Painful Breasts After Period? – Breast Soreness Explained

It’s bad enough that most women experience pain before and during their periods, but now there’s a chance we might endure more agony after it ends? Is it possible that having painful or sore breasts “post-bleed” is related to PMS somehow? 

Let’s take a look at Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) more closely. PMS is a combination of symptoms that 30-40% of reproductive women experience up to 2 weeks before their period. Aside from mood swings, food cravings, fatigue, irritability, and depression, PMS also cause breast pain which is common for 70% of the reproductive female population. 

Supposedly, breast pain should go away shortly after the period begins, but for some, the pain lingers. You might think this is normal. While there’s a good probability that it is, there does come a time when it requires more attention. 

No matter how common it is, pain associated with menstruation, or in this case, after menstruation, is not something you have to accept. It doesn’t have to be this way forever. You deserve better. In this blog, we’ll talk about the possible causes of “post-period” breast soreness and discuss what you can do about it. 

Cyclic vs. Non-Cyclic Breast Pain

Even without pain, one crucial symptom you should watch out for is when you feel a lump on your breast area or even on your underarm.

Breast pain (also called mastalgia) is a known condition among women. Generally, it can be categorized into cyclical, non-cyclical, and extramammary

 

Cyclical Breast Pain 

It’s cyclical if your period is the reason for your breast pain. 

This is because your estrogen and progesterone levels rise to prepare your body for possible pregnancy and when that doesn’t happen, the levels fall to prepare for menstruation. Hormonal fluctuations like this make the breast tissue sensitive, causing pain before and (might extend a few days) after your period starts. 

Here are signs that your breast pain is cyclical & is not very serious: 

  • When it occurs just a few weeks before menstruation.
  • When the pain occurs as often and around the same time as your menstruation.
  • When the tenderness / swelling / soreness / lumpiness happen to both of your breasts.
  • When the pain sometimes spreads up to your underarm.
  • When you’re experiencing this at a young age. (not yet menopausal)

 

Non-Cyclical Breast Pain 

It’s non-cyclical if your period is not the reason for your breast pain (and it’s not linked to neoplastic, inflammatory, or vascular disease). 

Meaning, the pain doesn’t follow a pattern. It can happen whether you’re on your period or not, and it could be constant or intermittent, but the pain still originates inside your breasts. 

 

Extramammary Breast Pain

It’s extramammary if your period is not the reason for your breast pain… but it doesn’t start in your breast tissue (even if it feels like it does).

Truth is, there are different reasons why your breast might hurt. Some are due to mild problems while others need urgent medical attention. 

Why Are My Boobs Sore Even After My Period? (Causes)

Pregnancy

Sore breasts are one of the earliest signs of pregnancy. 

Usually, your breasts feel tender, fuller, and heavier in the first 4 to 6 weeks after you’ve conceived.

This feeling may last through your first trimester; although the pain may resurface at any stage of pregnancy and during breastfeeding. 

By itself, breast pain can easily be mistaken for another condition.

Sore breasts are one of the earliest signs of pregnancy. 

Also, if you’re pregnant, you most likely have other symptoms:

    • Missed period – Some women will experience light bleeding (i.e. spotting) which can be confused as an actual period.

    • Nausea or vomiting – also called “morning sickness” accompanied by a loss of appetite.

    • Fatigue or exhaustion – due to the increase of progesterone, your metabolism slows down, causing tiredness especially if you have an iron deficiency.

    • Frequent urination (especially at night) – your bladder can feel full when your uterus swells, causing frequent urination.

    • Food cravings – although it’s common to develop a strong liking for certain foods and smells, consult your doctor if you’re having the urge to eat inedible items.

    • Increased vaginal discharge – increased hormones and vaginal blood flow causes a sticky, white, or pale-yellow discharge at the onset of pregnancy.

    • Constipation or indigestion – occurs because higher hormonal levels slow down digestion.

    • Mood swings – hormonal changes can also cause your emotions to fluctuate.

    • Leg oedema (swelling) or varicose veins – the pressure from your growing womb affects the lower part of your body, building up fluid in your legs, ankles, and feet.

    • Breathlessness (sometimes with palpitations) – higher progesterone levels will cause you to breathe more often, which might feel like you’re running out of breath.

Medications

Breast pain can also be a side effect of medicines used for reproductive or mental health conditions including: 

  • Birth control pills
  • Some antibiotics
  • Antidepressants
  • Hormone treatments & replacement therapy
Certain medications can also cause side effects, including sore breasts.

However, this doesn’t mean you should take pain relievers or stop taking your prescribed medicines! That won’t guarantee healing and might cause more complications. The first thing to do at times like these is to discuss your symptoms with your healthcare provider. 

 

Breast or Muscle Injury

Like any injuries or trauma, your breast might feel painful after an impact from a physical activity, an accident, or a medical procedure such as surgery on or near your chest, arm, or shoulder. 

Along with this, it’s also possible that you have bruises, bleeding, and lumps on your breasts. In this case, cold or hot compresses could help with bruises, otherwise, you may want to consult your doctor about other options to alleviate discomfort. 

 

Mastitis

Breast tissue inflammation (mastitis) is a non-cancerous infection that causes one breast to become swollen, red, or inflamed and mostly affects breastfeeding women. 

The main cause of this condition is a clogged milk duct or bacteria that’s entered the breast. 

Other symptoms of Mastitis include: 

  • Warm breasts (when touched)
  • Fever and other flu-like symptoms
  • Burning pain on the breast while lactating
  • Breast lump

If you have sore or cracked nipples, an ill-fitted bra, an improper nursing technique, an unhealthy diet, or have been smoking, this might increase your risk of developing Mastitis. 

