my breasts are growing!
May 2, 2006 3:28 AM   Subscribe

Should I be worried about my breasts?

I've noticed a change in my breasts in the last two days. I've always had large breasts (32J), and last week I got properly fitted for my first underwired bra (I've always worn nonwired ones before). When getting undressed for the bath on Sunday night, I found my breasts to be slightly painful and tender when 'hanging free'. They also seemed bigger than normal. There seems to be the same amount of skin there, but somehow there's more flesh underneath it. My breasts are still tender when I prod them, but only seem painful when I take the bra off. I can't feel any obvious lumps - just the overall size increase. The tender feelings are confined mostly to the upper part of my breasts, where the strain on the skin is greatest from the weight of them hanging. My new bra still fits, but it feels like it's fitting a lot more snugly than it fit in the shop last week.

As a bit of history, I've lost a significant amount of weight over the past two years, but in the last three months I've put a quarter of it back on. During the time I was losing weight, my periods stopped entirely. A month ago I had a bit of brown spotting for the first time all year, and last week I had a gusher of a period that lasted three days. (My normal cycle used to last five) I've been on the progesterone-only contraceptive pill for a year.

If this goes on, I will see my doctor, but I was wondering if the collective knowledge of MeFi could give me some ideas of the kind of thing I might be experiencing, and whether I ought to be very worried or just a little concerned?
posted by talitha_kumi to Health & Fitness (17 answers total)
Ignorant male here, but one assumes you aren't, or weren't, pregnant.
posted by krisjohn at 4:21 AM on May 2, 2006

Yeh. Is pregnancy possible? Beyond that, get thee to a doctor, pronto. May be nothing, but best to be sure, no?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:29 AM on May 2, 2006

I don't think it's likely that I'm pregnant, because of the period last week. I thought about buying a pregnancy test kit last night but decided against it. I'll think again about getting one today.
posted by talitha_kumi at 4:33 AM on May 2, 2006

Around when I get my period my breasts become a lot fuller and more tender. It's usually right before, but perhaps it's after for you? If you have never experienced this before, it's possible the weight loss and re-starting of your cycle has led to different reactions of your body to menstruation.
posted by schroedinger at 5:17 AM on May 2, 2006

Lose the underwire bra for a while, that's a lot of weight to be putting on the wire.
That's just until you can make an appointment and show it to someone who knows about these things.
Also, you didn't say if you had quit taking progesterone, but if so, mine hurt too. (I got a 3 month shot, and by the time that wore off, it was over with.) No matter why they hurt, it's common to notice it more when you remove the support.
posted by deep_cover at 5:30 AM on May 2, 2006

The lack of periods while you were losing weight is probably of greater concern than the breast swelling and tenderness (which is common if your cycle goes wacko for any reason.) Did your doctor know about this? (The lack of periods, I mean.)

In terms of how much to worry, you can probably wait until your next period to see how normal it is before going to the gyn. But make the appointment now.
posted by desuetude at 5:38 AM on May 2, 2006

So you got fitted for your new bra, which is good. As for me, I tend to keep an extra tough bra for my PMSsy times. It has an extra hook and eye in the back and is made of a nonflexible nylon (yes it is as ugly as all hell) which tends to make it more supportive around the band, which is where it really counts.
As for the root of the problem, what with the weight loss and the pill, it sounds like you and your doctor need to work together to find out if this pill suits you, or if there is better one out there for you body.
posted by Sara Anne at 6:30 AM on May 2, 2006

The progesterone only pill could be causing most of the symptoms. Is this an implant? You say you've been on it for a year, but if it is an implant it may be starting to fail.

Progestin only pills tend to have more side effects including the spotting (breakthrough bleeding) and breast tenderness.

See a doctor as a precaution, but I'm thinking there is a good chance it is little to nothing more than a temporary side effect.

There is also the matter of drug interactions if you are taking other pills or have recently begun one.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:48 AM on May 2, 2006

I don't know if you're interested in mere anecdotal information, but on the chance that you are, here is some: You don't mention your age, but two (small-breasted) women of my acquaintance had increased soreness/tenderness in their mid-late 30s, followed by a minor increase in breast size. In both cases, it took a few months to get past the soreness, but nothing untoward happened.

Neither of the women in question were significantly over- or under-weight, nor had they undergone noticeable changes in weight, nor were either using hormonal birth control.

