Here’s How Your Period Affects Your Boobs
As if you don’t have enough pesky symptoms to deal with around the time of your period — this phase can also entail some changes in your breasts that are downright painful. Rest assured that there are some ways to alleviate these issues. Still, you may be left wondering: “Why do my boobs hurt before my period?” In this guide, we’ve broken down the cause as well as some helpful tips on how to reduce discomfort.
Why do your breasts hurt before your period?
Throughout your menstrual cycle, your hormones — specifically, estrogen and progesterone — are continually fluctuating. And it’s worth noting that some women are more sensitive to these shifts than others.
In your premenstrual week, estrogen is particularly low. And research published in the journal Ethology and Sociobiology revealed that this can cause your boobs to looks less symmetrical. Don’t worry, though: they’ll even out again soon enough when your period arrives. If you’re feeling insecure about your lopsided bust, you can try wearing a molded bra to help sculpt them into looking more even.
In the couple weeks before your period, these hormones start steadily surging, stimulating connective tissue in the breasts. Estrogen enhances the elasticity of your skin, so a rise in this hormone can make your breasts look a tad perkier than normal (what’s not to love about some natural lift?). Progesterone also leads your milk glands to become enlarged. As a result, your boobs can start to feel swollen and tender. This effect is typically the strongest in the week leading up to your period. However, once your period finally comes, the level of those hormones decline. That meant that within a couple days, the swelling and tenderness should subside. In fact, toward the latter end of menstruation (somewhere between the 4th and 7th day, depending on your typical cycle length), your breasts will reach their lowest volume.
Your boobs also might feel a little lumpy, too. That’s because your milk glands are expanding to prep for potential pregnancy (and breastfeeding), resulting in a bumpy feel. Don’t fret, though: after the first few days of your period, your body recognizes you aren’t pregnant, and they’ll start to feel smooth again.
How to reduce breast pain before your period
Can’t deal with the tenderness, soreness, etc.? You shouldn’t have to. Luckily, there are plenty of research-backed strategies for preventing and even eliminating any pain (besides just popping an anti-inflammatory drug).
First of all, you’ll definitely want to make sure your bra fits properly. An ill-fitting bra will only exacerbate any discomfort (think: poking underwires, straps digging into your shoulders, a too-tight band, and cups that cut into your breast tissue). It’s a good idea to get fitted by a professional every six months or so, or if you’ve experienced any significant weight changes, to ensure you’re wearing the correct size. Some women may find wireless bras to be comfier when their breasts are feeling a tad tender.
Did you know that salt and caffeine both cause water retention? That means extra swollen breasts. So consider cutting down on both in the week or two leading up to your period.
Speaking of your diet, a study at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston determined that women who ate lots of whole grains, vegetables, and beans were able to excrete estrogen more efficiently as a result of consuming foods high in fiber. In turn, this means reduced PMS symptoms.
It’s also important to get enough vitamins B and C, calcium, and magnesium, as they all play a role in the production of prostaglandin E, a compound that controls the hormone which stimulates breast tissue (prolactin).
If you’re experiencing unusually extreme breast tenderness, soreness, swelling, or pain, or any other symptoms as well, such as lumps or nipple discharge, you may want to make an appointment to see your doctor just for added reassurance that there aren’t any other issues at hand. Also, it’s advisable to do a self-breast exam the week following your period just to make note of whether you feel any changes.
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