10 reasons your breasts are sore

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Sometimes your breasts may feel sore. Here are some of the reasons it might be happening.

It’s your period

Hormones like estrogen and progesterone fluctuate throughout the month, wreaking all sorts of havoc on your body and your brain. Estrogen and progesterone can actually increase the size and number of ducts and milk glands in your breasts. This causes the breasts to swell and retain water.

A few days before your period starts, both breasts can swell and become tender, painful, or even lumpy. You may also feel pain around your breasts, including the upper chest, outer sides of the breasts, the armpit, and the arm.

It’s the ill-fitting bra

If a bra is too big, too old, or too stretched out, it may not provide the support you need. When your breasts jostle around all day, they can easily get sore. You may also feel soreness in your back, neck, and shoulders.

Muscle strain

Simply working out your upper body too hard can affect the chest wall muscles that lie underneath your breasts. Wear a supportive sports bra when you work out. It could also be from an unintended injury or a heavy backpack. 

It’s your contraception

Hormonal birth control can cause changes in breast tissue by changing estrogen and progesterone levels during the menstrual cycle. These changes can change the size of your breasts, and make them feel tender or sore.

You’re taking hormones  

If you're on hormone replacement therapy, this could be a reason for breast tenderness. 

It could be pregnancy

The fluctuations of estrogen and progesterone that are preparing your breasts for milk production could cause tenderness. This can even happen as early as two weeks after conception. 

It’s from breastfeeding

Many mothers experience sore nipples when they start breastfeeding. An improper latch can cause a lot of pain, and it isn’t uncommon for nipples to become dry and cracked. You can develop lactation mastitis, breast engorgement, etc. Seek help from a lactation consultant if your nipples are sore or raw.

It’s from fibrocystic breasts

Many women with this type of breast tissue don’t experience any symptoms. If symptoms are present, they may include tenderness, pain, and lumpy texture. These symptoms often appear in the upper, outer area of the breasts. Your symptoms may worsen right before your period. 

It could be an infection

An infection of the breast tissue is called mastitis. Mastitis is most common among women who are breastfeeding, but it can happen to anyone. It typically affects only one breast. The infection is often accompanied by additional symptoms, such as swelling, burning, warmth, fever, or redness.  

It’s a cyst

Breast cysts are small sacs in the breast that fill with fluid. Cysts are soft, round, or oval lumps with easy-to-feel edges. Many women say they feel similar to a grape or water balloon, though they can sometimes feel hard.

You can have one cyst or several. They can appear in one breast or both. Many women with cysts don’t experience any symptoms, but you might feel pain and tenderness around the lump.

 If you begin experiencing severe symptoms with persistent pain, swelling, fever, unusual nipple discharge, burning, see your doctor ASAP.


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