy on breast tenderness in postmenopausal women. Maturitas. 1994 Aug;19(2):97-102. 


Russell LC. Caffeine restriction as initial treatment for breast pain. Nurse Pract. 1989 Feb;14(2):36-7, 40.


Shobeiri F, Oshvandi K, Nazari M. Clinical effectiveness of vitamin E and vitamin B6 for improving pain severity in cyclic mastalgia. Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res. 2015 Nov-Dec;20(6):723-7. 


Koçoğlu D, Kurşun S, Akın B, Altuntug K. Mastalgia and associated factors: a cross-sectional study. Agri. 2017 Jul;29(3):100-108.


Balci FL, Uras C, Feldman S. Clinical Factors Affecting the Therapeutic Efficacy of Evening Primrose Oil on Mastalgia. Ann Surg Oncol. 2020 Nov;27(12):4844-4852.

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