For many women, breast pain hits them like clockwork – or at least as regularly as their menstrual periods. Doctors aren’t sure why it occurs. But a woman’s shifting levels of estrogen, progesterone, and prolactin may be accompanied by painful changes in the breasts. The breasts often retain fluids, causing them to swell. During the menstrual cycle the breasts add new cells to the milk-producing ducts and glands, which also make them, swell and get tender.
Since breast pain often occurs so regularly for so many years, many women simply resign themselves to feeling uncomfortable every month. But you don’t have to put up with tender breasts.
Here are some easy, effective strategies for keeping the discomfort under control.
Wear the right bra. The most effective way to control monthly breast pain is to wear a comfortable bra that provides good support. Doctors usually recommend that women wear a support bra rather than an underwire bra when their breasts are most tender. You may even want to wear the bra while you sleep. The bra should cup the breasts firmly, without binding or biting.
Try some cold comfort . You can take the same approach for tender breasts that you would for a sore back or a pulled shoulder muscle. Fill a plastic bag with ice cubes and wrap a towel around it. Then apply it to your tender areas for ten to fifteen minutes at a time. (You can also use commercial cold packs or the re-freezable packs that come with coolers). This will slow the flow of fluids to the breasts, which will help reduce the swelling.
Add more fiber to your diet . Research has shown that eating foods high in dietary fiber, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, can help lower the amount of estrogen circulating in the bloodstream. For many women, this can help control monthly breast pain.
Cut back on salt. When you get a lot of salt in your diet the body begins retaining fluids, causing the breasts to swell. Eating less salt when your period is approaching will help reduce swelling as well as tenderness.
Trim fat from your diet . A diet that’s high in fat isn’t only bad for your heart – it can increase breast pain as well. Experts believe that eating large amounts of fat can interfere with the production of chemicals in the body that are responsible for reducing breast pain. In addition, dietary fat has a way of turning into body fat, and fatty tissue has been shown to interfere with the body’s ability to regulate estrange. Doctors recommend getting no more than 20 to 25 per cent of your total daily calories from fat. The best way to reduce fat in your diet is to cut back on the worst offenders – high-fat foods such as mayonnaise, red meats, margarine, butter, ice cream, and cheeses.
Cut back on coffee. If coffee is your favorite eye-opener it may not be doing your breasts any good. There’s little scientific evidence that drinking coffee increases monthly breast pain, but many women have found that when they cut back on caffeine, the pain gets better.
Sip some herbal tea. As a substitute for coffee, you may want to try some uva ursi tea. Available in health food stores, this tea is a mild diuretic that can help ease breast pain by removing excess fluids from the body.Try to stay active. Exercising regularly has been shown to reduce the amount of fluids in the body which can be very helpful for easing breast pain. You don’t have to join a soccer team or run a marathon to get the benefits. Waling or riding a bike for twenty or thirty minutes there times a week, especially in the week before your period, can make a real difference in preventing (and relieving) breast pain.