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Why do my breasts hurt so much?
January 23, 2011 6:09 PM   Subscribe

YANAD, but why do both my breasts hurt so much? They have been very tender and swollen for about two weeks. I am a 22 year old female, and I am not on any hormonal birth control. My last period finished on January 7th and was completely normal, so I don't think I'm pregnant. My breasts do typically get very sore and swollen up to a week before my period, but usually not quite to this extent.

I have been having problems with recurrent UTIs and recently finished another round of antibiotics to treat the latest one (I'm not sure if this is relevant). The soreness and swelling is evenly distributed over each breast, and I cannot feel any lumps, and don't see anything else strange or unusual (nipples are the same color and look fine, etc.) What could be causing this? Should I rush to see a doctor right now, or can I just wait for it to go away? Thanks for your help.

I am a 34D.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Have you been overdoing caffeine lately? For some (like me!), caffeine intake can have a pretty significant effect on breast pain, especially in the week before a period.

Since there are no palpable lumps, visual changes, or discharge (I'm assuming), and since it's evenly distributed, it is probably just hormonal. But personally, unless I had a gyn visit coming up really soon, I would call over to the gyn's office tomorrow and ask to speak with a nurse. I have found this really helpful in the past. They should be able to tell you if it's worth swinging by for a visit now or waiting awhile.
posted by dayintoday at 6:15 PM on January 23, 2011


Mine have phases like that. I am on HBC and have been for, oh, 7 years without a break now, so really my hormonal situation ought to be pretty steady, but sometimes my breasts just have a weird week where they're enormous and hurty. I can tell you it's always gone away and I've never had an abnormal breast exam.
posted by little light-giver at 6:20 PM on January 23, 2011


You say you don't "think" you're pregnant. Do you "know for sure" you're not pregnant? It's probably smart to rule that out, since swollen tender breasts are one of the first very early preggo signs.
posted by katypickle at 6:23 PM on January 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


Have you been exercising or, uh, bouncing more than usual lately? I ask because January is prime time for people to pick up a new exercise plan, and things like running, jumping jacks, aerobics, etc. (especially without great support) can certainly make the breasts feel sore.
posted by vytae at 6:24 PM on January 23, 2011


Every time I have ever complained to my doctor about breast pain, I was told it was due to caffeine intake. Every. Single. Time.
posted by raisingsand at 6:27 PM on January 23, 2011


Usual disclaimers. Water retention, maybe? One of the places that I get fluid buildup when I'm dehydrated is my breasts.
posted by gingerest at 6:29 PM on January 23, 2011


FWIW my first two symptoms when I had my first pregnancy were sore breasts AND I thought I had a uti.

Take a pregnancy test just to be sure.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:40 PM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I gained some weight recently and dealt with some pretty significant breast pain as a result. Have you gained anything recently?
posted by TooFewShoes at 6:46 PM on January 23, 2011


I have really regular periods, except maybe once or twice a year when the days are especially short or long, and then I'll have a really short cycle with pretty intense PMS. It just happened a few days ago.

But if you don't have any other PMS symptoms, you might want to pick up a pregnancy test.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:22 PM on January 23, 2011


The first time this happened to me 8 years ago I turned out to be (oops!) pregnant.

Since then, I have 75% of the time ended up with a lot of tender boobage in the week or so before I get my period.
posted by bibliogrrl at 7:45 PM on January 23, 2011


Many women still have period-like bleeding in the beginning of their pregnancies...so it can be deceptive. Just clarifying in case you think all the people suggesting pregnancy tests hadn't noticed that you had a period recently....
posted by taff at 7:57 PM on January 23, 2011


I know you had your period, but you have also been on antibiotics, which can mess with hormonal birth control, so I'd pick up an over-the-counter pregnancy test if I were you. If that's negative, and you go another week with sore breasts, I'd consider a visit to the ob/gyn.
posted by misha at 8:19 PM on January 23, 2011