 

Thrush

Thrush is a painful fungal infection caused by an organism called Candida albicans.

This can occur on any part of the body but for Breast and Nipple Thrush (BNT), the pain might become unbearable enough to cause early weaning. 

For breastfeeding mothers, thrush (Candida albicans) can be passed to the baby orally.

Your doctor might suggest an antifungal cream to get rid of the infection which might take a week for the thrush to disappear.

But if your baby catches the infection during breastfeeding (oral thrush), both you and your child have to be treated simultaneously. 

 

Breast Cyst 

A breast cyst is a common condition that is more prone to women in their 30’s to 50’s. In fact, it is a part of a larger benign (non-cancerous) condition called Fibrocystic, a disease of the breast. These cysts are usually circular and soft or firm fluid-filled tumors (sacs) that could grow up to several centimeters in diameter. 

Generally, breast pain can either be symptomatic (with noticeable symptoms) or asymptomatic (negligible to no symptoms at all).


It can also be present in one or both breasts accompanied by other signs such as:

  • Nipple discharge which could vary in color (clear, yellow, straw-colored, or dark brown)
  • Tenderness in the area of the breast lump
  • Increasing and decreasing breast lump size and breast tenderness before and after your period

In mild cases, these cysts disappear without any treatment or aren’t removed unless it’s causing discomfort. But there’s no harm in making sure it won’t lead to complications! If you’re unsure about having a cyst, consult an expert, so they could run a few tests to confirm it. 

Some methods used to determine if you have breast cysts are breast exams, imaging tests, fine-needle aspiration, and breast biopsy. 

 

Breast Cancer

Like cysts, breast cancers can either be symptomatic or asymptomatic during the early stages.


You might start feeling the following when the condition progresses: 

  • Swelling of your breast (even without a lump)
  • Breast and nipple pain, flacking, thickening & drying
  • Skin dimpling
  • Breast or nipple pain
  • Nipple retraction and discharge
  • Swollen lymph nodes
Breast cancer isn't the only condition we should be aware of when it comes to breast health.


Since these are very common symptoms, the
American Cancer Society suggests women undergo regular mammograms and other screening tests to detect breast cancer early. However, there are risks that come with these procedures due to radiation exposure

 

Other Causes 

Here are other possible reasons why you are experiencing breast pain: 

Medical Conditions 

    • Costochondritis – inflammation in the ribs (behind breast).
    • Acid reflux – a sharp and burning feeling (below your breastbone or ribs).
    • Gallbladder issues – may cause pain behind the breastbone accompanied by nausea and vomiting, among other symptoms.

 

Non-Medical Causes

    • Unhealthy lifestyle and poor diet – start eating a whole-foods diet to decrease estrogen levels and ease breast pain.
    • Unfit bra – a bra that lacks support may cause breast pain and stretch marks (if it’s too tight) and possibly headaches (if it’s too loose).
    • Breast size – women with bigger breasts are more prone to neck, shoulder, and back pain. So, using a supportive sports bra is recommended during exercise.

When to See a Doctor

If you notice a lump on your breasts, observe any discharge, or have chronic pain, seek medical help immediately.

Seek medical advice if your breast pain is: interfering with your daily activities, shifting or having irregular patterns, not related to your period, accompanied by fever and flu-like symptoms, caused by a lump in your breast or armpit area, or is accompanied by symptoms of breast cancer.

If it’s cyclical breast pain, here are some easy remedies you can do at home: 

  • Wear a supportive bra. A bra that doesn’t fit well won’t provide the support your breasts need and may cause soreness.

  • Use hot and/or cold compress. Apply heat (for 20-30 minutes) or cold (15-20 minutes) compress on your breast to ease breast pain. Use a clean towel or cloth to make sure the compress doesn’t touch your skin directly.

  • Don’t wash your nipples with soap. Your nipples have their own antiseptic oils to clean themselves so washing them with water will do just fine, soap can dry them out.

  • Massage your breast using natural oils. Avocado oil, primrose oil, and castor oil are proven and tested remedies to help alleviate breast soreness.

  • Vitamins could help. Taking Omega–3, Calcium, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin E may also help reduce breast pain, but be sure to consult your doctor if you’re taking prescription medicines.

  • Dietary changes. Eating magnesium-rich foods could not only alleviate breast pain but also PMS. Avoid sugar, alcohol, and caffeine as much as possible.

     

If You Believe It’s PMS, Here’s How We Can Help You

PMS is the most common cause of painful or sore breasts due to hormonal changes throughout your menstrual cycle.

Premenstrual Syndrome affects more than half the female population. Although it’s fairly common, this doesn’t mean you have to accept it. There are many solutions to heal your PMS and we’d love to share them with you. 

Women Cycles is a health portal that advocates natural and holistic healing modalities (such as sustaining a healthy lifestyle, having a positive relationship with your menstrual cycle and through meditation) to target the root cause of PMS, and other common conditions affecting women’s reproductive health and overall well-being. 

Women Understand Women

Our courses and programs are designed by women for women. And our community is built on the principles of companionship, hope, and support. 

In addition, we’re working to close the ‘medical inequalities gap’ that exists for women’s health issues by providing first-hand knowledge and proven methods that are both accessible and science-backed.

Women Cycles fights medical inequity and only wants to help and support every woman in the best way possible, which is through holistic approach.

Because no woman should endure recurring pain or other symptoms each month, or feel scared by it — especially not alone. You deserve to feel strong, supported, and great every single day — it’s more than possible!

Join Women Cycles to start your healing journey today!

Did you enjoy this article? Rate it here
Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn

More from Pelvic Healing category

3 Things Doctor’s don’t tell you about your pelvic floor. Plus 1 Bonus Tip