Reasons for Breast Soreness and How to Handle it

Breasts are a part of woman’s body that produce and secrete milk which helps in the growth of the infant. Breasts are mostly lump of tissues that lie over the chest muscle. However, the development breasts in teenage girls are the signs of puberty signifying a defining change in the body of the girl transforming her into a woman. Since every human part of the body can have problems, it is nothing uncommon to have breast problems as well.

 Breast Soreness Causes, Symptoms, TreatmentWhat is Breast Soreness?

The human body experiences different changes throughout life. Though breast soreness can occur in both men and women, women are known experience it more due to enlargement of best during and after puberty. A slight sore feeling while being in the shower or the feeling of an ache while you are lying down on your stomach may be some of the symptoms seen in women. Men might experience a slight lump below the nipple or even experience tenderness. Sore breasts are not always the cause of cancer but should be treated and handled with care. This is termed as mastalgia by doctors.

Different Causes of Breast Soreness

There are various different reasons for breast soreness. Mostly they can be cyclical or noncyclical. Cyclical pain in the breasts is caused due to menstrual cycle but the noncyclical pain is uncommon among women, and its cause may be difficult to identify. Some of the reasons for breast soreness are:


Having the baby bump may bring in a lot of joy, but it also affects your body in many ways, one of them being breast soreness. Sore breasts are a tell-tale sign of pregnancy. As soon as you conceive, estrogen levels in your body starts shooting up along with widening of the milk ducts that can cause breast pain.


Not only do you breasts pain while you are pregnant, they continue being painful when you are breastfeeding your baby. As the milk ducts are continuously serving up milk for the little one, it is common to have sore breasts with all that activity going on right there.

Excessive Consumption of Caffeine

 Women who have generous amounts of coffee every day may have tender breasts that can be sore. Taking 3 or more cups of coffee or latte everyday is considered as a primary cause of breast soreness and needs to be controlled to prevent constant pain and tenderness.

Regular Smoking

Women who like to have a smoke every now and then are more prone to soreness in both breasts than those who don’t. Researches have shown that the nicotine present in cigars, cigarettes, etc. is a direct cause of tenderness in breasts.


Though a common feminine thing periods may be the cause of sore breasts in women. This usually starts a week or two before the onset of the menstrual cycle and is mainly due to the changes in the hormonal levels in the body during this period. For many women, the feeling of tenderness is observed only a day before the start of the periods and usually goes away with the end of periods. There is normally nothing to be concerned about if breast soreness is a part of PMS. One can take birth control pills that will maintain the hormone levels or may use natural remedies like primrose oil during the period days to alleviate the soreness.

Excessive Workouts

If you have recently started working out or upped your workout regime significantly, it is quite possible that you may have a sensation of pain or soreness in your breasts. However, it must be understood that pain isn’t actually originating from your breasts but from the pectoral muscles that lie below them. Doing strenuous workouts may affect these muscles and lead to a feeling of pain that may be mistaken as breast soreness.

Sudden Activity

Not only do intense workout lead to a feeling of pain in the breasts, but may also be caused due to some sudden activity that had an impact on your pectoral muscles. This may include lifting heavy furniture, sudden pulling or pushing, an accident or anything that may affect the pectoral muscles. The feeling of pain will be quite similar to that seen due to strenuous workouts and is often mistaken as breast soreness although the pain isn’t actually occurring in your breasts.


If you have had an incident of breast trauma, then you may experience pain in your breasts. Breast trauma may include incidents like being hit by something in the chest, having a breast surgery, etc. However, thus pain is known to reduce quickly unless any underlying bone or muscles has been injured.

Ill-fitted Bras

Bras that don’t fit well may also be the cause of soreness in the breasts. Wearing bras with smaller cup size or too tight underwire may create a constant pressure on your breasts. Wearing such ill-fitted lingerie all day long can have severe impact on your breasts.

Lack of Proper Support

Since breasts do not have any bones, they require good support at all times, more so if you have a very active schedule that includes a lot of walking, running and moving all throughout the day. Lack of proper support for your breasts can lead to pain in breasts tissues. If you play a lot of sports or are a sportsperson, you are more prone to experiencing breast pain if proper sports bras aren’t used.

Fibrocystic Tissues

Soreness in breasts can also be caused due to lumpy breasts tissues that are medically known as fibrocystic tissues. Fibrocystic tissues are known to contain cysts that usually get affected by hormonal changes in the body and may lead to breast pain during periods.

Breast Infections

If you have soreness in one of your breasts while the other is perfectly normal, then it could be that you have breast infection. Infections normally affect only one breast rather than affecting both at the same time. Thus, pain in one breast can be attributed to infection.

Weight Gain

If you have recently gained a lot of weight, you may feel breast soreness. This is because your breasts have become heavier, thus straining the breast tissue which makes the area sore.


Stress has been identified as a root cause of breast soreness. This is because stress affects your hormonal levels, thus causing an effect similar to PMS related breast soreness.


If you are about to reach perimenopause or menopause, you can experience soreness. The reason is the hormonal changes or imbalances that occur during the phase. A similar effect is seen amongst women who have opted for hormonal replacement therapy.


