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5 Reasons for Breast Pain and Tenderness

A woman experiencing breast pain and tenderness

Breast pain and tenderness are sensations most women will feel at one point or another in their lifetimes. Whether they experience it at the start of puberty or during menopause, breast pain is commonly seen in any stage of life where hormones are fluctuating. To help you decipher what might be causing your breast pain and tenderness, we’re sharing some of the most common conditions associated with this discomfort: 

Hormonal Fluctuations 

Breast pain and tenderness are commonly associated with a fluctuation in hormones that can be caused by many different factors. A feeling of soreness or heaviness in the breasts is often seen around the time of menstruation. Some women experience breast tenderness before their period and see it subside once their cycle begins. The reasons for this change is due to a rise in hormones, more specifically estrogen, and progesterone. 

Estrogen and progesterone are two of the primary ingredients in hormonal birth control options, which makes breast pain and tenderness a common side effect of some hormonal birth control methods. In some cases, your body adjusts to the birth control, and the breast tenderness subsides on its own, but in other cases, you may want to switch your contraceptive.

If you are experiencing breast tenderness, it may also be due to a change in life stage. Different life cycles, like puberty and menopause, are times when rapid hormonal changes occur, leading to numerous side effects, including breast pain and tenderness. 

While this sensation is a normal part of menstruation, you can alleviate the pain by taking an over-the-counter pain reliever or by talking to your doctor about switching up your birth control method. 


Another time we commonly hear of breast pain and tenderness is in pregnancy. During the initial stages after conception, the body sees significant hormonal changes that can cause the breasts to remain sore during the first trimester as hormone production increases. Breast tenderness is typically one of the earliest signs of pregnancy for many women. This sensation, combined with other common signs such as a late or missing period and fatigue, are all indications that you may be pregnant. 

Side Effects of Medication

As we previously mentioned, hormonal contraceptives can cause breast pain and tenderness, but that’s not the only medication that has breast tenderness as a side effect. Other medications, including Oxymethone (a treatment for some forms of anemia), Chlorpromazine (used to treat various mental health conditions), and some diuretics (used to treat kidney and heart disease and high blood pressure), all list breast sensitivity and tenderness as possible side effects. 


If your breast pain is accompanied by redness, swelling, or fever, it is most likely caused by an infection. Conditions such as mastitis typically occur in breastfed women, but it’s possible for it to occur in other women as well. 

Breast Cancer

It’s important to note that breast cancer is typically painless, but in some cases, inflammatory breast cancer can cause pain. Inflammatory breast cancer is rare and amounts to only 1% – 5% of all breast cancer cases. If you are experiencing pain in addition to other side effects like a swollen, heavy breast and red or discolored skin, consult your doctor immediately.

Speak with A Green Valley OB/GYN Provider

While most causes of breast pain are normal and can be treated on their own, our team is always here to answer any questions you may have. Whether you’re experiencing changes in hormones, you think you might be pregnant, or you’re concerned with a possible infection, we are here to help! Give us a call or contact us online to set up an appointment with one of our providers at Green Valley OB/GYN