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Breast Pain

Dolor en los senos (mastalgia) en Espanol

What is breast pain?

Breast pain (mastalgia) is a common type of discomfort among women, affecting as many as seven in 10 women at some point in their lives.

About 10 percent of women have moderate to severe breast pain more than five days a month. In some cases, severe breast pain lasts throughout the menstrual cycles.

The symptom occurs most frequently in young, premenopausal and perimenopausal women.

Breast pain alone rarely signifies breast cancer. Still, if you have unexplained breast pain that persists, get checked by your provider.

Causes of breast pain

Most of the time, it's not possible to identify the exact cause of breast pain. Likely contributors are hormonal changes, anatomical issues (breast trauma, prior breast surgery, or chest wall pain), breast size, and medication use (oral contraceptives, infertility treatments, estrogen/progesterone hormone therapy, and some antidepressants).

When to see a doctor about breast pain

Make an appointment with your doctor if you have breast pain that persists daily for more than a couple of weeks, if your breast pain seems to be getting worse over time, or if it interferes with daily activities. Also see your doctor if you have pain in one particular area within your breast.

Treatments and supplements for breast pain

  • Use hot or cold compresses on your breasts.
  • Wear a firm support bra, fitted by a professional if possible.
  • Wear a sports bra during exercise and while sleeping, especially when your breast may be more sensitive.
  • Limit or eliminate caffeine, a dietary change many women swear by.
  • Decrease the fat in your diet.
  • Use a pain reliever, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) to alleviate breast pain.
  • Keep a journal noting when you experience breast pain and other symptoms, to determine if your pain is cyclic.
  • Vitamin E. 400 IU up to three times a day can help with breast pain. Early studies showed a possible beneficial effect, though literature to date remains inconclusive. Many women have found it to be helpful.
  • Evening primrose oil; this supplement appears to change the balance of fatty acids in your cells, which may reduce breast pain. You can take a 1000 mg capsule up to three times a day.

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