Painful breasts can also be caused due to the application of body moisturizers or lotions that contain ingredients that you are allergic to. Regular application of such cosmetics can lead to cracked and inflamed skin leading to pain in your breasts. Not only cosmetics, similar reactions may also be caused by ingredients in your daily detergent, makeup, hair products, etc.


If you have recently started taking birth control pills, then you are likely to experience breast soreness due to the changes in hormone level. Not only that, medicines prescribed for hair loss, acne, high BP, psychiatric conditions, etc. can also lead to soreness or pain.


Though breast soreness is a symptom of breast cancer, yet the symptom is very rarely seen in women who are affected with breast cancer. Most women who report of breast soreness do not have cancer. But it is important that if you rule out all other possibilities for breast soreness, you go and see your doctor as it can be a matter of concern.

Are Sore Breasts a Matter of Concern?

Since breast pain or soreness is common among women, it really is not a matter of concern. Breast soreness as discussed can be caused due to various different reasons. If the pain is in both the breasts and you are about to get your period, it is most likely caused due to hormonal changes. However, if the pain or soreness is located in one specific area and you feel the presence of a lump, this can be a reason of concern. Make sure to consult your doctor as soon as possible and have a thorough examination.

Symptoms of Sore Breasts

Since there are two types of breast soreness, one cyclical and the other noncyclical, the symptoms for both are different.

For cyclical soreness, the symptoms are:

  • You get them just before your menstrual cycle.
  • Your breasts might have swelling.
  • They might become tender.
  • Both of your breasts are affected and have pain.
  • It also happens before you go through menopause.
  • The intensity of the pain increases before you get your periods.
  • The pain may extend till your underarms as well.

For noncyclical soreness, the symptoms are:

  • The area it affects is a particular point and not the whole breast.
  • The pain may be in one breast and not both of them.
  • The pain is either sporadic or continuous.
  • Women who do have already experienced menopause have such pain.
  • If the pain is caused due to infection, the woman may experience fever; the swelled up area may feel warm, tenderness etc.

How to Diagnose Sore Breasts?

The best course for diagnosing sore breasts is consulting your doctor. There are a few methods that can be taken into consideration. These are:

  • Clinical diagnosis or a full checkup of your breast done by your doctor is the best way to know any kind of problems that you might have. After preliminary examination, if the doctor thinks that you need a further diagnosis, he or she will advise you to do so.
  • A mammogram is another way of diagnosing your breast soreness. You need to get an x-ray done if the doctor feels that you have a lump in a focused area in your breasts.
  • If the doctor finds any unusual lumps in your breast or thickening in some areas, a biopsy might be conducted by your doctor before he can suggest any diagnosis. A small sample of the breast tissue of the affected area is collected and sent to the lab for analysis.
  • Taking an ultrasound exam shows the image of your breasts with the lumps and other problems that might be caused. Even if the mammogram may appear clear, an ultrasound will show and focus all your problems.

How to Manage Sore Breasts?

  • Wear a well-fitted bra and something that is soft and not too harsh on the breasts.
  • Abstain from caffeine intake if possibly or cut down your daily caffeine consumption.
  • If you are a smoker, make sure that you avoid it at all costs. Use of marijuana must also be stopped.
  • Evening primrose oil is another way of treating sore breasts.
  • You can start taking Vitamin B with suggestion from a pharmacist.
  • OTC medicines help too sometimes.
  • You can use as gels or anti-inflammatory creams to get a relief from the pain. It must, however, be remembered that they are just a quick relief solution and not a cure.
  • You can apply a hot pack on the areas that feel sore or soak in a hot bath for relief.
  • An ice pack may also be used to get relief from the pain/soreness.
  • If you are a pregnant or breastfeeding woman, you can consult an expert to ease the soreness.

If the pain persists, it is advisable to consult your doctor without any delay.

How to Reduce Breast Soreness?

  • Well-supported breasts are more likely to be less sore. It is imperative that you wear well-supported and well-fitted bra to help reduce your breast soreness,
  • Cut off fat from your diet. Reduction in fat helps control the breast soreness that has been irritating you since.
  • Make sure that you take a good amount of Omega 3 fats that is commonly obtained from oily fish. These fats are highly effective in reducing breast inflammation that leads to pain in the breasts. You can also opt to take Omega 3 supplements if you cannot take oily fish.
  • Since sodium increases water retention in the body, it likely causes swelling of breasts. Try to reduce the intake of sodium in your food.
  • Caffeine plays a major role in breast soreness. If you feel that your breasts are sore, immediately reduce the intake of caffeine and that might just help.
  • Massaging your breasts increases the blood flow in them and might help in the reduction of the soreness.
  • Use ice as a reliever. Ice helps in relieving the soreness in your breasts. The cold helps in the reduction of soreness and dulls out the pain as well.


Though breast soreness is common, it should never be taken lightly. If the home remedies fail and you do feel the soreness increasing, it is best that you consult your doctor as soon as possible and get it treated.

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About the author

Munira Saleh

Hello Readers! I am Munira Saleh, Running The OnlyWomenStuff Blog. Formerly a Teacher, my passion for writing got me into Blogging. I started this blog to provide a platform where i could post all things related to women. I use this medium to create awareness, explore womanhood and share my experience of being a woman; right from Beauty, Fashion and Women’s Health Care to beyond. Connect with me to know more!

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