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Major 5 Causes Behind Your Breast Discomfort And Methods To Handle It

Commonly referred to as mastalgia, breast discomfort is a prevalent medical concern among individuals designated female at birth (AFAB). It impacts about two-thirds of AFAB individuals during their fertile years, particularly prevalent in those aged between 15 and 40. Mastalgia can manifest in various forms, such as weightiness, tautness, bloating, tenderness, sharp pains, or burning sensations.

Irrespective of how it manifests, persistent breast discomfort can impede your daily activities and well-being. It can also be distressing to deal with, as many AFAB individuals experiencing it may start wondering whether it could signal more serious medical issues, like breast cancer. It’s important to remember that pain, tenderness, or unease in one or both breasts doesn’t necessarily signal cancer.

There are various reasons an individual may undergo mastalgia. Here are five of the most common factors, along with tips on managing them:

Your Menstrual Cycle

Cyclic breast discomfort, associated with the menstrual cycle, is one of the primary types of mastalgia for AFAB individuals in their 20s and 30s, as well as those nearing menopause. If you feel a dull, burdensome sensation in both breasts, or notice lumpiness or swelling, your breast discomfort is likely cyclical. Occasionally, cyclical breast discomfort can radiate towards your armpits.

This form of mastalgia is usually linked to fluctuating hormone levels, particularly increases in estrogen and progesterone. For many individuals, these hormones start to rise roughly three to five days before their monthly period. This hormone escalation frequently results in breast swelling, tenderness, and soreness. Pregnant individuals might also experience persistent breast tenderness in the initial trimester, as hormone production tends to increase during this period.

Medical practitioners might recommend oral contraceptives for patients suffering from cyclical breast discomfort. If you’re already on oral contraceptives, your doctor may alter your dosage or try switching you to a different variant. Other measures to alleviate breast discomfort resulting from hormonal shifts include:

  • Reducing sodium intake
  • Adopting a low-fat diet temporarily
  • Avoiding smoking and alcohol consumption
  • Taking over-the-counter pain relievers

Ill-Fitted Or Unsuitable Bra

Without adequate support, the weight of your breasts can strain the ligaments connecting them to the chest wall, potentially leading to soreness and aches over time. This specific type of breast pain may be more noticeable towards the end of the day or during physical activity. In severe cases, the breasts’ weight can strain not only your chest but also your shoulders, neck, and back.

Naturally, the larger and heavier your breasts, the more essential it is to have proper support. Therefore, wear a correctly sized, sturdy bra to minimize strain on your chest. This will help prevent breast discomfort and other associated aches and pains in your upper body.

Regardless of your breast size, it’s crucial to find bras that fit comfortably. Tight bras with underwires often compress and irritate breast tissue, leading to mastalgia. You might notice that your bras feel less comfortable or tighter a few days before your period due to breast swelling induced by hormonal changes.

If your bras cause pain or discomfort at any point, it’s advisable to switch to wire-free alternatives in the right size. Additionally, wearing sports bras during physical exercise can be beneficial.

Certain Prescription Drugs

Mastalgia can sometimes arise as a side effect of several medications, including hormone therapies and drugs prescribed for hypertension and cardiac conditions. If you experience breast pain without an obvious cause, inform your doctor about the medications you’re taking for other health issues. They can determine if any of these medications may be contributing to the problem.

Breast Inflammations

Similar to other body parts, your breasts can become inflamed if exposed to harmful bacteria. This condition, medically known as mastitis, is most prevalent in breastfeeding women but can affect anyone.

Common mastitis symptoms include fever, pain, swelling, and redness in the affected breast. The breast skin may also become dry and flaky. Treatment typically involves antibiotics and pain relief until the infection subsides.

Breast Cysts

Breast cysts are tender, fluid-filled lumps that may develop due to fluid accumulation in breast tissue. The good news is that breast cysts usually aren’t painful and may not trouble you at all. However, some cysts can be uncomfortable or painful.

It’s best to have unusual breast lumps evaluated by a physician, whether or not they cause pain. Your doctor may diagnose a breast cyst by extracting fluid from the lump in your breast or by conducting breast imaging tests like mammograms or ultrasounds.

Most mastalgia cases are minor issues that are easily treatable. Nonetheless, if you experience persistent or severe breast pain or detect any breast lumps, it’s advisable to consult a doctor promptly. This way, you can address any potential serious health concerns for your peace of mind.

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