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Minimizing Breast Pain: Recommendations

Minimizing Breast Pain: Recommendations

Sore breasts can signal the onset of PMS -- that 'ouch' feeling tells some women they're premenstrual more reliably than a calendar.

Cyclical breast soreness shouldn't cause concern, according to Women's Health America. However, breast pain doesn't have to be tolerated. Here's how to minimize discomfort, and how to recognize cautionary signs that should send you to your doctor.

Watch what you eat and drink. Caffeine and sugar can cause premenstrual breast tenderness. If you can't give up coffee, cut down all month, not just premenstrually.

Salt is often mistaken as the culprit in bloating and breast tenderness, but sugar is actually implicated in puffy, sore breasts. Minimizing sweets helps manage breast soreness, and may improve other PMS symptoms.

Keep moving. Breast pain can make exercising uncomfortable. But regular exercise actually helps reduce premenstrual breast soreness, according to a Canadian study.

Supplement. The supplement Vitamin B6, taken as part of a B-complex vitamin that contains magnesium, can reduce premenstrual breast soreness. Evening primrose oil may also help premenstrual breast tenderness.

Review your medication. During perimenopause, PMS-like symptoms such as breast tenderness often worsen. A woman taking hormones who continues to experience breast soreness should evaluate her regimen.

"Breast tenderness often results when HRT dosages are too high," says Gloria Bachmann, M.D., professor of ob/gyn at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. You don't have to stop taking HRT or oral contraceptives if you have breast soreness, Dr. Bachmann notes. "Dosages can be adjusted or the delivery system changed."

Natural progesterone can also help alleviate breast soreness. Synthetic progestins in birth control pills or in HRT may cause breast pain. Natural progesterone, identical to the hormone the body produces, is often easier to tolerate.

Cause for Concern

Intense or prolonged breast soreness, or pain occurring at unexpected times of the month should be evaluated, says Dr. Bachmann. Irregular menstruation during perimenopause can make it difficult to tell if breast pain is cyclical or something out of the ordinary.

"Any nipple discharge that accompanies the pain is a red flag," says Dr. Bachmann. She also advises examining your breasts carefully. "Any discoloration or dimpling needs to be checked out," she says.

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