Mastodynia or mastalgia is the technical term for chest pain . This affects women in particular, but sometimes also men. The breasts are uncomfortable, they feel heavy and painful. Many women suffer from it every month during their menstruation, young and old alike, with tension often increasing with age. This pain usually stops with the menopause.
Table of Contents
- The female breast
- Cause number 1: menstruation
- Breast tenderness out of period
- Pregnancy and tight breasts
- Breast cancer a cause?
- Harmless causes
- Breast tenderness in men
- What helps?
- When to the doctor?
The female breast
The breast tissue of women is far more complex than that of men and changes several times in life. Extreme hormonal conditions such as puberty, pregnancy, menstruation, premenopause and menopause show up in the breasts as a feeling of tension.
Tension in the chest area can cause pain. (Image: SENTELLO / fotolia.com)
Cause number 1: menstruation
Most women feel chest tension during the period, with some of the breasts hurting severely. Lids, hands, feet and legs can also swell. Some women are afraid of bleeding month after month because of these symptoms.
In the first half of the cycle the estrogens set the tone, in the second half progesterone, the corpus luteum hormone, comes to the fore. This alternating bath of hormones ensures that it stores water in the breasts and causes pain.
The hormone prolactin, which occurs more frequently in the second cycle phase and adjusts the gland cells to produce milk, also changes the breast tissue. The blood flow is increased, the gland cells grow and produce secretions.
Some women are particularly sensitive to prolactin, which is likely to increase chest pain, and is believed to be a cause of breast formation and chest pain in men whose pituitary gland also emits this hormone.
Breast tenderness out of period
Out-of-period hormonal changes can cause pain as well as hormonal extremes during menstruation. This is especially true for the birth control pill. Breast tenderness is a typical side effect of estrogen-stressed pills. But contraceptive sticks under the skin that contain progestins can also cause pain.
Pregnancy and tight breasts
The mammary glands grow enormously during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Now they are making the foremilk, and when the baby is sucking, the breast milk. The so-called Montgomery glands form, which emit an oil that keeps the nipples soft during breastfeeding.
Tensions and a hardened breast are not a disease at this time, but a normal biological process.
However, the woman must take care to avoid a milk congestion, which can lead to breast inflammation. Hygiene, balanced nutrition and a breastfeeding technique where milk flows freely are important.
A milk jam first manifests itself as severe pain in the affected breast, as a local hardening and as a “gnubbel”. Are the pains great, is the chest red and hot, do muscle pains and fever occur? Then it is almost certainly a bacterial infection.
Breast tenderness can be very stressful. These exercises can relieve the discomfort.
Breast cancer a cause?
When you complain of breast tension, many women fear that you have breast cancer. Check-ups can never hurt, but: Pain is not a common symptom of breast cancer.
During the menopause, the level of the sex hormones drops. The breast tension in menstruation stops. Breast inflammation can develop in women of all ages, mostly as an infection with bacteria.
The level of progesterone decreases continuously during menopause, and after the menopause the female body no longer produces the hormone. As a result, estrogen dominates because the ovaries do not produce progesterone – but estrogen does.
Progesterone drives the water and therefore inhibits water retention in the tissue, which can trigger estrogen. If progesterone is no longer available, the estrogen may store more water, which leads to pain and tension in the chest.
If the glandular tissue regresses during menopause, cysts can develop, which also lead to tension.
Outside of menstruation
Breast tenderness – and pain outside of menstruation can be divided into:
– enlargement of the aisle
– treatment with sex hormones
– breast inflammation (mastititis)
– fat necrosis
– breast cancer
Breast tensions in women can also have harmless causes: For example, a bra may not fit well or be made of material that irritates the skin and causes pain.
Breast tenderness in men
A tense breast is less common in men than in women, and it usually affects men who have chest swelling ( gynecomastia ), who have hormonal disorders, or who are otherwise ill.
An overview of the causes:
- Physiological gynecomastia,
- Pseudogynaecomastia in obese people (breast gets bigger due to adipose tissue),
- Breast formation due to sex hormone disorder, either congenital or anabolic
- Cysts and lumps in the chest,
- Breast cancer,
- substances similar to hormones in lavender oil.
Extracts of the monk’s pepper release the messenger substance dopamine and thus balance the hormone level of the milk-producing prolactin. This relieves tension, but it takes several weeks for the plant to work.
Massages with lavender or rose oil are just as recommendable as cold wraps with curd cheese or preparations with St. John’s wort.
Often only the leaves are used for fresh herbs. But the flowers of many plants are also edible. In fact, these are particularly tasty. (Image: Dionisvera / fotolia.com)
Psychological stress affects hormone levels and can promote breast tenderness. Relaxation exercises are suitable to level the mirror again, i.e. autogenic training, yoga or meditation.
When to the doctor?
If the breast changes or hurts, you should always go to the doctor. Most of the time, the causes are not dangerous, but chest and nipple pain can indicate heart problems or breast cancer. (Dr. Utz Anhalt)