Resources / Something you may notice in the menopause transition

Something you may notice in the menopause transition

Some women develop breast soreness during the menopause transition, and sometimes even after periods have stopped. This is very common and usually nothing to worry about. It may consist of a feeling of tenderness or mild discomfort, or a sharp or throbbing pain, and may occur in both breasts or just one. However, many other women experience no breast symptoms at all; every person’s experience is different. 

Although many women with sore breasts worry about cancer, soreness is not a common symptom of this. It’s important, though, to check your breasts regularly, looking out for lumps, changes in appearance, or any nipple discharge.

Though sore breasts are usually nothing to be worried about, they can be unpleasant and inconvenient.

Causes of sore breasts in menopause

During menopause, the ovaries start to produce less estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Changing hormone levels cause many of the symptoms associated with menopause, including sore breasts.

Breast tissue is sensitive to hormones, so fluctuations in hormone levels may lead to tenderness or pain in the breasts, similar to many people’s experience at puberty. After menopause, hormones generally level out, causing most women’s sore breast symptoms to ease.

Can sore breasts continue after menopause?

According to one 2012 study, an estimated 40% of women experience sore breasts related to menopause. Women who tend to experience sore breasts when premenstrual (cyclical breast pain), may find this pain or tenderness gets worse during perimenopause.

Breast soreness is more common in the lead-up to menopause (perimenopause) than in later stages. This is because estrogen levels start to stabilise after menopause (defined as no periods for 12 months).

What causes sore breasts after menopause?

Non-cyclical breast pain which follows no predictable pattern and is unrelated to the menstrual cycle, can occur for a number of reasons. This may be related to a specific problem, such as a cyst or trauma, inadequate bra support, a benign (noncancerous) tumour, or conditions outside the breasts, such as arthritis, or as a side effect of some medications. 

Regardless of age or stage of menopause, sore breasts are rarely a sign of breast cancer. However, it’s important to speak to your GP or a medical professional if you’re concerned.

How to treat sore breasts in menopause

Breast soreness during menopause can usually  be easily treated in a number of ways:

Anti-inflammatory painkillers

Anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen may be very effective for tender breasts. However, some women may be unable to take anti-inflammatories, especially if they’re taking certain types of medication or have particular medical conditions.  It’s always a good idea to check with a GP or pharmacist whether anti-inflammatory painkillers are safe for you to take.

Evening primrose oil

Evening primrose oil contains an essential fatty acid called gamma-linoleic acid (GLA) which has anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to relieve breast pain in some women.

 It should be noted that evening primrose oil may increase the risk of bruising and bleeding and may increase the risk of seizures in women with epilepsy..

A properly-fitted bra

A poor-quality bra that doesn’t give enough support can exacerbate breast pain and discomfort. Many department stores offer bra-fitting services to help women find good quality bras that give the right support.

Avoid caffeine and alcohol

Limiting intake of caffeine and alcohol may be helpful in reducing breast discomfort as has shown to be the case for other menopause symptoms, including hot flushes and night sweats. 

Weight loss

Women who are overweight may be more likely to experience breast pain.  Avoiding weight gain during menopause also helps to guard against some of the long-term health implications associated with menopause and estrogen decline, such as breast cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Specialist support for sore breasts and other menopause symptoms

Sore breasts are just one of many menopause symptoms that women may experience. But you don’t have to go through it alone. At NewWoman Health, we have menopause experts and medical specialists who can help you through this period of your life.

Whether you are approaching menopause, in the midst of it, or post-menopause, we will help you to manage and minimise your symptoms to ensure the quality and potential longevity of your future life.

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You are not alone. As a local example, in Manchester over 46% of council employees are female and over 40 years old. In a CIPD survey (2019) over 30% of women said they were unable to work because of menopausal symptoms.

Only 25% said they could tell their manager the real reason for their absence. The Council account for nearly 7% of all employment in Manchester. They implemented a new Menopause policy in March 2022. CIPD survey | Manchester Council Menopause Policy | CIPD Manchester

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