woman with breast tenderness or breast pain

Breast Tenderness

What causes breast tenderness?

The short answer as to what causes breast tenderness is hormone imbalance. Both estrogen and progesterone have effects on breast tissue.  The hormone imbalance is often estrogen dominance, which is relatively higher estrogen and lower progesterone.  Although, higher levels of progesterone can also cause breast tenderness.   Some women will find that their breasts hurt from ovulation onward, where others will find it only occurs a few days before their period starts.

Breast cancer must be ruled out as a source of breast pain, particularly if there are other abnormalities, like a breast that doesn’t move normally, inversion of the nipple or discharge from the nipple.

Breast tenderness is often worse in the week before menstruation, that is during PMS (just to add to the fun). During this week there is supposed to be a sudden drop in both estrogen and progesterone, the sudden drop of one without the other may explain why there is breast tenderness.  How do these levels drop?  Through the liver.

How is the liver involved in breast tenderness?

The liver is responsible for phase I and phase II detoxification of estrogen.  Efficient liver processing of hormones requires vitamin B6, vitamin B12, 5MTHF (a special, active form of folic acid), indole-3-carbinol (a nutrient found in broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower), sulfur (found in garlic, onions, eggs), and calcium-d-glucarate.  Many of these substances are found naturally in cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale), apples, grapefruit, garlic and onions. Dietary sources of these substances may be inadequate in women with breast tenderness in which case I recommend supplementation.

Evening Primrose Oil has also been shown to help relieve breast tenderness.

Tests that may be helpful for breast tenderness:

day 3 LH, FSH, estradiol, estrone and day 21 progesterone, a breast exam should be performed to rule out a breast mass and if in doubt, a mammogram should be done.