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Articles on Breast Health

Breast Tenderness

The breasts contain many hormone receptors (progesterone and estrogen) and are affected by small changes in hormone balance. Each month the breasts undergo multiple changes as it prepares for breastfeeding. The ducts near the nipple fill with fluid, which causes the breast to swell and a feeling of fullness. This can also cause breast tenderness which often diminishes once your menstrual cycle has started. The breast may become more sore just before you begin your period because tiny cysts form, collecting fluid causing lumpy breasts.

According to Jerilynn Prior, M.D., a Canadian clinician, researcher, and professor of endocrinology at the University of British Columbia, premenstrual breast tenderness that occurs at the sides of the breast under the armpits suggests that ovulation has occurred during that cycle. If the breasts are sore up front and over the nipples, it tends to suggest high estrogen, or estrogen dominance, which can indicate a lack of ovulation. Soreness on the sides and the front may indicate that ovulation occurred but that not much progesterone was produced three or four days after ovulation and thus estrogen dominance is occurring.

If your doctor determines that your breast tenderness is non-cancerous, there are many things you can do to reduce soreness in the breast or nipple area.

  • Progesterone Cream

In his book, What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Breast Cancer, John R. Lee, M.D. believed that painful and lumpy breasts of almost every description are caused by estrogen dominance and can be helped with the use of transdermal bio-identical progesterone over 2-3 cycles (where synthetic progestins often make them worse).

Breasts are a good barometer to guide you with your hormonal balancing. In fact many women use sensations in their breasts to assess their progesterone dosage. Breasts tend to feel very “full” or “swollen” when the body is in a state of estrogen dominance. When progesterone to estradiol levels are in balance, this swelling and tenderness disappears, and breasts feel “normal” throughout the menstrual cycle.

Breast tissue is extremely vascular and, therefore, progesterone absorbs very quickly into the blood stream and surrounding tissue. If you have breast pain, natural progesterone experts suggest that you try rubbing small amounts of progesterone cream directly onto your breasts several times a day to target breast tissue and oppose estrogen’s action in the body. Lumpy and painful breasts can be treated using 40mg of natural progesterone cream per day for about 2-3 months. Often breast tissue reverts to normal in many women. You can then maintain optimal health using by using as little as 20mg/day.

Note: A side effects of natural progesterone use can include breast tenderness and swelling. This is due to your body’s circulation of its own estrogens that may have been suppressed in the absence of adequate progesterone levels.
According to antidotal evidence, this slight tenderness disappears with the passage of time (usually about 2 weeks) or dosage can be adjusted.

Women who are highly stressed, or who have a high intake of caffeine may take longer to respond.

  • Change your diet

4 simple steps to help reduce the degree of breast pain

1. Reduce fat intake
2. Eliminate caffeine
3. Cut back on animal meat, unless its hormone free
4. Reduce consumption of foods that are high in sodium

  • Take Vitamin E

Vitamin E has shown to reduce breast pain associated with cyclical changes. It is recommended to take at least 400-800 IU daily for 2 weeks leading up to your period.

  • Try essential fatty acids

Evening primrose oil contains GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) which is an omega-6 fatty acid that have many anti-inflammatory actions. It can help ease sore breasts.

Omega-3 fatty acids helps support the hormones of the female reproductive system. Can help reduce inflammation.

Flaxseed oil contains alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). It contains lignans, which may have anti-oxidant actions and help protect against cancer. It also helps reduce peri-menopause symptoms.

  • Exercise

Studies show that women who exercise consistently have fewer breast problems and a lower incidence of breast cancer.

  • Reduce body fat

Estrogen is stored in fat cells. Women with a high percent body fat produce more estrogen, therefore causing more breast tenderness.