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Breast pain (mastalgia) - all you need to know about it

Breast Pain, also known as mastalgia in clinical terms, is a common condition that affects about 70% of women at some point in their life. The breast pain may or may not be related to menstruation. 


Mainly, the pain occurs a couple of days before the periods or can last throughout the period. Though it afflicts nearly 70% of women, the pain rarely becomes severe enough to interfere with day-to-day activities. 


Mastalgia is often mistaken for breast cancer, but it is very normal. In case the pain becomes severe or occurs without menstruation, one must consult a doctor. In minor cases, medications can suffice.

Types of Breast Pain

1.  Cyclical Pain: 


Cyclical breast pain has a connection with the menstrual cycle. Since the female body prepares for pregnancy during the menstrual cycle, there is a hormonal change in the milk-producing cells in the breasts. This hormonal change leads to pain in the outer portion of the breast, where the milk duct tissue is located. 


Cyclical pain is widespread and happens to almost every menstruating woman. It can develop any time after a girl starts menstruating and stops after menopause. It can start a few days before the period and can last until the period ends. 


Cyclical pain requires no medical attention. But if the pain becomes severe, one can take the following measures as treatment-

  • Make sure to wear the correct sized, properly fitted support bra.
  • Massaging your breasts with anti-inflammatory drugs can help.
  • Taking painkillers and anti-inflammatory painkillers like paracetamol can help reduce the pain.
  • Make some dietary changes; add low-fat and high carbohydrate foods into your diet.

2.  Non-Cyclical Pain: 

Non-Cyclical breast pain has no connection with the menstrual cycle or hormonal changes. This pain occurs in a specific area of the breast. These pains can be consistent and can come and go randomly. Non-Cyclical pain usually affects women over the age of 40. 


These pains usually occur due to underlying conditions and need medical attention, depending upon the severity. They are caused due to the presence of cysts in the breast, physical injuries, infection, inflammation of the ribs, called Mastitis in medical terms, and pregnancy. There can be some dietary reasons behind this pain as well, like excessive intake of salt. Excessive intake of salt causes swelling in the breast as a result of fluid retention. 


The most alarming reason behind breast pain can be the presence of tumours, cancer, and lumps. It is sporadic that the pain is caused due to cancers or tumours, but if there is a lump that can be felt, there is a possibility of breast cancer. 


Usually, the pain goes away without requiring any treatment. In some cases, mild medication helps with the pain and is enough. But if the pain does not go away and is severe, one must seek the doctor’s advice.

Breast Cancer


Most of the time, women confuse normal breast pain with breast cancer. However, it is a myth that breast pain accompanies breast cancer. In fact, the foremost symptom of breast cancer is a painless lump. There is a highly unlikely chance that you have breast cancer if you have breast pains. 


However, it is okay to approach a doctor regarding regular breast pains if they are severe. You need immediate medical attention if you observe any of the following-

  • A lump in your breast or your underarms
  • History of breast cancer in the family
  • Any pregnancy-related symptoms
  • Swelling in breasts
  • Discharge from nipples


In the above-mentioned scenarios, one must consult with their gynaecologist since there might be a possibility of breast cancer. This condition requires immediate and timely medical treatment to prevent the spread of cancer. Breast cancer is a serious issue that requires treatment and proper care from a gynaecologist. 


What to do if You Have Breast Pain?

Normal cyclical breast pain may not be a severe issue, but it is necessary to care for oneself before the situation worsens. If you suffer from cyclical or non-cyclical pain, make sure to undergo the following procedures to ensure proper care of your breasts.

  • Undergo a complete breast examination.
  • Keep proper track of your menstrual cycle and breast pain, along with the intensity of pain with every preceding month.
  • Always wear the correct size bra. Wearing improper bra size can lead to discomfort and pain.
  • Keep mental stress in check.
  • In case of anything serious, you must consult with a gynaecologist who may advise you to undergo mammography.
  • Oral contraceptives and antibiotics help with breast pain.


Almost every woman goes through breast pain at one point or another in her life. Breast pain does not necessarily mean breast cancer. In fact, breast pains are very normal for a menstruating woman. However, if it concerns you, it is perfectly okay to consult with a doctor. 


One can undergo a proper check-up in case of anything serious. Normal and mild breast pain goes away on their own or can be kept in check with the help of mild medication. As long as the pain is not severe or interferes with your day-to-day activities, there is nothing to worry about. 


It is essential for women worldwide to take care of their sexual health and consult with an assurance gynaecologist when necessary without any hesitation. NHAssurance guarantees you the best medical help as and when needed.