Sore Breasts After Period – What Does It Mean? (Extensive Guide)

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Sore Breasts After Period - What Does It Mean?
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While it’s common to have sore or tender breasts before or during the period, some women also have breast pain after their period ends. Sore breasts after your period are often caused by hormonal changes in your menstrual cycle. However, breast tenderness after your period could be a result of inflammation, injury to your breasts, or even chest pain that feels like sore breasts.

Many women who complain of breast pain after menstruation also have other symptoms. Many find that they also have painful nipples, larger breasts, or even a rash on their breast. Sore breasts 2 weeks after your period could be accompanied by ovulation discharge and slight cramping. Also, one of the symptoms of pregnancy after your period include breast tenderness.

In this article, I will look at the many reasons why breast pain can continue after your period. In some cases, home remedies can help to relieve the symptoms of sore breasts after menstruation. If breast pain continues, your doctor may advise on other ways to stop your breasts hurting after your period.

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Symptoms of Sore Breasts After Period

Breast pain is called mastalgia and can occur at any point during the menstrual cycle. Usually, sore, swollen breasts are a common symptom of pre-menstrual syndrome. But, many women also complain that their breasts are still sore after their period ends.

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that the pain from sore breasts can be mild to severe. The sharp breast pains or tenderness can continue throughout your menstrual cycle and can affect both breasts. Breast pain is usually divided into 2 categories – cyclic breast pain or non-cyclic.1

Cyclical breast pain and breast tenderness

Many symptoms of sore breasts before and after the period are connected to your menstrual cycle. Dr. Mary Harding on Patient.info says that cyclical breast pain can cause some of the following symptoms:2

  • Breast tenderness that starts just before your period and may end just after your period
  • Painful breasts that feel heavy and have dull aches
  • Breasts that feel lumpy just before your period
  • Pain in both breasts that usually starts about 2 weeks after your period and gradually gets worse

Non-cyclical breast pain

When breasts hurt after your period, it could be that the reasons are not connected with your cycle. Some of the symptoms of non-cyclical breast pain can include:

  • Pain that usually affects just one breast and feels like a burning sensation or tightness
  • Soreness in breasts that comes and goes or is constant
  • Breast tenderness that doesn’t change during your menstrual cycle

Causes of Sore Tender Breasts After Period

If you are wondering why you have sore breasts after your period, please read on to find out some of the possible reasons.

Hormonal imbalance

Hormonal imbalances are usually to blame for having tender breasts that become sore a week or two after your period.

According to Dr. Mehra Golshan from Harvard Medical School, one of the reasons for sore breasts is hormonal fluctuations. For most women, this results in mild pain in both breasts and tends to affect the upper outer quadrant of the breasts.3

Some other signs of a hormonal imbalance can include:

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  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Outbreaks of acne
  • Difficult losing weight
  • Increased anxiety and depression
  • Digestive upset and abdominal cramping

Your menstrual cycle is regulated by a delicate balance between progesterone and estrogen hormones. Too much or too little of either of these hormones can disrupt your menstrual cycle.

Ovulation breast pain

Depending on your menstrual cycle, you might have breast pain a week or 2 after menstruation when you ovulate. Breast pain is common among many women after ovulation and often causes mild aches in both breasts. Your breasts can continue to be sore after ovulation right up until the start of your next period.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins Medicine report that hormone-related breast pain can start around the time of ovulation. For some women, this means that breast pain can start as early as one week after their period. However, for most women, ovulation occurs about 14 days after the last period and may be accompanied by mild cramping and sore breasts.4

Other signs of ovulation can include:

The type of post-menstrual breast pain that ovulation causes can be hardly noticeable, or the breasts could be so painful and tender that they are sore to touch.

Keeping a menstrual cycle diary can help to determine if your breast pain is connected to your menstrual cycle and ovulation or not.

Contraceptive pill

Certain types of hormonal contraceptive pills can increase breast tenderness after your period or at other times in your menstrual cycle.

According to the journal American Family Physician, women who use contraceptive patches for birth control are at more risk of sore breasts during their cycle. In some cases, the use of combined oral contraceptives over time can actually help to treat sore breasts and stop breasts being so tender.5

Fibrocystic breast changes

Another reason for cyclical breast pain is fibrocystic breast condition. The most common symptoms of fibrocystic breast condition are lumpy breasts along with increased breast tenderness and pain.

Dr. Melissa Conrad Stöppler says that fibrocystic breast lumps can cause dull, heavy aches in the breasts. Your breasts may be sore and tender to touch and you might have tender and itchy nipples. Depending on the length of your cycle, your breasts may start to hurt about a week or so after your period. However, fibrocystic breast pain should disappear as soon as your period ends.6

At the end of this article, you can find some helpful home remedies to ease breast pain that is caused by fibrocystic breast changes.

