An estimated 70% of women experience premenstrual breast soreness over the course of their lifetime. Also known as cyclical mastalgia or cyclical mastodynia, this symptom affects a vast array of women to a varying degree of severity. What's the deal with this?
Like with most aspects of menstruation, it all comes down to hormones. In the first half of a woman's menstrual cycle, the estrogen levels in the body rise, causing the breast ducts to enlarge. As the ovary releases an egg, the body produces an increased level of progesterone to thicken the uterine lining. This is the body's way of preparing for an egg to implant in the uterus as part of pregnancy. Progesterone also causes milk glands in the breasts to swell. Together, both estrogen and progesterone result in this common feeling of breast soreness.
In addition to general soreness, it's common for women to feel other symptoms in their breasts, especially just before menstruation begins. Breast tissue can become much denser during this period, resulting in a bumpy and cobblestone-like texture in the outer breast. Other women experience larger, non-cancerous lumps in the breast, a condition known as fibrocystic breast disease. Also common is just a general feeling of full, heavy breasts.
While it's a very typical pre-menstrual symptom, there's not much to do in terms of treatment. Most of the conditions listed above go away within a couple of days, once the period begins. Still, if you have any tips or if breast soreness is something you've experienced, feel free to let us know in the comments below.