May 09, 2018 2 min read

Woman holding bra in the air

For some women, sore, sometimes painful breasts are a good tip-off that your period is about to make a visit. While the heads-up is nice, sore breasts can be incredibly uncomfortable.

Of course, this doesn’t happen to everyone before their period. And if you fall into the sore-boob camp, you’ve probably dealt with it for your entire period-having life and never given it much thought. But there's a very real reason why sore breasts around your period are a thing, and even better, there are ways to find relief.

Breast soreness related to menstruation has a medical name: cyclical mastalgia. As you can probably guess, it has a lot to do with hormones.

Your hormones are in flux during your menstrual cycle and as estrogen and progesterone rise and fall during your period both affect the receptors in your breasts that react to these hormones.  For example, during the middle of your cycle estrogen levels are increasing and can cause breast ducts to become enlarged and breast tissue to become highly sensitive. While in the second half of your menstrual cycle progesterone levels go up, which can cause swelling of the breast’s milk glands.  Both these fluctuating hormones can cause you to experience that feeling of painful or tender breasts.

Well now you know the hormones are to blame, but that doesn’t mean you just throw in the towel or look for a magic pill. You have plenty of tools at your disposal to ease these symptoms, particularly eating the right foods and avoiding others that make these symptoms worse. 

Kale, spinach, broccoli, collards, Swiss chard, sweet potato, brown rice, and legumes are all high in fiber which helps eliminate excess estrogen in the body and reduce breast swelling and soreness. If possible avoid the use of caffeine, which can cause fluid to build-up in your breasts due to the dilation effect caffeine has on your blood vessels.

An estimated 70% of women experience premenstrual breast soreness over the course of their lifetime. In the vast majority of cases, breast tenderness around your period is normal and harmless other than making you uncomfortable.

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