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Breast pain

There are many reasons breasts can be painful. Breast pain by itself is unlikely to be a symptom of cancer.

Symptoms of breast pain caused by periods:

  • dull, heavy or aching pain – from mild to very bad
  • pain that begins up to 2 weeks before a period, gets worse and then goes away when the period ends
  • usually (but not always) affects both breasts and sometimes pain spreads to the armpit

How to ease the pain yourself

Do

  • take paracetamol or ibuprofen, or rub painkilling gel on your breasts

  • wear a properly fitted bra during the day and a soft bra to sleep in

There's little evidence that vitamin E tablets or evening primrose oil help with breast pain.

Sometimes breast pain is caused by:

  • injuries or sprains to the neck, shoulder or back – these can also be felt as breast pain
  • medicines like the contraceptive pill and some antidepressants – check the side effects in the packet's information leaflet
  • conditions like mastitis or a breast abscess – these can cause breast pain along with other symptoms
  • pregnancy – breast pain can be an early sign

Hormone changes during the menopause can cause breast pain.

Once the menopause is over (you've had 12 months without a period), the pain should not return.