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painAround 70% of women are said to experience breast pain at some point in their life. This symptom is often associated with PMS (Pre-menstrual syndrome) but may also be experienced by menopausal women during the stage of peri-menopause when big hormonal changes are starting to take place. Breast pain is described as a feeling of tenderness, swelling and discomfort or heaviness of the breasts.

There are two main types of breast pain that can be experienced at around the time of menopause:

Cyclical breast pain is associated with the menstrual cycle and tends to come a week or so before the period begins. It is a PMS-type symptom affecting women during the peri-menopause or before periods stop
Non-cyclical breast pain has no relation to the menstrual cycle but can come at any time. This can occur before, during or after the menopause.

While some women experience breast pain much later in life, in the majority of cases, breast pain settles down shortly after the menopause or when periods stop.

My own doctor recommended taking Evening Primrose Oil capsules and indeed they seemed to lessen the discomfort. However, I am not one for becoming reliant on pills, herbal or otherwise so after completing a course, I decided to try without them and look for natural ways to deal with the pain. I was therefore interested in the following article from Dr Anna Garrett on this subject:

For many women, one of the more annoying symptoms that come along with perimenopause is sore, tender, enlarged breasts. This is generally a sign of estrogen dominance. This imbalance of estrogen to progesterone sets up shop as ovulation becomes more and more irregular, resulting in low levels of progesterone. When progesterone isn’t on board to balance out estrogen, breasts can get bigger, swollen and very sore.

If your breasts are so tender that they’re making you miserable, here are some helpful steps you can take.

  • Use progesterone cream or capsules to help balance estrogen and improve symptoms. Progesterone cream is available over-the-counter, but capsules require a prescription. Progesterone also helps with bloating and many of the mood-related symptoms of perimenopause. You can read more about the power of progesterone here.
  • Eating more fiber helps lower estrogen levels, which will improve the estrogen/progesterone balance. Aim for 35-45 gm/day. Increase this gradually or your GI system will let you know it’s unhappy!
  • Vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, essential fatty acids, and folic acid levels need to be at optimal levels. Magnesium, along with vitamin B6, is particularly effective in reducing breast sensitivity and pain, in addition to helping with insomnia, tension headaches, anxiety, depression, cravings, and water retention.

I recommend 500-800 mg of magnesium glycinate at bedtime to my clients. Avoid magnesium oxide. It is poorly absorbed and can cause diarrhea in some women.
If you are taking birth control pills or HRT, these medications may be contributing to your breast tenderness. You might want to reconsider using them or try a brand that has a different ratio of estrogen to progestin.

Dial back the caffeine. Methylxanthines (found in caffeine) can contribute to breast tenderness.

Invest in a good supportive bra.

Avoid alcohol. Drinking increases estrogen levels.

The good news is that breast tenderness improves as you reach menopause. This is because estrogen levels decline enough to create better balance with progesterone. If pain is severe and does not improve with these lifestyle and supplement changes, consult your healthcare provider.

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Article taken from: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/7-ways-manage-breast-tenderness-perimenopause-dr-anna-garrett?published=tAccording

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You should not discount the benefits of acupuncture either. Louise Percival is one of many practitioners who uses acupuncture to help women through menopause. It is an effective way to deal with many symptoms including breast discomfort. You can contact her (UK citizens) by clicking on the link HERE where, if you click Menopausal Symptoms on the list of treatments, you will be able to learn more and find an acupuncturist near you.

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