Breast pain can be a symptom of many different health conditions or a sign of natural hormonal fluctuations. Menopause-related discomfort may feel like an aching, tenderness, or burning sensation. Menopause can cause other symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal dryness.

During your reproductive years, sore breasts could be a sign of pregnancy or a signal that your period is about to start. This condition is called mastalgia.

Mastalgia means breast pain. Breast pain can be cyclical (corresponds with your menstrual cycle) or noncyclical (no relation to menstruation).

If you’re nearing menopause, you may also have sore breasts. Menopause is a transitional time when menstruation gradually slows to a complete stop due to hormonal changes in your body.

Menopause isn’t a sudden stopping point. It’s a gradual process that usually takes about 7 years. However, it may last up to 14 years in some people.

The time leading up to menopause is called perimenopause. This is when your periods become more irregular. Perimenopause usually begins when you’re in your 40s.

You’re generally considered to be in menopause after you haven’t had a menstrual period in a full year. During this time, you may experience a range of symptoms, from hot flashes to vaginal dryness and sore breasts.

Breast soreness related to perimenopause will likely differ from the soreness you may have felt at other times.

Menstrual breast pain usually feels like a dull ache in both breasts. It often occurs a few days before menstrual bleeding begins.

Breast pain during perimenopause is more likely to feel like burning or soreness. You may feel it in one breast or both breasts. Not everyone experiences breast discomfort in the same way. The pain may feel sharp, stabbing, or throbbing.

Other signs that you’re in perimenopause include:

Consult a healthcare professional

If you don’t think your symptoms are related to perimenopause, make an appointment with a doctor or other healthcare professional.

Seek immediate medical attention if you develop fever alongside any of the following symptoms:

  • chest pain
  • clear, yellow, bloody, or pus-like nipple discharge
  • increase in breast size
  • redness of the breast
  • visual changes in the appearance of the breast

Changing levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone are the usual cause of breast pain during perimenopause and menopause.

As you enter perimenopause, estrogen and progesterone levels rise and fall in unpredictable patterns before starting to taper off. The spikes in hormone levels can affect breast tissue, causing your chest to hurt.

Breast soreness should improve once menstruation stops and your body no longer produces estrogen. If you take hormone therapy to treat menopause symptoms, you may continue to have sore breasts.

Breast pain may be a side effect of certain medications, including:

  • selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI)
  • diuretics
  • digitalis preparations
  • methyldopa
  • spironolactone (Aldactone)

Breast soreness can also be caused by:

  • bra fit or construction, like an underwire
  • benign tumor (fibroadenoma)
  • cyst
  • infection
  • weight changes leading to increased breast size

Less commonly, breast or nipple pain could be related to certain breast cancers. It’s important to consult with a doctor or other healthcare professional if you experience any unusual or unexpected symptoms.

Your healthcare professional will most likely start by asking questions about the pain. You may find it helpful to keep a symptom diary and bring it to your appointment.

It can be helpful to track:

  • when and how often you have pain
  • what the pain feels like, such as sharp, burning, or aching
  • whether the pain comes and goes or is consistent
  • what makes the pain worse or better

Your clinician will likely perform a clinical breast exam, which involves feeling your breasts for any lumps or other changes. They may also order imagining tests, such as a mammogram or ultrasound.

If your healthcare professional finds a lump, you may need a biopsy. This test is performed by taking a sample of tissue from the lump. The tissue is sent to a lab, where a pathologist examines it to see if it’s cancerous or benign.

Once you have a diagnosis, you and your doctor can take steps to treat your pain.

Many people use over-the-counter medication, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) or acetaminophen (Tylenol), to help with acute pain and discomfort. A warm bath or shower or applying a heating pad may also help.

Some people turn to natural remedies for long-term symptom management. This may include:

  • acupuncture
  • increasing your intake of specific vitamins, including B vitamins and vitamin E
  • increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids
  • limiting or avoiding caffeine, especially if your symptoms are flaring up
  • supplementing with evening primrose oil, which contains omega-6 fatty acids

Always consult with your healthcare professional before adding a new over-the-counter medication, vitamin, or supplement to your routine. They can advise you on the correct dosage or a suitable alternative to reduce the risk of unwanted interactions.

Breast pain usually isn’t a sign of an underlying condition. In many cases, pain and discomfort will subside with at-home treatment. Perimenopause-related soreness generally stops after you enter menopause.

If your pain is severe, persistent, or accompanied by other unusual symptoms, it’s important to seek medical care. A healthcare professional can determine the underlying cause and discuss your options for treatment.