It's possible that what you're experiencing is harmless, but considering the various other symptoms you're reporting why take the chance? Make a GYN appointment and bring this to the attention of someone who can help you.
posted by majick at 6:48 AM on May 2, 2006

I don't know, I feel like people are making this a little too complicated. It sounds to me like a very natural reaction your breasts would be having to a combination of changes--the rapid weight gain alone would probably make them sore and of course larger. Add to that a new bra which your breasts are trying to get used to while growing and dramatic menstrual activity...I'd be surprised if they weren't sore and swollen.

I agree with des that the irregular menstrual stuff sounds more worrying than the breast stuff--your breasts sound totally normal to me under the circumstances. But it also seems natural to me that your period would be messed up during a time of rapid weight loss. If you're worried, by all means go see your doc, of course.

And IANAD, blah blah. This is just based on my personal experience of having breasts and periods.
posted by lampoil at 7:11 AM on May 2, 2006

I got a new, almost push up, bra for christmas. Now around my period, my breasts become so tender right after i take it off that i have to lay down to get them to lay flat. It seems very much like they were pushed too high and they just need to readjust. My soreness happens in the exact same way you discussed yours and I overflow out of the cups. I'm certainly no J, but i am a 36dd. I figure I'm just going to get a more relaxed 'teeshirt bra' for the couple of days before, during, and after my period.

I kind of remember having the same issue when I first started wearing underwires (I was 11 or 12 and already a C cup).
posted by nadawi at 7:17 AM on May 2, 2006

Definitely try switching out the bra for a few days and see if anything changes. I am completely used to underwires now, but I remember an uncomfortable adjustment period.
posted by whatnot at 7:57 AM on May 2, 2006

As far as the loss of period, this happens sometimes when people lose a lot of weight. Your body tries to conserve by not ovulating or menstruating. Its one of the things tha happens in situations of great weight loss like anorexia. you don't have to be skinny to be anorexic, just lose 15% of your weight in a short time and an unhealthy way. not that i'm implying you're anorexic, but the fact that you went that long without menstruating should be something you bring up to an obgyn. and while you're there, you can ask about the breast changes, since its better safe than sorry.
posted by gilsonal at 8:18 AM on May 2, 2006

Go to a doctor. You might have mastitis. (All the articles say it's a problem for lactating women, but trust me, non-lactating women can get it too.)
posted by liet at 8:56 AM on May 2, 2006

Progesterone tends to cause breast tenderness. It's released by the corpus luteum, which forms after you ovulate, and tends to be higher in the second half of your menstrual cycle. Progesterone also causes breast tenderness during early months of pregnancy. Since you're on a progesterone pill, it sounds like that could be the culprit. I'm not sure if that prevents you from ovulating (don't see how it could?), so you might have a double dose of progesterone both from your pill and from having ovulated.

If you just had a period last week, you're probably not pregnant -- unless the bleeding you experienced was something called implantation spotting, where you can have a mild amount of bleeding or spotting as a fertilized egg implants in your uterine wall. (Sounds unlikely given your description of your period last week; implantation spotting is light.)

I would take a pregnancy test to be sure and contact your doctor if you aren't having your hormones monitored already.

(PS I also lost a significant amount of weight and never had accompanying breast tenderness, but I have noticed it after ovulation and during pregnancy.)
posted by stonefruit at 1:36 PM on May 2, 2006

I'm only a B-cup, but I notice fluctuations in breast size and tenderness at different times of the month, presumably from hormonal shifts.

If your body's changed that much, it's not surprising that your menstrual cycle (and your breasts) are changing.

...Also, this hasn't been suggested, and I'm not sure if it's an issue, but some women notice an increase in size and tenderness if their breasts have been touched/grabbed a lot.

In conclusion, I wouldn't worry about the breast thing unless it doesn't go away.
posted by SoftRain at 10:00 PM on May 2, 2006

An update - I did a home pregnancy test kit yesterday and it was negative. So I'm not pregnant. That's a huge relief. The tenderness seems to be fading, although they still feel too big. So I'm going to keep an eye on it (not that I really have much choice considering they're attached to me!) and go to the doctor if anything changes. And I'm going to try not to worry about it. Thanks everyone.
posted by talitha_kumi at 1:57 AM on May 3, 2006

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