The menstrual cycle can cause many symptoms, including sore breasts. Hormone fluctuations before a period can lead to breast tenderness or pain.
Doctors do not fully understand what causes these breast symptoms, but they know that specific hormones are involved.
People can take some measures to reduce breast discomfort. However, if their breast pain becomes severe or they have signs of a breast infection, they should seek medical attention.
What Causes Sore Breasts Before a Period?
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), hormone changes due to menstruation are the most common cause of breast pain.
A reduction in the levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone before a period can cause sore breasts. These changes can also cause lymph node swelling, which may contribute to breast pain too.
There may also be an association between breast pain and a hormone called prolactin. This hormone stimulates breast milk production in women following childbirth. It is present in the body of females, and it can affect the breasts even if a woman has not recently given birth.
Breast pain may also occur around the time of ovulation, which is when an ovary releases an egg for potential fertilization. It usually takes place 12 to 14 days before a person has their period.
However, hormones may not be the only cause of sore breasts before a period.
Some women report pain in only one breast. If hormones were the only underlying cause, some doctors believe that both breasts would respond the same way.
Therefore, it is possible that other changes in the body can cause breast pain around the time of menstruation. Another explanation is that the cells in each breast respond differently to fluctuating hormone levels.
The feeling of breast pain may differ from person to person. Some people describe the pain as soreness, while others are more likely to define it as achiness or tenderness.
Breast pain may:
- be dull
- occur in one or both breasts
- radiate to the underarms
- feel sharp at times
- occur alongside swelling
- feel more intense in the nipple area
Some people experience constant pain over several days, while others find that it comes and goes. Breast soreness may also make it uncomfortable to wear regular bras or tight clothing.