My breasts are sore after menstruation, could I be pregnant? What does it mean especially when accompanied by cramps?
Most women experience breast tenderness or soreness during early pregnancy or as a premenstrual symptom. This is the reason many find it confusing and worrying when they experience sore breasts after period ends.
Even though mastalgia affects every woman at some point in a lifetime, most experience cyclical breast tenderness which is part of the menstrual cycle during ovulation.
However non-cyclical breast pain is not associated with any factor in the woman’s cycle. Its causes are much different.
There are several causes of breast tenderness and soreness after period. Women who are on birth control such as Minera IUD, some pills, and even contraceptive shots can experience sore breasts.
In others, the cause could be an illness showing its symptoms or even PMS symptoms carrying over to a day or two
1. Hormonal imbalance
The menstrual cycle brings about all sorts of hormonal changes in the body. During the luteal phase, a week before your period, estrogen and progesterone levels rise remarkably.
The elevation of these hormones causes the uterine lining to thicken in preparation for implantation.
Higher levels of progesterone cause muscle relaxation, hence sluggish movement of blood and fluids in the body.
- For this reason, fluid is stored in the breast leading to tissue getting stretched and swollen.
- Besides, breasts are comprised of hormone receptors that make them very sensitive in return.
- These hormonal-triggered symptoms usually appear right before period and 3-4 days after your period.
2. Post menstrual syndrome
This is a group of symptoms experienced by women just after their period. They are similar to those of premenstrual syndrome. They include the following:
- Mood swings fever
- Lower abdominal pain
Sore and tender boobs are also registered in some women before menstruation. This symptom can also extend and occur 1, 2 days after period is over.
This is a condition in which the breast becomes exceedingly painful and inflamed. Mastitis mostly occurs a sign of an acute or chronic breast infection. However breastfeeding mothers might also experience this condition as a result of milk build up in the breast tissues.
- If there is not an early intervention of breast mastitis, majority of women might end up giving up breastfeeding, which is most likely to lead to major infections and discomfort.
Apart from hot flashes and vaginal dryness, breast soreness is another symptom associated with hormonal changes in the woman’s reproductive system.
During perimenopause, a woman sex hormones decrease gradually marking entry into the menopause period. This period might last up to 10 years before the menstruation stops.
5. Contraceptive pills
Birth control pills contain estrogen and progesterone. Women using this type of contraception to avoid pregnancy are at a higher risk of experiencing breast pain than those who use other family planning methods.
Your body might seemingly find it difficult to adjust to the new levels of hormones contained in the contraceptives.
However, after 3 months, your body will have adjusted to the hormonal levels, and the regular episodes of breast pain might disappear.
6. Fibrocystic breast changes
This is a condition where by the woman’s boobs feel lumpy before and after their period. These breast changes are normal, it does not signal of any impending danger sign.
However, it causes a lot of worry to women and maybe a discomfort to many experiencing it.
Cortisol is a hormone associated with stress episodes. It affects other hormone levels in the body leading to breast pain, tenderness, and inflammation. It is important that you learn to cope with stress because it could be the main reason as to why you are experiencing breast soreness.
- Excessive caffeine intake has also been associated with cortisol increase. The recommended amount of caffeine in a day is two cups (200grams).
Could I be pregnant?
Rarely is a woman on her period while pregnant. Some women might experience what is called spotting, while pregnant.
Spotting is bleeding that usually occurs as a result of hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy. The bleeding is lighter than your period and lasts 1-3 days.
Breast soreness is an early sign of pregnancy, however, you cannot rely on this symptom alone to confirm pregnancy, take a home pregnancy test to relieve your anxiety.
If you are still worried and anxious, visit your doctor to examine your boobs and carry out tests to define the cause of the problem.
2 weeks after
Breast pain or tenderness two weeks after the period is a definite sign of ovulation. Normally ovulation occurs from the 12-16th day after the first day of your last period.
Ovulation causes the levels of estrogen to rise, making the breasts appear fuller and inflamed. Milk ducts might also enlarge in the course leading to soreness during ovulation.
Soreness 7 days later
Breast pain or tenderness 7 days after period could signal pregnancy or start of ovulation. If you experience spotting at this period, then you could be pregnant.
But in case you had your normal regular period, start of ovulation may cause you to have breast soreness 7 days after your period.
When with cramps
Cramps are usually experienced a day or two before and during a woman’s period. In some few cases, this pain could last seven days after your period is over. Cramping usually feels like pulling and surging around the abdominal region.
- Cramps after your period as a result of hormonal changes could be mild moderate or severe. This sort of cramping does not last long, just 1-2 days and you will be ok.
Research has also associated cramps after a period, to ovulation. Mittelschmerz is a term used to refer to the abdominal pain felt during the release of an egg from the ovaries.
There is usually a sharp continuous pain, especially in the lower abdomen. Mittelschmerz cramping is usually intense in the mornings and lasts not more than 6 days.
Another reason why you could be experiencing cramping after period is that you might be pregnant. Implantation cramping occurs as a result of an egg attachment to the uterine lining. This pain is usually experienced almost the same time that you could be experiencing your premenstrual symptoms.