Fatty acid imbalance

Another cause of breast tenderness that is indirectly associated with your period is an imbalance of fatty acids.

According to OB/GYN Dr. Nivin Todd, fatty acids that build up in your cells can affect the sensitivity of breast tissue. This causes your breast to become more sensitive to hormones that fluctuate during your cycle.7

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Dr. Todd recommends increasing the number of complex carbs in your diet as well as fiber. You should also cut down on fatty foods that could contribute to the fatty acid imbalance.

Mastitis

Infection of your breast tissue can cause sore breasts as well as breast swelling and a fever. Mastitis usually affects women who are breastfeeding because of clogged milk ducts that lead to breast infections.

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that this type of non-cyclical breast pain usually affects mothers in the first 12 weeks of breastfeeding. One or both breasts may appear red and inflamed and will be tender to touch. Breastfeeding mothers may also have sore nipples that appear cracked.8

Usually, doctors prescribe antibiotics to get rid of the infection and the breast pain.

Perimenopause

It’s not uncommon for women who are approaching the menopause to have sore breasts after their period. In the months before the menopause, menstrual cycles can become irregular and breast pain after periods can increase.

According to the Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research, women in the perimenopausal stage can experience increased breast pain and lumps in their breasts. Other symptoms associated with perimenopause can include any of the following:9

There are many natural supplements for the menopause that can help to lessen the discomfort that you may feel. You might also find that using essential oils can help deal better with symptoms of the menopause.

Injury to breasts

Injury can also cause breast pain, however, this won’t be connected to your periods or menstrual cycle.

Doctors from the National Health Service report that muscle or ligament injuries to your shoulder, neck, or back can radiate pain to your right or left breast. Usually, the breast pain should go away with plenty of rest and using natural remedies for muscle pain.10

Shingles

Another cause of sore breasts that can cause pain and breast tenderness during and after your period is shingles. Shingles is caused by the herpes zoster virus and results in a painful rash on one side of your upper body or a rash under your breasts.

Doctors from Harvard Medical School report that non-cyclical breast pain can be caused by shingles.11 You might also feel that your skin is itching and tingling before the rash develops. In time, the rash will start to blister and may cause shooting stabbing pains in your breast or side.12

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Using Manuka honey for its health benefits is a great way to get rid of shingles quickly and soothe the breast pain. You can also try lavender oil, geranium oil, or clove oil as some of the effective essential oils for shingles.

Costochondritis

Inflammation of your sternum (breastbone) is a condition called costochondritis that can make chest pain feel as if it comes from your breasts.

Doctors from Harvard Medical School say that costochondritis can cause a burning sensation in the breast.11 Many women say that the breast pain can come and go and may feel like sharp stabbing pains at times.

Very often, chest pains from costochondritis can feel like a heart attack. While you should never ignore any kind of chest pain or intense pressure in your chest, costochondritis usually goes away on its own without serious complications.

Medication side effect

Having sore breasts or sensitive nipples after your period or before your period could be a side effect of some medications.

According to Dr. Colin Tidy on Patient.info, some medication can aggravate symptoms of cyclical breast pain. Some of these include medication for high blood pressure, hormone replacement therapy, or antidepressants.13

If you think that medication is the reason your breasts are still sore after your period, you should speak with your doctor.

Can Breast Pain be a Symptom of Breast Cancer?

Many women are worried that one of the causes of breast tenderness could be breast cancer. However, it is rare that breast pain is a sign of cancer. Doctors from Harvard Medical School say that sore tender breasts are usually not connected with breast cancer.11

Most of the time, lump in the breast is a sign of a fibrocystic breast condition. Researchers from the American Cancer Society say you should always get new breast lumps checked out. Some signs of breast cancer can include:14

  • Redness and pain in the affected area of the breast
  • Nipple changes like a turned-in nipple or a red and/or scaly nipple.
  • Unusual discharge from the nipple

Sore Breasts a Week After Period

The reason for painful breasts a week after your period is often because of ovulation. According to the American Pregnancy Association, some women who have short menstrual cycles of around 21 days may ovulate just after their period. This can be accompanied by breast tenderness, increase in cervical mucus, ovulation cramping, and light spotting.14

Sore Breasts 2 Weeks After Period

There are a few possible reasons why your breasts hurt about 2 weeks after your period. For many women, ovulation takes place around this time, and breasts can start become larger, tender, and sore. For some women, the post-menstrual sore breasts at ovulation last until the next period.

