All About Breast Swelling and Pain

Updated: Jun 18, 2020

Fibrocystic breast condition

Throughout a woman's life her breasts are likely to change shape, size, and texture at different intervals. Unfortunately, these adjustments often come with pain or tenderness, which can vary in severity and duration. By learning about some of the causes of breast swelling and pain, you can become better equipped with regards to knowing when and if you can expect some discomfort. This should help you to prepare yourself and consider different management techniques and methods of pain relief should they be necessary.

A Well-Known Cause of Swollen Breasts Is Pregnancy

When a woman becomes pregnant the effects on her body are vast, and often uncomfortable. An early physical sign of pregnancy can be enlarged, swollen breasts. This is due to the hormonal changes that occur, and their effects on the tissue that comprise the breast. There is increased blood flow to the area, which can intensify sensitivity and sometimes cause pain and swelling in the breasts.

Fibrocystic breast 

Although once considered a disease, this affliction is so common that today it is widely acknowledged as an irritating condition that rarely warrants concern. Fibrocystic breasts can transpire at all different times during a woman's life, but they are most common in women aged between 20 and 50, or in those who administer hormone replacement therapy (HRT). It is thought to be caused by hormonal changes, which lead to changes in the cells and lobules of the breast, which can create a tough, lumpy texture. It is possible for this to create breast swelling and pain.

Cyclical mastalgia

The most common cause of breast pain and swelling is cyclical mastalgia. This refers to the uncomfortable sensation that corresponds with the menstrual cycle - usually affecting women between three and five days before their period. The hormonal implications at this time can make the breasts feel painful and sensitive, and possibly induce swelling. Some women find that only one breast is affected rather than both; if this is the case for you, it is worth noting that this is natural and you do not need to worry.

How to Cope with Swollen and Painful Breasts

If you suffer with breast pain and swelling, the first thing that should be considered - and which often goes overlooked - is your underwear. Changing your bra to a well-fitted, comfortable one, or even not wearing one at all, can be hugely beneficial for lessening pain and sensitivity. A supportive sports bra might be especially suitable to allow for the change in size and shape. Other management techniques include:

  • Hormone-influencing tablets
  • Heat pad or hot water bottle
  • Pain-killing medication

Breast swelling and pain is unfortunately an uncomfortable and troublesome condition that the majority of women are likely to endure at some stage of life. While it is undoubtedly undesirable, there are measures that can be explored for helping you deal with the problem, and hopefully avoid any intense pain or difficulties.