- There is always likelihood that implantation cramping will be mistaken for something else besides pregnancy because of its timing in the menstrual cycle.
Bloating during period is usually as a result of hormonal rise and fall. The body retains water with rise in estrogen.
For this reason, you are likely to be experiencing bloating days before period and a few more after period. In a similar way, sore breast occurs as a result of continuous hormonal fluctuation in the menstrual cycle.
Treatment of breast soreness is in several dimensions. Here are both conventional and supportive treatments available to alleviate breast soreness fast:
- Pain relieving medications
Your doctor is likely to prescribe you medications such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, to help cure breast pain. You can also get these drugs as an over the counter medications from the nearest store.
- Non-steroidal creams
These types of medications relieve pain and inflammation of the breasts. Creams are usually applied in the morning and evening after taking a bath.
- Get proper breast support
A well-fitted bra will certainly help keep your breast less mobile thus alleviate pain. When experiencing breast soreness, it is important that you avoid underwire bras, cotton sports bras are highly recommended especially when going out for exercising.
Natural treatments are also effective when dealing with breast soreness. Here are the top five remedies that could cure breast pain fast:
Dandelion is widely known for its diuretic properties. It can flush out excess body fluids hence reducing swelling remarkably. It also contains potassium, making it a good smooth muscle relaxer. Here is how to reduce breast soreness using dandelion:
- Boil one cup of dried dandelion in a cup of water for about 10 minutes.
- Strain and add honey to the mixture
- Preserve and drink up to 4 cups of this natural treatment in a day, to cure breast pain fast.
Alternatively, you can talk to your doctor about taking this remedy in a supplement form.
- This remedy works best when taken 3-4 days before period. It will help get rid of breast pain even after menstruation.
Chasteberry is a powerful remedy against mastalgia and other related premenstrual symptoms. It also acts on the pituitary gland to reduce the amount of hormone prolactin, which is responsible for post menstrual symptoms such as breast tenderness.
- Add the recommended 20mg dose into warm water
- Cover for about 20 minutes and take a glass
- Continue taking two glasses of this natural treatment twice in a day for better results.
Alternatively, you can consume this remedy in powder form as a seasoning. Seek your doctor’s advice in case you prefer taking chasteberry supplements.
- Castor oil
Castor oil is rich in ricinoleic acid. This acid contains both anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving compounds. When used as massage oil, it increases circulation releasing toxins from the body.
- Add tablespoon of castor oil with 3 tablespoons to olive oil
- Use the mixture to massage your breasts gently in circular motion
- Repeat this remedy twice daily a week before your period.
- Evening primrose oil
Evening primrose oil is an ancient remedy used to get rid of breast pain. It contains gamolenic acid that helps the body balance its hormones, hence curing breast tenderness.
- Take a tablespoon of primrose oil and apply on the breast tissue and massage for a few minutes
- Repeat this procedure twice daily after period to help prevent breast tenderness.
Another option is to take is to take 500mg of evening primrose oil supplement for about 4 months, after asking advice from your doctor. Again, even though primrose is a good breast pain remedy, you should not use it if you are trying to get pregnant, because it will lead to hormonal alterations.
- Ice packs
An ice pack will cause relaxation of the breast nerves hence reducing the pain. Here is how to use ice packs to get rid of breast soreness.
- Place two medium pieces of ice cubes in a towel and wrap it
- Apply the ice cube to each breast for 20 minutes
- For best results repeat this procedure twice daily to help cure breast tenderness
How to relieve sore breasts after period
Breast tenderness is likely to go away a few days after your period. However, that should not mean that you should wallow in pain. Here is what to do to relieve breast soreness:
- Get a sleep bra. A sleep bra is made of supportive cotton that will hold your breast in place at night. It supports the breast relieving you of pain.
- Take a lot of water. Water is essential in flushing out toxins and excess hormones from the body. You can add ginger garlic to your water to help regulate your hormones accordingly.
- Reduce salt intake, Salt has the ability to hinder your body from excreating water. Because breast tenderness after period is mostly associated with fluid retention, you should keep your salt intake at minimum to keep your breast away from swelling.
- Increase your intake of vitamins minerals and other essential nutrients to help the body flush out toxins. Green vegetables and legumes will help balance your hormones hence relieving you from breast pain associated with menstrual cycle.
- Take a warm bath. It is one of the best ways in which you could sooth your breast tissues. Alternatively, you can let the warm steam heat your breast from the shower above.
- Minimize touching your breasts. It is important to speak to your partner about your breast pain so that they can be gentle in instances where they do so.
When to see a doctor
In most incidences breast pain is not to worry about, it is usually as a result of changes occurring in the body. However, you should immediately see your doctor if you experience the following:
- Lump associated with mild or intense pain after period
- Unexplained Persistent breast soreness
- Pus, discharge from the nipple
- Blood discharge from the nipple
- Breast redness, warmth, and generalized body fever
SOURCES AND REFERENCES
- Fibrocystic breasts (March 2017): http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/fibrocystic-breasts/home/ovc-20194898
- Breast disorders and breast screening (October 2014): http://www.clevelandclinicmeded.com/medicalpubs/diseasemanagement/womens-health/breast-disorders-and-cancer-screening/