Why Do Boobs Hurt During Period
When you’re on birth control, it’s not unusual for your boobs to get sore. This is because estrogen levels are lower than normal when using hormonal methods like Depo-Provera or NuvaRing. The same thing happens with women who use injectable contraceptives (the shot). So why does this happen? Well, there are two main reasons. First off, hormones play an important role in our boob health. Secondly, we produce more milk while breastfeeding when our bodies are producing higher amounts of estradiol, which is what makes pregnancy possible after ovulation. But how do these changes in hormone levels affect our boobs? Let’s take a look at the process.
Breast tissue grows through three different types of cells: lobules, ducts and fat. Lobules secrete milk from the ducts. Ducts connect lobules together. Each type of cell responds differently to fluctuations in sex hormones. For example, estrogen stimulates growth of all three cell types. It increases blood flow, which helps nourish the blood vessels that bring nutrients and oxygen to the nipple. And as previously mentioned, estrogen also enlarges the size of the mammary gland ducts, so they become capable of holding more fluid. As a result, the milk glands produce more milk.
The problem comes when estrogen levels drop too low. When this occurs, the body begins shutting down its reproductive system, including the mammary glands. At first, only the nipples will shrink, but eventually other parts of the breast will follow suit. Since the ducts have been enlarged by estrogen, they’ll be more susceptible to the shutdown. In addition, since the lobules aren’t receiving any new blood, they won’t receive enough nutrients. Eventually, the lobule walls will begin to break down, causing pain.
While painful, it’s not actually harmful. You may experience mild discomfort, especially if you’ve had mastectomies. However, you should consult with your doctor before taking over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or aspirin. These drugs could interfere with pregnancy prevention medication. Your best bet would be to apply cold compresses, try hot baths or massage therapy to alleviate the pain. If you find yourself dealing with painful periods, talk to your gynecologist about whether your symptoms might indicate anything else besides just PMS.
In the next section, we’ll discuss some ways to prevent breast tenderness from happening.
If you want to avoid breast tenderness altogether, consider trying out natural menstrual cycles rather than hormonal ones. Natural cycles occur without the help of manmade chemicals. Also known as “unconventional” cycles, natural methods include acupuncture, herbs, Chinese medicine, diet and exercise. Some people choose to skip their period entirely and rely solely on contraception to regulate their menses. Other individuals choose to start having unprotected sex earlier in their cycle instead of later.
Period Pain Relief Methods
Pain relief varies depending on the individual. One way to relieve pain is to cut back on caffeine intake. Caffeine affects the central nervous system, which means it has an effect on mood. Cut back on coffee, tea and soda, and opt for decaf versions of each. Another option is to eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, as well as calcium and magnesium. Omega-3 oils can reduce inflammation, which can make the breasts hurt less. Calcium and magnesium are essential minerals that help build strong bones. Eating lots of leafy greens, nuts, fish, beans and legumes can provide plenty of vitamin A and K to keep your body healthy. Finally, drink lots of water throughout the day to stay hydrated. Drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes can dehydrate you, making your breasts feel worse.
You don’t need to change your lifestyle overnight; one of the easiest things you can do is to add a multivitamin to your daily routine. Multivitamins contain antioxidants that fight free radicals, which can damage tissues. Free radical fighting vitamins include selenium, beta carotene, lycopene and zinc.
If you still experience severe pain, see your physician. He or she may prescribe anti-inflammatory pills. There are many prescription and nonprescription options available. Try to stick with NSAIDs that contain acetaminophen, as well as those that offer extra strength. Ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin, Icy Hot, Pepto-Bismol, Ben Gay, Voltaren and Naprosyn are examples of NSAID/acetaminophen combinations. Ask your pharmacist about the ingredients contained within each product, and read labels carefully to determine dosage instructions. Be careful not to exceed the maximum dose recommended by your doctor.
For more information on treating painful periods, contact your local Planned Parenthood clinic. They can refer you to a medical professional who specializes in family planning.
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