By Arielle EgoziMedically reviewed by Dr. Brandi Jones, DO
I don’t know about y’all, but I would not have expected my period to affect so many areas of my body seemingly unrelated to my uterus. Yup, I’m talking about my boobs. Every month, not only do they swell even bigger, but they also hurt. Not just regular hurt—I’m talkin’ severe throbbing, pain while walking, holding my sistas to my chest as I go down a single step kinda hurt—and it lasts for an entire week.
*Ouch*. Sound familiar?
Whether you have large or small breasts, many people with periods experience breast tenderness and soreness around the time their flow hits, and this curse has a name: cyclical mastalgia. Your hormones fluctuate before and during your period and that can cause a whole bunch of reactions (aka period skin, bloating, changes in temperament) — and breast soreness is one of them.
During the first two weeks of your (roughly) month-long cycle, your estrogen levels are higher, which can cause your breasts to temporarily grow. During the last two weeks of your cycle, your body has increased amounts of progesterone, which can cause your milk ducts to swell and pain to runneth over.
When this hormone cocktail hits, it can result in v sore and swollen breasts — sometimes even making them a little lumpy. If you’re like me, this experience is gnarly and uncomfortable (and literally ~very heavy~). It hurts to walk anywhere, and it feels like there’s a ticking time-bomb strapped to my chest that is *constantly* exploding. I love hugs, and I have to swat them away for a full week when this pain takes hold.
So, what can be done? Unfortunately, not that much (oh, menstruating bodies, you mystical, complex wonders). But these tips should help you manage the discomfort better and feel prepared next time tenderness starts to take over.
get a good bra
If your boobs spill over the cups when they swell — no bueno. Find a bra that actually fits and has lots of support (especially a sports bra for when you’re working out) to decrease movement and bounce.
rethink your snacking
Bye, bye caffeine! (That means coffee and chocolate, boos.) It can aggravate symptoms and lead to fluid retention, just like having too much salt in your diet. That said, some experts question the link caffeine intake has to breast tenderness, so if you simply *need* that cuppa’ joe — it’s not the end of the world. The most important thing is to stay hydrated to combat the negative effects of caffeine, so make sure you’re drinking lots of h2o.
yes, you should exercise
Moving your body, especially a week before your period, can really help. Even if it’s just taking a daily walk, going for a swim, or committing to an hour of yoga with a friend, your ta-tas will thank you (just remember to wear a supportive bra!!).
support with meds
Now, you know I gotta start this one with a health PSA: Talk to your doctor before adding any new vitamins or medications—natural or otherwise—to your diet. V important. Anti-inflammatory medications like Advil should do the trick, but if your symptoms are *really* bad, talking to your doctor about other treatment options, and other explanations for your pain, is the best bet.
Got any tips to help breast tenderness? Let me know in the comments below (plzzz…this stuff is painful!).