Why Do My Nipples Hurt Before Period
You’re not expecting it, but your nipples start hurting before you get your first period. It could be embarrassing if no one else notices — or even worse, they do notice — so what’s going on?
While some women are lucky enough to experience their periods for only two weeks out of each month, many women have more frequent cycles that last longer than 21 days. The average cycle lasts 28 days, which means most women will experience at least three full menstrual cycles in their lifetime. And while there may be several different reasons why your nipples hurt before your period, the underlying factor remains the same across all women: both estrogen and progesterone levels increase just before a woman’s period starts.
Estrogen increases blood circulation throughout the body, including the breasts. This hormone can cause ducts within the breasts to dilate and grow larger. Progesterone, another female sex hormone, also stimulates the breasts. With increased size comes an increased amount of fluid produced by the mammary gland, causing the breasts to become enlarged and sensitive.
This effect doesn’t happen immediately after menstruation begins. Instead, the swelling occurs as soon as about eight to 12 hours later when estrogen levels begin to rise. As with other parts of the body, nipple sensitivity varies from person to person. Some women find that their nipples respond well to cold temperatures, while others don’t like anything cooler than room temperature. Your best bet is to try everything out yourself and see what works best.
If your nipples hurt frequently, especially right before your period, keep reading to learn how you can relieve the discomfort.
Nipple Pain Relief Options
There are many ways to relieve the discomfort associated with nipple soreness before your period. However, you’ll want to take care to avoid any medications or over-the-counter products that contain steroids. Steroids reduce inflammation and treat infections, but they can also thin the skin surrounding the nipples. If you’re taking oral contraceptives, you should consult with your doctor before using topical ointments. They can help ease irritation caused by hormonal changes. You can use lotions containing lanolin, petroleum jelly, witch hazel, or tea tree oil to soothe irritated skin. Avoid rubbing your nipples too much, and remember that the skin around the nipples has thinner tissue than other areas of the body, meaning it’s more susceptible to injury. Finally, soak a small towel in warm water and apply it to your nipples to provide relief.
The following tips will help you deal with nipple discomfort until your next scheduled period:
Wear loose clothing made of breathable fabrics such as cotton instead of tight, constricting materials. Loose clothes allow air to circulate under the fabric, keeping your skin cool and reducing painful chafing.
Use gentle soap and shampoo. Wash your hair gently rather than vigorously to prevent drying out your scalp and irritating your scalp follicles. Shampooing excessively can irritate the sebaceous glands, leading to oily skin. Avoid harsh soaps that strip moisture from your skin. Rinse off any residue thoroughly. Don’t use dryer sheets, peroxide, bleaches, or dyes on your hair because they can damage the scalp follicles. Also, steer clear of conditioners that contain alcohol. Alcohol dries out your scalp and thins the skin, resulting in itchiness, flaking, red patches, and scaling.
Avoid wearing tight bras. Bra straps dig into the upper chest area, causing irritation. Try slipping a silk scarf between your bra and torso to eliminate contact points.
Don’t smoke. Smoking reduces oxygen flow through your lungs, depriving your skin of vital nutrients. In addition, nicotine constricts capillaries, further restricting oxygen supply.
Drink plenty of fluids. Drinking lots of fluids helps to flush toxins from your system. Sweating and urination are natural methods of detoxification; however, drinking excessive amounts of liquids can result in dehydration. When you drink fluids, make sure they aren’t sugary drinks, alcohol, or caffeinated beverages.
Eat foods rich in vitamin A and E. Vitamin A strengthens mucous membranes and protects against infection. Lutein and zeaxanthin protect eyesight and maintain healthy bones and teeth. Vitamins C and E improve circulation and strengthen connective tissues. Omega 3 fatty acids help regulate heart function, lower cholesterol, and promote healthy brain development.
Once your period arrives, read on to learn how you can cope with cramps.