Another reason why your nipples and breast start to hurt around 14 days after menstruation is because of pregnancy.

Could Sore Breasts and Breast Tenderness After Period Be a Sign of Pregnancy?

Sore breasts after your period could mean that you are pregnant because hormones in your body start to fluctuate.

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According to the American Pregnancy Association, one of the most common signs of early pregnancy is swollen or tender breasts. Changes to your breasts can happen soon after implantation and can sometimes be mistaken for premenstrual symptoms.15

Other signs that you could be pregnant can include:

  • Light cramping before you expect your next period
  • Light spotting which is known as implantation bleeding
  • Increase in vaginal discharge that lasts throughout your pregnancy
  • Frequent urination

Treatments for Sore Breasts After Period

Breast tenderness after your period and sensitive nipples after menstruation can cause a lot of discomfort. Let’s look at some natural ways of relieving breast discomfort.

Hot or cold compress

One way to relieve pain from sore aching breasts after your period is to apply a hot or cold compress.

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that applying a cold compress or a heating pad to your painful breasts can help to alleviate some of the discomfort.16

How to apply a cool compress for sore breasts:

  1. Take a bag of frozen peas or crush up ice and place in a sealable bag. This helps the cold pack to conform to the shape of your breast.
  2. Wrap the ice pack in a thin towel and place on the sore breast for 15 minutes.
  3. Apply 3 or 4 times a day to help treat sore tender breasts after your period.

If you have itchy or sore nipples after your period, then make a cold compress from a chamomile tea bag. Place the tea bag in a cup of boiling water for a minute, remove, and put in the refrigerator for an hour. Put the tea bag on your sensitive nipple for 10 minutes to help soothe the discomfort.

How to do heat therapy on sore breasts:

  1. Fill a hot water bottle with hot water and wrap in a dishcloth.
  2. Place on your sore breast to relieve the dull aches and a feeling of heaviness from your breasts.
  3. Leave for 15 minutes and repeat 2 or 3 times a day to relieve post menstrual breast pain.

Evening primrose oil

Taking evening primrose oil is a natural remedy for relieving breast pain after your period or before your period.

According to a study published in the journal Alternative Medicine Review, evening primrose oil and vitamin E can help to relieve cyclical breast pain. Researchers found that after 6 months, the symptoms of regular breast pain in women were greatly reduced.17

Dr. Colin Tidy on Patient.info says that the usual dose of evening primrose oil for cyclical breast pain is 120-160 mg twice a day. It will usually take at least 4 months of taking evening primrose oil to see any effect on reducing the severity of your breast pain.13

Change your diet

Sometimes, changing your diet can help to reduce symptoms of painful breasts after menstruation.

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic suggest switching to a low-fat diet to help reduce the amount of fatty acids in your body. Also, cutting out caffeine has helped some women stop having sore breasts after their period.16

Wear well-supporting bra

If you get sore breasts a week or 2 weeks after your period, you may find that wearing a well-supporting bra can relieve breast pain. Some doctors recommend wearing a bra day and night to help you sleep better.13

When to See a Doctor

Although breast pain can cause you to have very sore breasts at a different time during your menstrual cycle, it is rarely a sign of a serious condition. Doctors from the Cleveland Clinic say that pain in both breasts at the same time is rarely a sign of breast cancer.18

However, in some cases, you need to see a doctor for breast pain. Some of the breast pain symptoms that you should discuss with your doctor include:

  • Pain in one breast that is localized to a specific point.
  • You have a new lump in your breast that may or may not be painful.
  • Visible changes to one or both of your nipples or changes to the skin on your breast.

Read my other related articles:

Medical References

  1. MayoClinic. Breast pain.
  2. PatientInfo. Breast pain.
  3. UpToDate. Breast pain.
  4. HopkinsMedicine. Breast pain (mastalgia).
  5. Am Fam Physician.2010 Dec 15;82(12):1499-1506
  6. MedicineNet. Fibrocystic breast condition.
  7. WebMD. How can you tell if you have fatty acid imbalance relative to breast pain?
  8. MayoClinic. Mastitis.
  9. CEMCOR. Perimenopause.
  10. NHS. Breast pain.
  11. HealthHarvard. Breast pain: not just a premenopausal complaint.
  12. WebMD. Shingles: causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment.
  13. PatientInfo. Breast pain.
  14. AmericanPregnancy. Ovulation.
  15. AmericanPregnancy. Pregnancy symptoms. Early signs of pregnancy.
  16. MayoClinic. Breast pain. Diagnosis and treatment.
  17. Altern Med Rev.2010 Apr;15(1):59-67.
  18. ClevelandClinic. If you have breast pain
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