Breast Pain

Breast pain is very common and affects most women at some time in their lives. It can cause significant worry, but it is not usually a symptom of breast cancer.

 There are 2 main types of breast pain:
  • Cyclical pain is the most common type of breast pain. It usually affects both breasts. It is most common between the ages of 20 and 50 years and is associated with the menstrual cycle. This pain is due to normal hormonal changes.
  • Noncyclical pain is not related to the menstrual cycle. This can occur before or after menopause. It may affect one or both breasts. This pain may be due to excess caffeine intake, injury to the breast, or posture issues, or it may in fact be muscular pain (not related to the breast). Often the cause of this type of pain cannot be determined.

The treatment for breast pain depends on the type of pain experienced:
Cyclical Breast Pain
  • Take simple pain relief medication.
  • Wear a correctly fitting bra.
  • Eat a healthy well-balanced diet.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Reduce caffeine intake before the menstrual period.
  • If approved by your healthcare provider, take evening primrose oil daily for at least 3 months.
    NOTE: Evening primrose oil should not be used in pregnancy or while breast-feeding.
Noncyclical Breast Pain
  • Take simple pain relief medication.
  • Wear a correctly fitting bra.
  • Reduce caffeine intake.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • If approved by your healthcare provider, take evening primrose oil (may help but is less effective than in cyclical breast pain).

Evaluation by a primary care provider or a specialist is essential if you have any concerns or if you notice any of the following:
  • Breast lump or a lump in the armpit
  • Swelling or an abnormal feeling in the breast
  • Nipple discharge or itching
  • Changes in the skin of the breast
  • Infection of the breast