Ask The Expert
March 07, 2011
Breast pain, also called mastalgia, is a common symptom with several different causes.
Important details about the timing and location of the pain will help determine the cause. Breast pain may come and go in a pattern timed to the menstrual cycle, it may be continuous, or occur randomly. Pain may affect both breasts or be isolated to a specific location in one breast.
Breast pain can be caused by the hormone changes of the menstrual cycle and by those leading to menopause. Hormone related pain tends to be most severe just prior to menses and involve both breasts. As a woman approaches menopause, the timing of menstrual related events, including breast pain, may become less predictable.
Pain that is more local to one spot or isolated to a single breast may be caused by a cyst, growth, or infection. Breast cysts are fluid filled sacs often surrounded by dense fibrous tissue. They tend to come and go and can be drained if symptoms are severe.
Pain is not a typical symptom of cancer. And infection is usually accompanied by other symptoms such as redness, fever, or discharge.
Any breast pain that continues, is severe or is located on one spot of the breast should be evaluated by your doctor. If a specific cause is found and treated, the pain will go away.
General measures to relieve breast pain include:
Treating cyclic breast pain may also include the use of oral contraceptives or other hormones.