Have you ever noticed that your breast feel lumpy or tender? A common reason that women come to their OBGYN is because they feel something different in their breast and are concerned. If you do notice something different in your breast you should visit your health care provider so that she can rule out breast cancer or other problems and also help you ease your symptoms.
Often, the issue will be something called fibrocystic breast tissue. Our breasts are made up of three different kinds of tissue: fibrous tissue supports the breast, glandular tissue is made up of milk ducts and glands, and fatty tissue which fills spaces between the other tissue and gives the breast its size.
We can blame hormones for making our breast feel sore and lumpy around the time our cycle is due. Hormones make glandular tissue swell which stretches fibrous tissue making breast feel sore and tender. Hormones can also cause fluid-filled lumps (cysts) to form. Don’t worry, cysts are not cancerous, but they are no fun! This is what we call fibrocystic breasts.
What can you do about them? Well, the first thing and most important thing is to be aware of your own anatomy. Self-awareness is crucial, and you should know how your breast normally look and feel. Every day when you shower just feel your breasts as you soap off. Also, look at yourself in the mirror after your showers. Keep up with when your symptoms occur. Is it always a week before your cycle that you feel sore and lumpy? Or is it all the time? This information is important to give to your provider so that a proper diagnosis can be made. You should be seeing your OB every year for an annual which includes a clinical breasts exam.
To relieve painful symptoms ACOG (The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) recommends wearing a well-fitted bra and taking Tylenol or Ibuprofen for pain relief. If you are on combined hormonal birth control (combined pill, patch, or the Nuva ring) you may opt to skip the placebo week.
If you do notice changes in your breast or think fibrocystic breasts are the culprit for these changes, see your OBGYN or WHNP so that you can be properly evaluated and treated.
From you friendly neighborhood nurse!