It’s called cyclical mastalgia, and it’s fancy Latin for breast soreness that’s related to menstruation. Like so many things, discomfort with period boobs is all about the hormones.
Period Boob Biology
In the first two weeks of your cycle, estrogen can make your breasts bigger. After ovulation, the second part of your cycle begins when progesterone starts to infiltrate your body. One of the lovely side effects of progesterone is that it causes the ducts in your breast to expand. And did I mention it causes increased water retention all over your body? Yeah, nice little bonus there. And there you have it—period boobs.
This can take place two weeks before your period or just a few days before or during your period. Also, don’t be surprised if they change from month to month, just like your period, one cycle can produce more progesterone than another cycle. Breasts can also swell to different sizes as well, leaving you feeling a little unsymmetrical. Nipples also tend to get a little tender. Every woman’s breast experience is unique however.
Tip to Reduce Discomfort
While it seems like the last think you might want to do, many women find comfort in wearing a very supportive bra. By decreasing jostling and bouncing, your breasts tend to hurt quite a bit less. Some women even sleep in their bra or a supportive sports bra during this time.
Popping an OTC pain reliever like Aleve or Motrin is a temporary fix that helps some women. I personally prefer a dose of a high-grade CBD oil (THC-free) to soften my soreness. Some doctors recommend evening primrose oil, vitamins E and B6, and reducing your caffeine intake. You might also try applying a warm compress to your breasts to increase blood flow and relieve muscle tension.
When to be Cautious
If your boobs are in pain after your period is over or only one boob hurts, then you should check in with your doctor. One-sided breast pain can be symptomatic of a cyst, lumps, or bruising. If you are having extreme pain in both breasts, see a doctor as well. If you have nipple discharge, a rash, or dimpling, you guessed it—get thee to a physician. And try not to panic. I know you are thinking you have breast cancer but the chance of that is very small. Just take a breath, schedule an appointment, and stay off WebMD.
If your period is late and you have intense boob pain and swelling you may be pregnant. Persistent breast pain is a common early sign of pregnancy.
If your breast soreness is normal but bothering you, be sure to bring it up at your next doctor’s visit. Together you’ll be able to find a way to have a more comfortable period.