Why Are My Breasts Tender? --
Causes and Top 7 Natural Remedies

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Last updated October 17, 2017, originally published May 30, 2014
By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

[Health and fitness articles are reviewed by our team of Registered
Nurses, Certified fitness trainers and other members of our Editorial

Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman – spending half your
time with tender breasts. Many women suffer from the
discomfort and pain of breast tenderness, also called

Breast tenderness may be a regular fixture in your life, it
may crop up on an irregular basis, or may come and go with
your monthly cycle. Whenever breast tenderness occurs,
you feel uncomfortable and miserable. What exactly causes
your breasts to feel this way? Is there anything you can do
to ease breast tenderness?

How Many Women Suffer From Breast Tenderness?

Finding out how many women have this problem is difficult
since most do not visit their doctor or another expert for
advice. A 1989 survey published in the World Journal of
Surgery reported that 45 percent of working women had
mild symptoms of breast tenderness, while 21 percent had
severe breast pain.

But here's the startling truth. Breast pain is the most
common reason women visit their doctors for their breasts.
And a 1999 study by Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and
Harvard Medical School, Boston showed breast pain was the
most common reason for breast-related doctor visits in
women aged 40 to 69.

What Does Breast Tenderness Feel Like?

Breast tenderness runs the gamut from mild feelings of
discomfort to sharp, disabling pain. Your breasts may feel
full and heavy and it can be uncomfortable to wear a bra or
sleep on your stomach or side.

You could experience a tingling pain that radiates towards
your armpit. Breast tenderness also goes alongside swelling
and lumpiness.

Breast pain is normally associated with your
period and
hormone changes, or the pain may be unrelated to the
monthly cycle.

Here are the seven reasons for breast tenderness, and some
advice about what to do to treat breast pain and discomfort.

Top 7 Causes and Remedies for Breast Tenderness

1. Breast Tenderness is Caused by Monthly Hormone

The most common reason for breast tenderness is your
period. The monthly changes in hormones cause pain in
both breasts, which is often described as a soreness or
heaviness that also affects the armpit and arm. Breast
tenderness is normally most severe before your period, as
part of the condition called premenstrual syndrome.
Usually, as soon as your period ends your breasts go back
to normal.

magnesium has been shown to relieve breast
tenderness associated with your period.

Take a magnesium supplement around two weeks before
your period starts up until your period starts – a  1998
study from the University of Reading, UK shows this
strategy is effective.


In general, you should make sure that you have adequate
magnesium levels by including foods rich in magnesium in
your diet.

Almonds contain 80 mg of magnesium per ounce(about
25% of the 320 mg per day recommended for women over
the age of 31 by the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
developed by the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) at the
Institute of Medicine of the National Academies; the same
Board recommends 420 mg over day for men over the age
of 31.)  Cashews contain almost as much magnesium as
almonds, about 75 mg per ounce.]

A Cyst may be the Cause of Breast Tenderness

When breast tenderness is not caused by monthly hormonal
changes it is called "noncyclic pain". This type of pain is
often described as a burning pain in one particular area of
the breast and doesn’t change throughout the month.

Noncyclic pain may be caused by fibrocystic breast disease
(benign breast changes) or a cyst. These changes in the
breast are not fully understood but many experts believe
they are hormonal since pain usually decreases once
menopause is reached.

A 2002 study from Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Perth,
Australia showed that red clover isoflavones might reduce
breast tenderness associated with hormonal changes. (Read
more about a
diet that reduces fibroid tumors.)

Medications Can Cause Breast Tenderness

Breast tenderness may get worse when you change
medications – certain cardiovascular and psychiatric
medications can cause breast pain.

But, some herbs can help. Studies have shown that taking
gingko supplements can relieve symptoms of breast
tenderness – a 1993 study from Boucicaut Hospital, Paris,
France demonstrated that 80mg of gingko extract taken on
day 16 through day 5 of the cycle successfully treated
breast tenderness in 143 women experiencing premenstrual

Too Much Fat Causes Breast Tenderness?

Some studies show that a diet high in saturated fat can
contribute to breast tenderness. Saturated fat is fat that is
solid at room temperatures, such as butter and animal lard.

Other experts link an imbalance of essential fatty acids to
breast tenderness- some say that evening primrose oil,
which is high in omega-6 fatty acids, makes a difference to
breast tenderness.

The evidence for this claim is not particularly forthcoming,
although papers including “A controlled trial of evening
primrose oil (Efamol) in cyclic premenstrual mastalgia”
presented at the 2nd International Symposium on
Premenstrual, Postpartum, and Menopausal Mood Disorders,
1987 show the supplement is effective.

Caffeine and Breast Tenderness

Some women experience a lessening of breast tenderness
when they reduce the amount of caffeine in their diet.

However, as with the discussion on evening primrose oil and
fatty acids, the evidence for dietary changes affecting breast
tenderness symptoms is light, according to a 2000 study
from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle.

You might want to try cutting down on caffeine --think
coffee, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, 7-Up, some teas, etc --- to see if it
makes a difference to your symptoms.

You are more likely to experience breast pain after
consuming coffee if you are not usually a coffee drinker,
based on the personal experience of one of our editors.]

Breast Pain Caused by High Levels of Prolactin

The hormone prolactin may be involved in breast pain and
tenderness – experts link high levels of prolactin with breast
tenderness that occurs on a monthly basis.

The herb chasteberry is said to relieve symptoms, based on
its ability to suppress the release of prolactin. A 1999 study
from the Charles University of Prague shows that
chasteberry reduces breast tenderness associated with PMS.

Does Breast Tenderness Mean Breast Cancer?

If you experience breast tenderness one of the most
common fears is breast cancer. But breast pain and
tenderness is not a common symptom of cancer.

According to a 1998 study by Kennemer Gasthuis Locatie
Elisabeth Gasthuis, Netherlands, in 86.5 percent of
radiological examination for breast pain there were no
malignancies, in 8.6 percent of cases there were benign
abnormalities, and in 0.4 percent of cases there was a
malignancy. However, if breast pain doesn’t change
throughout the month and is located in one area of the
breast then it is worth getting it checked out by a doctor.


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