By Dr Vincent Karuhanga
About 10 days before my period, I get breast pain. However, this never used to happen and I am worried I might have cancer. A breast scan gave me a clean bill of health. What could be the problem?
The hormones that bring on periods (oestrogen and progesterone) are also important in preparing breasts for breastfeeding after delivery.
The feeling of breast pain therefore comes from the inner breast tissues enlarging to prepare for breast feeding and this starts in earnest around the time of ovulation.
In case you get pregnant, the hormones continue to rise and prepare the breasts leading to breast and nipple pain during the period.
If you do not get pregnant, then the hormones will go down causing a reduction in the pain.
However, the same will return usually as an indication that your next period is near. Sometimes, breast pain may come as part of other symptoms largely known as premenstrual tension syndrome (PMS) that may include mood changes and menstruation related headaches.
Although any woman can get breast pain during their period, it is common in those approaching menopause. Therefore, any woman who may not have experienced breast pain before can get it as she gets older.
Many women live in fear of having breast cancer when they experience breast pain but this pain is largely not associated with cancer even when the pain may be associated with breast lumps.
Harmless or benign breast lumps including fibrocystic breast disease or fibroadenomas may also exhibit menstruation related breast pains.
Wearing a properly fitting support bra, putting hot or cold packs when the pain seems unbearable, taking over the counter painkillers, taking lots of water while limiting salt intake, cutting weight, eating a high-fibre, low-fat diet, increasing on physical exercise and sleep hours may all cut down on breast pain.
Also, much as your breast pain may be harmless, please visit your doctor for better diagnosis and advice.