Why Are My Breasts Sore Before My Period? 7 Things That Might Be Causing The Pain

Those chips you're crunching while you're PMSing? They could be causing soreness.

sore breasts getty

"Why are my breasts sore?" It's a question many women ask themselves, especially if they're suffering from sore breasts before period cycles.

I have dealt with severe pain and sore breasts for the past few years because I have fibrocystic breasts. I didn't know, however, that I had fibrocysts until I ended up with a painful lump after my yearly breast exam and had to go for an early mammogram.

RELATED: 10 Things Your Breasts Are Trying To Tell You About Your Health


In general, it's not unusual to have tender breasts before your period, but why does it happen in the first place? And what else could be causing you to have general breast pain? Here are 10 things that could be causing your breast pain:

1. Progesterone



During the second half of your menstrual cycle, your progesterone levels rise. In particular, these levels rise the week before your period. When progesterone levels rise, this causes your milk ducts to swell. Translation? It can make your breasts very tender.

2. Estrogen

And while your progesterone levels rise the week before your period, your estrogen levels peek in the middle of your cycle. According to Dr. Alyssa Dweck, a New York gynecologist, estrogen is directly responsible for your breast soreness and enlargement.

That very full feeling your breasts have midway in the month? Thank estrogen for that "full" look.


3. Your diet

And while you are experiencing PMS, that time period right before your menstrual cycle starts, you may be eating saltier foods (potato chip cravings, anyone?), which can increase water retention... and breast soreness.

4. Extra caffeine consumption

Another biggie that Dr. Dweck points out is that while PMS causes many women to feel fatigued, it also causes many of us to compensate with extra caffeine. Extra caffeine is a big culprit for breast pain.

5. Pregnancy symptoms



You think your period is on its way, but life may be throwing you for a different loop: pregnancy! Sore breasts before your period really could just be a symptom of early pregnancy.

RELATED: 7 Things Every Woman Should Know About Her Areolas

6. Menopause

Sore breasts can also be a sign of menopause, which is the end of your period for good.

7. Your workout routine

In addition to those Doritos you've been snacking on, estrogen and progesterone, and extra lattes to manage your PMS fatigue, if you're also working out and training your upper body and pectoral muscles, you may feel more pain before your period.

8. Fibrocystic breast changes

The old school-terminology for this was Fibrocystic breast disease, but now, according to the Mayo Clinic, because it's so common for women to experience, they dropped the word "disease" and refer to this as "changes." Basically, fibrocystic breast changes are when you get very painful lumps prior to your menstrual period.


The Mayo Clinic defines the symptoms of fibrocystic breast changes as:

  • Lumps or areas of thickening that blend into the surrounding breast tissue
  • General breast pain or tenderness
  • Breast lumps that fluctuate in size along with your cycle

These lumps are not cancerous. It's common for women to experience these fibrocystic changes. OBGYNs recommend taking Vitamin E to help with the pain and to avoid chocolate, cheese and wine in large increments before your period. A pretty steep ask, don't you think?

9. Medication

Medications that have estrogen can trigger breast pain, so be sure to check your meds list if you have excessive soreness.

10. Lactation

Lactation can cause breast pain, as well as when your milk "comes in" right after giving birth. When your breasts are enlarged from having milk, there's no doubt it will cause pain.

RELATED: 15 Reasons You Have Sore Nipples (Or Are Experiencing Breast Pain, In General)

Laura Lifshitz will work for chocolate. The former MTV personality and Columbia University graduate is currently writing about divorce, sex, women’s issues, fitness, parenting, marriage and more for YourTangoNew York Times, DivorceForce, Women’s Health, Working Mother, Pop Sugar, and more. Her own website is frommtvtomommy.com.