Woman's Health Centers

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Breast Tenderness

Some women experience mild breast tenderness just prior to their period. This tenderness may have to do with the changing hormones in your body. Some doctors speculate that it may be due to excess female hormones - too much estrogen, progesterone or prolactin. An imbalance in these hormones may also cause breast tenderness. The monthly change in hormones can cause fluid retention, which may also contribute to breast tenderness. This type of tenderness usually goes away once your period starts, or certainly by the time your period is over for the month.

Breast tenderness may also be an early sign of pregnancy. Usually experienced beginning 6-8 weeks from conception.

Breast tenderness may also increase in the decade before menopause. During this period of time, a woman’s hormones are in flux.

Discomfort may increase with stress and a lack of exercise.


  • Exercise, go for a walk, jog, work out.
  • Give your breasts good support. Wear a good bra. Pad your bra with lamb’s wool to protect the nipples from sending pain signals to your brain.
  • Take an over the counter anti-inflammatory like Ibuprofen
  • Use ice packs. Many women report 10-15 minutes with a damp washcloth filled with ice or a bag of frozen vegetables covered in a damp cloth gives them relief.
  • Lower fat diet. Research shows that a low fat diet reduces estrogen levels in the body.
  • Decrease caffeine consumption.
  • Eat less chocolate. Chocolate and caffeine contain methylxanthine which may increase breast tenderness.
  • Reduce salt intake.