Breast tenderness is a painful symptom of both pregnancy and PMS. While some women do not experience painful breasts, many find that the tenderness that occurs during pregnancy is much worse than in PMS. Breast tenderness is primarily caused by hormonal changes that take place in the body, and during pregnancy there are heightened levels in hormones.
Causes During PMS
Breast tenderness during PMS occurs due to increased production of estrogen and progesterone. These hormones increase just before menstruation begins, causing growth of the milk glands in the breast. This results in painful tenderness or swelling. Pain begins just before menstruation and disappears either during or right after the menstruation is complete. The condition worsens if there is a family history of painful breast tenderness, or if your diet consists of high levels of fat or caffeine. (See References 1)
Causes During Pregnancy
After conception, milk ducts begin to form in the breast and they will increase in size due to fat buildup. This will cause the breasts to change shape and be tender, sore and swollen. The breasts will continue to grow throughout pregnancy, sometimes increasing two cup sizes. The increasing milk glands and extra weight will contribute to breast tenderness. Hormonal changes are also to blame, causing more blood flow and altering the breast tissue. (See References 2)
During PMS, the breasts feel dense and tender. The pain is anywhere from mild to severe. They may feel heavy and be sensitive to the touch. All of these symptoms occur during pregnancy as well, except with the added discomfort of sensitive nipples and itching. There will also begin to be veins visible on the breast as well as a bigger and darker areola, the area around the nipples. There may be noticeable bumps on the areola as well, as the breasts are preparing for breastfeeding.
The breast tenderness that is experienced during pregnancy and PMS are very similar. The tenderness resulting from pregnancy is usually more intense than the tenderness resulting from PMS, and it is combined with visible changes to the breast. Typically, if breast tenderness does not go away after two weeks, it is likely the result of pregnancy or a serious condition.
To relieve sore breasts during pregnancy, wear a bra with good support. Dietary changes will help as well. Limit your intake of fat and chocolate and eat high-fiber foods. For women who are not pregnant but still suffer from breast tenderness during menstruation, pain relievers may also be an option. Some doctors may prescribe birth control pills to help with hormonal balance. Taking water pills before menstruation may also help to reduce swelling.
- Photo Credit "Blue" is Copyrighted by Flickr user: Arwen Abendstern (Kate Weber) under the Creative Commons Attribution license.
When Does Breast Soreness Start in Pregnancy?
It's almost inevitable that there'll be a soreness of the breasts when you and your spouse get pregnant. It might be helpful...
Pregnancy Symptoms Vs. Menopause Symptoms
Have you missed your period, or had an unusually light one? Has your body going through any noticeable changes? In that case,...
What Are the Causes of Breast Tenderness & Swelling?
Experiencing breast tenderness and swelling for the first time or for an abnormally prolonged amount of time can be a somewhat jarring...
Can Stress Cause Breast Tenderness?
Breast tenderness, most commonly associated with Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), occurs when hormones are out of balance. Stress is just one of many...
What Are the Causes of Breast Soreness?
Breast pain can be cyclic or non-cyclic. Cyclic breast pain is based on the reproductive cycle: puberty, menstrual periods, pregnancy and peri-menopause...
Why Are My Breasts Sore Before My Period?
Breast pain is often a symptom of an impending menstrual period. This telltale sign leaves breasts and nipples achy, tender and sometimes...
PMS & Back Pain
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is the name of the symptoms that begin before a woman's monthly menstruation cycle. Certain symptoms, such as cramping,...
Tender Breast Symptoms
Breast tenderness is a common cause of discomfort among women, especially women who are lactating, although men may rarely develop symptoms. Fortunately,...
Hormones That Cause Tenderness of the Breast
It's a coin toss. For some women too much or too little estrogen can cause breast tenderness and pain while others suffer...
How To Help Tender Breasts Before a Period
Many women experience tender breasts before a period. This type of breast pain is called cyclical breast pain, and it is nearly...