Information about Breast Pain

Breast pain is a common condition - approximately 80% of women will experience breast pain at some point and this usually improves with time. Importantly, it is rarely caused by anything serious. The following information is intended to reassure you and provide you with sensible advice on how to manage the pain.

Why am I having pain?

For younger patients the majority of breast pain can be hormonal, in which case it may fluctuate with your periods.

Alternatively, the pain may be due to the weight of the breast and lack of appropriate bra support, or it may be muscular in nature.

All of these will improve with time. It is important to note that there are no specific tests for breast pain.

Some patients may worry about the risk of cancer causing the pain, however cancer rarely presents as pain on its own. For peace of mind, women over 50 are invited to attend for a mammogram through the NHS Breast Screening Programme.

What else can I do to ease the pain?

The first thing is to ensure you are wearing a well supporting bra. We recommend you see an experienced bra fitter as it is surprisingly common to be wearing an ill-fitting bra. Please follow the links on our main page for recommended videos about bra fitting, and a list of shops in Sheffield which provide a bra fitting service.

You mentioned hormones can cause pain, do I need to change my contraceptive methods or HRT?

No. NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) states there’s no benefit in changing your choice of contraception or HRT.

Is there anything else I could do? I have heard evening primrose can help.

Evening primrose used to be prescribed in the past, but a number of trials have since shown that it is no more effective than a sugar pill – the technical word is placebo. However, a sensible diet that is high in fibre and low in fat can help. Reducing your alcohol intake is also useful.

What do I do if the pain persists?

We recommend you wait for three months. If your symptoms continue, then a review in the clinic can be helpful.

For very severe pain that significantly impairs your daily activities, there are a number of treatment options, however these target your hormone levels and carry significant side effects. For example Cabergoline and Bromocriptine can cause serious nausea, vomiting and headaches; Tamoxifen is a breast cancer tablet that results in hot flushes, increased risk of blood clots, womb cancer and cataracts; whereas Danazol is a male hormone that causes increased body hair and an irreversible change to your voice. As such, out of the thousands of referrals with breast pain, only a handful of patients will be appropriate candidates for such treatments, which is why we recommend you wait first.

Please remember we can always see you if the problem persists. The bottom line is that most pain improves with time. Just remember to see a bra fitter as this the most important aspect in successfully managing breast pain.

Bra Fitting

Details are printed with permission of the retailer. Other services may be available but did not consent to be included in this list. If you know of a Bra Fitter that would like to be listed, please ask them to contact Sheffield Breast Centre on 0114 2713814.

Self Examination



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