Breast pain, also known as mastalgia, is a very common complaint among women, especially during the menstrual cycle. According to California Pacific Medical Center, breast pain affects 50 to 70 percent of women.
Some of the signs of mastalgia are stabbing pain, heaviness, soreness, tenderness and swelling in both breasts. The pain may be mild to severe and occur constantly or only occasionally. Breast pain can be classified into two main clinical patterns:
- Cyclical– the pain intensity changes during the menstrual cycle.
- Non-cyclical – the pain remains unchanged during the menstrual cycle. This type is less frequent.
Cyclical breast pain occurs due to hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle. On the other hand, non-cyclical breast pain is associated with issues that affect the structure of the breasts, such as cysts, trauma, prior surgery or other factors.
Other causes of breast pain are an imbalance of fatty acids within the cells of the breasts, use of certain medications, having large breasts, breastfeeding and wearing ill-fitted bras.
For breast pain that occurs before or during the menstrual cycle, some home remedies can help ease the pain and tenderness. For unexplained pain that persists for days and occurs in one specific area of your breast, seek proper medical advice.
Here are the top 10 ways to deal with breast pain.
1. Ice Pack
To get relief from breast pain, you can use an ice pack. The cold temperature will numb the tender area as well as reduce swelling and pain.
- Place a few ice cubes in a plastic bag, and wrap it with a washcloth.
- Apply this ice pack to each of your breasts for about 10 minutes.
- Repeat a few times a day until you feel better.
You can also use a warm compress, or alternating warm and cold compresses to reduce the swelling and tenderness.
Note: Do not apply ice directly on your breasts.
2. Self Massage
Self-massaging the breasts will help reduce inflammation as well as improve blood circulation. This will help maintain healthy breast tissues and more nutrients will reach the breasts to prevent pain and tenderness.
- When you are in the shower, soap your breasts and then gently massage them for a few minutes from the center of your chest out to your armpits. If breastfeeding, do not apply soap to the nipples.
- Alternatively, add a few drops of camphor oil to 2 tablespoons of warm olive oil and use it to massage the breasts 1 or 2 times a day.
- Another option is to mix together equal amounts of apricot oil and wheat germ oil and then use it as massage oil for your tender breasts.
Massage your breasts on a regular basis to keep them healthy and pain free.
3. Evening Primrose Oil
One of the best treatments for breast pain is evening primrose oil. This oil contains the active ingredient gamolenic acid (GLA), a kind of fatty acid that helps the body respond well to hormonal changes. This in turn eases breast tenderness and pain.
- Apply evening primrose oil externally on your breasts and massage gently for a few minutes.
- Another option is to take 240 to 500 mg of evening primrose oil standardized extract daily for about 3 months, but only after consulting your doctor.
Note: If you are trying to get pregnant or if you have epilepsy, do not use evening primrose oil remedies.
The herb chasteberry can also be used to treat cyclical mastalgia and other symptoms of PMS. This herb has a positive effect on the pituitary gland to suppress the release of prolactin, a hormone responsible for PMS symptoms, including tender and painful breasts.
- The typical dose of dry chasteberry extract is 20 mg, 1 to 3 times a day.
- You can also take chasteberry as a liquid extract. Add 40 drops to a glass of water and drink it once in the morning.
Follow either of these remedies for at least 3 months. As with all supplements, consult a doctor first.
5. Castor Oil
Castor oil contains ricinoleic acid, which has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties that greatly help relieve breast pain. It also increases circulation, so that nutrients reach the cells, and waste products and inflammatory factors are removed from the body.
- Mix 1 tablespoon of castor oil with 2 tablespoons of any lighter oil, such as olive oil.
- Use it to massage all over your breasts.
- Follow this remedy daily in the week prior to your period.
According to naturopathy, dandelion can help deal with tenderness and pain in breasts. It is a natural diuretic and contains lots of potassium that helps flush extra fluids out of the body and prevents water retention. This in turn reduces breast pain.
- Simmer 1 teaspoon of dried dandelion root in a cup of water for 15 minutes. Strain and add a little honey. Drink up to 3 cups of this herbal tea a day.
- You can also take this herb in supplement form, after consulting your doctor.
Follow either of these remedies a few days before your menstrual cycle to prevent breast pain.