Breast pain, which in medical terminology is called mastalgia, is one of the most common problems affecting women. Nearly 70% of women experience breast pain at some time in their lives.
Mastalgia can occur in one or both breasts or in the underarm area. Many cases of mastalgia are caused by fibrocystic disease (a benign condition) of the breast.
There are two common types of breast pain: cyclical and non-cyclical. Cyclical breast pain, which accounts for almost 70% of all breast pain in women, is associated with levels of the hormones, estrogen and progesterone, in pre-menopausal women. Cyclical breast pain of pre-menopausal women tends to come and go, as the levels of the hormones fluctuate during a woman's menstrual cycle.
Non-cyclical breast pain, which is less common, is not hormone-related. In contrast, non-cyclical breast pain typically is associated with some type of trauma (i.e., injury) to the breast.
Although breast pain can be distressing and cause discomfort, it rarely is associated with undiagnosed breast cancer. Nevertheless, if you are experiencing breast pain, consult your doctor for a clinical breast examination, diagnosis, and recommendations for managing breast pain.
Dietary and lifestyle modifications usually can correct the problem of breast pain. If, however, breast pain persists after these modifications, consult your doctor to discuss treatments (such as hormonal therapy) for breast pain.
See our Q&A called:
• Managing & Treating Fibrocystic Disease
• Managing & Treating Breast Pain