Oh, crap, I misread that; I see you say you are NOT on hormonal birth control. I'd still take the pregnancy test, though, just to rule it out!
posted by misha at 8:20 PM on January 23, 2011


I'm nthing the pregnancy test. I've been pregnant twice and each time the first symptom was sore breasts even before a missed period.
posted by chiababe at 8:56 PM on January 23, 2011


i get super sore breasts that start anywhere from right before ovulation to right after and run right up until day 3 of my period. this all started with vigor somewhere around 22. before that, nary a tender breast - after that, well, sometimes for half the month i can barely touch them they hurt so much.

and yeah, doc said "hormonal changes as you get older and caffeine intake."
posted by nadawi at 9:13 PM on January 23, 2011


I (the OP) just took a pregnancy test, and it came out negative (thank goodness-- I'm not ready for wansac jr. yet). Thanks for your advice so far. I will probably call a nurse tomorrow.
posted by wansac at 11:41 PM on January 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


I just spent ten days with breasts so tender I couldn't fall asleep at night. I was slightly concerned because it was early for me (I normally feel pain for about 5-7 days before my period), but I eventually did get my period and it all magically went away like it always does. My GYN says, as usual, hormonal changes and coffee. Pain started when I was 22 and I am almost 26 now. Just gets worse as I get older.

The day length explanation is an interesting one, I have noticed a correlation myself.
posted by lydhre at 2:38 AM on January 24, 2011


It might be too early for a pregnancy test. Usually you can test with relative accuracy on the first day of your missed period.
posted by Sassyfras at 7:08 AM on January 24, 2011


When I was 22 I jumped from a DD cup to a G cup basically overnight, for no good reason. Not pregnant, not on the Pill, no weight gain. Just ginormo boobs. You may just be going up a cup. I tell you this because at 22, despite evidence to the contrary, you may still have a splash of growth left in you and it's always good to know you aren't alone.

Sassyfras has a point though. See what the nurse has to say about that.
posted by Jilder at 9:58 AM on January 24, 2011


@ Jilder: Good to know. I was wondering if something like that could be going on. I've actually cut down on coffee recently. Today they are basically a cup size bigger than they were a few weeks ago, and they actually hurt LESS than before... its really weird to look in the mirror right now...

@ Sassyfras: Yes, I thought of that also. I left a voicemail for the nurse a bit ago.

Thanks again everyone.
posted by wansac at 11:12 AM on January 24, 2011


II understand that tender achy breasts have to do with yo-yo-ing hormones where your estrogen level drops and rises disproportionately to your progesterone level. The first time you get tender achy breasts is often not the first time you get pregnant; it happens when you start to develop breasts and your new female hormone production has not yet become stable. Any one remember the delicate breast buds that made lying face down a startling and uncomfortable experience? Then the same thing happens to some women with menopause. Hormone production becomes unstable and ow! So these are the three times when breasts commonly get tender and they are all hormonal.

If you did anything that might have caused your hormones to go haywire - ate a lot of soy, took some unusual herbal supplement, had sudden sex when previously you were celibate, been close enough to another women to smell her sweat, lost or gained a chunk of weight, spend time around a baby... any of those could perhaps be the cause of it.

Have you checked to see if you are lactating? Not likely unless you have been pregnant in the past and recently spent 12 or more hours with a baby distracting your attention, but if you can coax a little fluid out that will tell you something.

If you have never nursed and are not nursing your are extremely unlikely to have mastitis -infected milk ducts. That can lead to a swollen and sore breast. But it doesn't commonly lead to two swollen and sore breasts at the same time. Did you do anything that might have introduced bacteria into the pores in your nipples, for example squeezing the oil glands that produce the bumps around your areolas or pulling out hairs?

When you see your doctor (assuming you have coverage) I'd definitely suggest you talk hormones.
posted by Jane the Brown at 11:22 PM on January 24, 2011


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