What Causes Breast Tenderness Before a Period?

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  • Written By: K. Gierok
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 03 October 2019
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Any women who have experienced breast tenderness before a period understand how painful this condition can be. Typically, this pain is caused primarily by changes in estrogen and progesterone levels. Other cases of breast tenderness, however, can be caused by the consumption of certain foods, especially those rich in animal fats and caffeine. Those who experience breast tenderness are usually encouraged to use over-the-counter medications to treat the symptoms of their pain. Women who do not achieve relief through these medications may need to take prescription drugs. Those who have severe breast pain or experience it only on one side of the body should seek medical assistance, as this may be indicative of breast cancer.

In most cases, the most common cause of breast tenderness before a period is due to changes in hormone levels in the female body. Estrogen and progesterone are the two main hormones that can lead to breast tenderness, and they typically begin to increase in concentration at the start of ovulation. These hormones can increase fluid retention in the body. When this fluid is retained in the breasts, painful swelling and aching can occur.


Breast tenderness has been linked to the consumption of certain foods. Coffee and other foods high in caffeine have been found to be a major culprit, as a chemical contained in these foods can lead to the dilation of blood vessels in the breasts, causing further fluid retention. Other foods such as animal fats and dairy products have also been linked to breast tenderness before a period. Though the cause of breast pain associated with the consumption of these foods remains relatively unclear, some believe that hormones used in these foods can be passed on to the consumer, and lead to even higher hormone levels.

Typically, women who experience the most severe symptoms are encouraged use use over-the-counter pain relievers and speak to a medical professional if they are still experiencing pain. Some women find that chemical birth control can limit breast tenderness before a period. Women who have severe breast pain or experience it only on one side of the body should seek medical assistance as soon as possible. This type of pain could be a sign of breast cancer or a noncancerous breast tumor.


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Post 2

The only thing that really helped my breast tenderness was getting on birth control. My doctor said my hormones must have been seriously out of kilter since getting on the pill immediately resolved almost all of my PMS issues. By the time I'd been on it three months, I felt better than I had in years.

I don't know how long I can safely stay on the pill, but it has helped me so much, I'm reluctant to come off it. I don't want to be pregnant again, so I don't know. I'll have to talk to my doc, I guess.

Post 1

I'm not sure how accurate this is, where caffeine is concerned, anyway. When I was in high school, I didn't drink much caffeine at all, and my breasts got *so* tender around my period. Sometimes, it hurt to wear a bra.

Of course, I had killer beast cramps, backaches and headaches, all put together, so I think my hormones were completely out of whack, to start with. I ate Advil like it was candy. I didn't get complete relief, but I was able to stand upright, which was definitely an improvement, since usually, getting out of bed was a major accomplishment.

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