As self-love and self-care advocates, we always do our best to look on the bright side of the miracles of menstruation. But we’re also all about keeping it real, so TBH, PMS symptoms can be, well, a total pain… in the breast.
The good news is that PMS-related breast tenderness is a sign that your body is working like a well-oiled machine. Cyclical breast pain starts around ovulation and lasts until you start your period. For the tenderness, you can thank fluctuating hormones; estrogen makes your breast ducts expand, and progesterone gets those milk glands swelling. The arrival of your period gives your body — which has been busy prepping for a potential pregnancy — the message there’s no baby on board, and you swell no more.
The even better news is that there are several tried and true things you can do to help protect your girls and give them extra TLC when they need it most.
Buy better bras
This might sound like something your mom desperately tried to drum into you… and as it turns out, she was right... again. Think about it: if your boobs are ballooning, your regular bra is probably buckling under the pressure. Between an uncomfortable underwire and the material rubbing tightly on the most sensitive part of your bosom, it makes sense to free the nipple. Same goes if your bra isn’t very supportive (we’re looking at you, exercise bra). All that bouncing around just adds to the angst when exercise should be helping your premenstrual self — not hurting you. Your best bet is to look for a soft-cup bra that gives you plenty of support. Bonus: a soft bra is also super comfy to sleep in, which comes in handy if PMS breast pain has you tossing and turning.
Adjust your diet
The PMS monster loves to overindulge, but don’t give in to temptation. Cut back on caffeine, fried foods, booze, and junk food because your body does feel better on a healthy, PMS-friendly diet. Choose whole, nutrient-rich foods that nourish your body, like leafy green vegetables, nuts, whole grains, healthy fats (i.e., avocados), quality dairy (for calcium), and lean protein. And hydrate! (This goes for all month, too, but you knew that :-)
Make sure to take your vitamins
Back to mom wisdom: she always said to take your vitamins to stay healthy and strong. And that advice holds when PMS is threatening to sap your strength and make you more vulnerable to aches and pains, including in the breast department. Research shows that some vitamins and minerals can help alleviate breast pain and other PMS-related symptoms. In fact, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health recommends upping your dosage of vitamin E and magnesium, two of the ingredients in our SAVE YOUR SANITY multivitamin supplements. Which, BTW, also feature mood-stabilizing, bloat-busting, energy-boosting minerals and vitamins including C, B6, B12, folate, and calcium.
Check out chasteberry
Used in ancient times to curb sexual desire (hence the “chaste” part of the name), chasteberry (also known as “vitex”) is popular today to ease the pain and discomfort of menstruation. And some preliminary studies say the herb is especially useful in helping reduce breast pain. Word of warning, because of chasteberry’s hormonal balancing power, it’s recommended you avoid it if you’re taking hormone replacement medications, bromocriptine, or oral contraceptives.
(As we always say) self-care!
Like any other sore body part, your aching breasts benefit from either heat or cold, depending on what feels better to you. A gently applied cold compress may do the trick, or you may prefer to sink into a hot, steamy bath. Don’t forget the lower the lights and spark up your favorite scented candles — you might as well relax as the water takes a load off your chest, as so to speak.
When to call your doctor
While experiencing breast tenderness and pain is normal and natural around your period, sometimes there could be something else going on that you should discuss with your doctor. If any of the following crop up, keep in mind that your body might be telling you something important about your health. Call your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Nipple discharge that’s bloody or brown
- Lumps in your breast that you’ve never noticed before, or if you have, appear to be changing in size or shape, or that occur in only one of your breasts
- Severe breast pain that makes it hard to sleep or do life in general
Of course, you know best when it comes to your breasts. And doing what you can to keep yourself comfortable and healthy is the best way to bounce back from the pain and discomfort of PMS.