Tender Breasts Before Period: Causes & Home Remedies


A common concern among women seen is premenstrual breast swelling and tenderness. The symptom is part of a group of symptoms known as premenstrual syndrome or PMS. Premenstrual breast swelling and tenderness can also indicate a sign of fibrocystic breast disease which describes painful, lumpy breasts prior to the menstrual period. Women with this condition often notice large, benign (noncancerous) lumps in the breasts prior to monthly periods. These lumps may move when pushed on and typically shrink once the period has ended.

PMS-related breast soreness can range in severity. Symptoms often peak just before menstruation begins after then fade during or immediately following a menstrual period. Most of the time, the symptoms are more of an annoyance than a serious medical concern. Nonetheless, whenever worried about the changes in the breasts, consult the doctor. Sore breasts can be a symptom of menopause and a variety of health-related conditions.

In this article:

Causes of Tender Breasts Before Period
Symptoms of Tender Breasts Before Period
Other Causes
Treatment for Tender Breasts Before Period
Home Remedies for Tender Breasts Before Period
When to See a Doctor

Tender Breasts Before Period: Should I Be Worried?

Causes of Tender Breasts Before Period

Fluctuating hormone levels are responsible for most episodes of premenstrual breast swelling and tenderness. The hormones rise and fall during a normal menstrual cycle. The exact timing of the hormonal changes varies for each woman. Estrogen causes the breast ducts to enlarge. Progesterone production causes the milk glands to swell. Both of these events can lead to breasts feel sore.


sore breasts before period

Estrogen and progesterone both are increased during the second half of the cycle – days 14 to 28 in a typical 28-day cycle. Estrogen peaks in the middle of the cycle whereas progesterone levels rise during the week before menstruation.

Symptoms of Tender Breasts Before Period

Tenderness and heaviness in both breasts are the major symptoms of premenstrual pain and swelling. Dull aching in the breasts can also be a problem for some women. The breast tissue could feel dense or coarse to the touch. Symptoms tend to appear the week before the period and disappear almost immediately when menstrual bleeding begins. Most women do not experience severe pain.

In other cases, breast tenderness affects the everyday routines of some women of childbearing age and is not necessarily connected to the menstrual cycle.

Due to the natural change in hormone levels that occur as a woman ages, premenstrual breast swelling and tenderness usually improves with time as menopause approaches. The symptoms of PMS can closely resemble those of early pregnancy, carefully distinguish between the two.


Other Causes

Medications that contain estrogen can also cause breast changes like tenderness and swelling.

Treatment for Tender Breasts Before Period

Premenstrual breast pain can be treated effectively with over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like –

  • Acetaminophen
  • Ibuprofen
  • Naproxen sodium

Women with moderate to severe breast swelling and discomfort should consult the doctor about the best course of treatment. Diuretics can reduce swelling, tenderness and water retention. However, diuretic medications increase urine output and can also increase the risk of dehydration. Use such prescriptions carefully under the doctor’s direction.

Hormonal birth control including oral contraceptive pills could also calm the premenstrual breast symptoms. Ask the doctor about these options if experiencing severe breast pain and not interested in becoming pregnant in the near future.


If the pain is severe, the doctor may recommend the drug Danazol which is used to treat endometriosis and symptoms of fibrotic breast disease. This drug can have serious side effects and complications so it should only be used if other treatments don’t work.

Home Remedies for Tender Breasts Before Period

Home remedies can also help manage premenstrual breast swelling and tenderness. Diet can play a role in breast pain. Caffeine, alcohol, and foods that are high in fat and salt can increase discomfort. Reducing or eliminating these substances from the diet in the week or two before the period may help manage or prevent symptoms. Certain vitamins and minerals may also help relieve breast pain, tenderness and related PMS symptoms.

Choose a variety of foods rich in these nutrients such as –

  • Peanuts
  • Spinach
  • Hazelnuts
  • Corn, olive, safflower, and canola oils
  • Carrots
  • Bananas
  • Oat bran
  • Avocados
  • Brown rich

The doctor may also recommend vitamin supplements.


When to See a Doctor

Sudden or worrisome breast changes should be discussed with the doctor. While most premenstrual breast pain and swelling are harmless, these symptoms could be warning signs of infection or other medical conditions. Contact the doctor if there is –

  • New or changing breast lumps
  • Discharge from the nipple especially if the discharge is bloody or brown
  • Breast pain that interferes with the ability to sleep or perform daily tasks
  • Unilateral lumps or lumps that occur only in one breast

The doctor will perform a physical examination including a breast examination and will ask for more information about the symptoms. The doctor may ask the following questions –

  • Have you seen any discharge from the nipple?
  • What other symptoms are present?
  • Does breast pain and tenderness occur with each menstrual period and regular?

During a breast examination, the doctor will feel for any lumps and will take notes about the physical qualities of the lumps. If asked, the doctor will show how to properly perform breast self-examination.

If the doctor detects any abnormal changes, a mammogram (or an ultrasound if under age 34) is performed. A mammogram uses an X-ray plate and a plastic plate and compressed or flattened to create a clear image. This test may cause temporary discomfort and pinching sensation. In some cases, a biopsy (tissue sample from the breast lump) may be necessary if lumps appear to be cancerous (malignant).


Premenstrual breast tenderness and swelling are often effectively managed with home remedies and medication when necessary. Discuss the condition with the doctor if home remedies and medications do not help.