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Why do your boobs feel tender or hurt before your period?

If you’ve ever noticed that before your period your breasts feel tender, heavy, or even hurt, you’re not alone! The hormonal fluctuations in your menstrual cycle can affect your boobs too (how fun!). It’s usually not a cause for concern, and anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen or naproxen are often enough to get you feeling like your normal self. If they’re not, there are some medications a doctor can prescribe that may help. But, if you also have lumps, brown or bloody nipple discharge, or very severe pain, that can be a sign of a larger problem that is worth seeing a doctor about.

What exactly can PMS do to your breasts?

The most common way for your breasts to be affected by PMS is for them to feel tender and heavy. Sometimes they can also ache or swell. If PMS is the cause, it will probably start at some point in the week before your period, and stop right around when your period starts.

Why can PMS cause breast tenderness?

Hormones! Isn’t it always the hormones? Progesterone, which is the hormone that rebalances with estrogen during PMS, can cause your milk glands to swell. Even if you’re not producing milk, that can hurt. If you’re finding boob troubles are happening a bit earlier in your cycle, estrogen might be to blame. Estrogen is at its highest at around the midpoint between periods, and estrogen can cause your breast ducts to enlarge, which may cause pain.

That said, lumps in either or both of your breasts, brown or bloody nipple discharge, and breast pain that is so severe that it stops you from living your daily life are all worth seeing a doctor about, as they can be signs of something more severe.

How can you treat it?

A lot of the time, anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen or naproxen can be enough to help. You can find these at your local chemist or supermarket (and they can also help menstrual cramps if you have that too). If these aren’t enough, there are a few more options, though they require a doctor’s visit. These can include:

  • Hormonal birth control, as it changes the natural balance of hormones in your body, which will likely stop the cause of your pain
  • Diuretics, which cause your body to release water, which can help prevent swelling
  • Sometimes, other medication can be prescribed, but check with your doctor to find out which may be right for you


Boob tenderness, swelling, and pain are common side effects of having female hormones. The hormones involved can cause parts of your breasts to swell, which can be painful. Thankfully, a medication like ibuprofen or naproxen is usually enough to help any discomfort or pain. If it’s not, a doctor can prescribe some other medications that can help, but if your pain is very severe, or you have any unusual breast discharge or lumps, that can be a sign of a bigger problem that we recommend talking to a doctor about.

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Post by Miranda Bromage