When it comes to your boobs being sore, we all know the word on the street is that it’s probably because your period is en route. But what are some other reasons your breasts could be feeling especially tender? We spoke to the experts to find out.
For starters, Dr. Natalie Bulock, an OB/GYN with Mercy Medical Group in Elk Grove, CA, notes that breast pain is common and rarely a symptom of breast cancer. However, if you experience redness, swelling, and have a fever, it’s a sign of infection (particularly in breastfeeding women) and you should see a doctor ASAP.
Assuming you don’t have any of the above, here are some common reasons you might be experiencing tender boobs.
1 You have your period
Yep, just to get this out of the way, one of the most common reasons for breast soreness is from fluctuations in your hormones the week before your period, explains Andrea Martin, DNP, CRNP, WHNP Board Certified Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner at Thomas Jefferson Hospital. Cyclic pain related to your period is considered totally normal, and typically affects both breasts, whereas non-cyclical breast pain tends to affect only one breast.
2 You have a rash
Martin adds that it’s possible that a rash caused by breast tissue folding over onto the skin of your chest could create a moist area where fungal infections can grow: ‘Women with larger breasts have a much harder time getting good airflow under their breasts and are at more of a risk for itchy, red rashes.’ Fungal rashes tend to be underneath the breast tissue along the fold of the skin, while a sign of inflammatory breast cancer would show up on the breast itself, along with a change in skin texture, she also says. As for non-fungal rashes, Dr. Constance Chen, a plastic surgeon specialising in breast reconstruction, also notes that infection or skin allergy could also be the cause.
3 You’re on hormone replacement therapy
If you’re on hormone replacement therapy to treat menopausal symptoms or transitioning genders, this could be a reason for breast tenderness, says Martin.
4 You’re on birth control
Dr. Chen says that birth control can cause changes in breast tissue by changing estrogen and progesterone levels during the menstrual cycle. These changes can change the size of someone’s breasts, and make them feel tender or sore.
5 You’re working out too hard
Dr. Omnia Samra Latif Estafan, board-certified OBGYN, says that simply working out your upper body too hard can affect the chest wall muscles that lie underneath your breasts. To fix this, make sure you’re wearing a supportive sports bra when you work out.
6 Your breasts are pulling on your muscles
According to Martin, ‘large breasts can pull on supportive ligaments causing neck, back and shoulder pain.’ Another reason to get a supportive sports bra!
7 You aren’t wearing the right bra size
Bulock says this is actually more common than you think! Measure yourself and make sure you’re wearing the proper size bra to support your breasts.
8 Your purse or backpack is too heavy
Bulock says, ‘Wearing and carrying heavy purses or backpacks can cause rib or chest wall pain — which can be confused for breast pain.’
9 Your posture could be behind it
Sitting at a desk all day if you’ve got bad posture is a recipe for disaster. ‘Poor posture and a poor work set up at your desk can cause strain and pain in your chest,’ says Bulock. See if your workplace offers an ergonomic assessment of your desk sitch to see if posture is the root of your probs. They might upgrade you to a standing desk or even just give you tips on how to properly align your posture while sitting.
10 You could be pregnant
Yet another thing your hormones could be behind! The fluctuation between estrogen and progesterone that are preparing your breast for milk production could cause tenderness, says Martin. This can even happen as early as two weeks after conception.
11 If you have implants, it could be related to that
Aside from the post-op pain that’s to be expected immediately after surgery, if you’ve had implants for a few weeks or even years and they suddenly hurt, you should see your plastic surgeon right away, says Dr. Chen.
This post originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com.
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