A good way to relieve nipple soreness is to massage away the pain. Start by placing your fingertips directly below your nipple and then slowly move upward toward your armpit. Move in circular motions, focusing on increasing pressure near the center of the painful spot. Repeat this process every day until the pain subsides. Be careful not to scratch or press down on your nipples too hard. Massaging your breasts regularly can also alleviate soreness.
Cramping During Menstrual Cycle Symptoms
During the course of your monthly cycle, the muscles in your uterus contract involuntarily, eventually forming spasms called uterine cramps. These contractions force waste out of the uterus and up through the cervix to exit the body. The severity of the cramps depends upon the type of cramp you are experiencing. There are four types of regular menstrual cramping patterns. Most often, cramping occurs in the abdomen, back, hips, and thighs. Cramps can occur anywhere along the pelvic floor, including the vagina and rectum.
Regular abdominal cramping occurs primarily in the front and lower regions of the abdomen. Abdominal cramping typically feels similar to having gas pains. The intensity of the cramping grows stronger toward the end of the cycle. Regular abdominal cramping usually lasts less than 30 minutes.
Back pain during cramping occurs in the middle region of the back, behind the rib cage. Back pain is described as dull and deep ache that goes straight through the bone. The pain can spread down either side of the spine and radiate outward to the shoulders, arms, and legs. Back pain tends to worsen toward the end of the cycle.
Hip pain occurs in the upper part of the hip socket, between the buttocks and the thigh bones (femur). Hip pain radiates downward to the knees and ankles. The intensity of the pain decreases toward the end of the cycle. Hip pain is often accompanied by a sharp intake of breath.
Leg pain occurs in the outer thigh and extends downward to the knee joint. Leg pain is very intense during ovulation and precedes orgasm. The severity of leg pain decreases toward the end of the cycle. Leg pain is commonly experienced by pregnant women.
For additional information about nipple pain, check out the links on the following pages.
To relieve vaginal cramping, lie flat on your back with your head resting comfortably against something soft. Place a pillow beneath your bottom to elevate your hips. To relieve hip pain, place a rolled blanket or thick towel underneath you. For leg pain, lie on your left side with your right leg bent at 90 degrees and place a pillow between your legs. Make sleeping positions comfortable by elevating your feet with pillows.
Pain relievers like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) can help relieve pain associated with cramping. Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated and avoid alcohol consumption. Dehydration can intensify cramping. Wear comfortable underwear, and wear pants whenever possible. Keep your bed elevated above waist level to minimize the risk of falling.
Itching, burning, stinging, and rashes can occur during certain stages of your menstrual cycle. Read on to discover how to cope with these unpleasant symptoms.
Some people who suffer severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS) may benefit from prescription birth control pills. Birth control pills work to balance hormones and therefore reduce PMS symptoms. While this method does seem effective, birth control pills carry potential risks. Women who use birth control pills must continue to practice safe sexual behavior to ensure pregnancy prevention. Side effects include weight gain, breakthrough bleeding, tiredness, headaches, nausea, and acne breakouts. Consult with your physician to determine whether birth control pills are appropriate for you.
Most women know that itchy rashes pop up before and during their period. But did you know that rashes can also appear before or during ovulation? Rashes can develop during ovulation due to fluctuations in hormones. Hormonal changes affect skin thickness, cell growth, and immune response. At times when skin becomes thicker, cells produce more melanin, which produces darker pigmentation. Thickened skin can trap bacteria and lead to pimples. Immune systems become weaker during ovulation, allowing foreign substances easier access to the bloodstream. Foreign invaders can enter the body through broken skin and cause allergic reactions.
Rash triggers vary among individuals. Certain allergies, stress, and emotional conditions can trigger itching, hives, or rashes. If you suspect that a rash might be developing, visit your dermatologist to receive a diagnosis and proper treatment. He or she can prescribe topical creams, antihistamines, cortisone, and other treatments tailored to your specific needs.
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