What causes sore nipples and sore breasts?
Sore nipples and/or sore breasts are something you may experience at various times in your monthly cycle. They can mean various things depending on what’s going on in your body at that time. So let’s talk about what sore nipples and sore breasts may mean for you.
Causes before menopause
There are 2 main reasons for sore nipples/breasts before menopause:
- Post-ovulation - During your menstrual cycle the 2 main hormones at work are:
- estrogen before ovulation and
- progesterone which starts to act around the time of ovulation
Progesterone causes water to be retained in the body. The main reason for this is to prepare the uterus for a possible pregnancy by making the uterus rich in water and food for the anticipated pregnancy. Unfortunately, this same effect is felt throughout the body. Storing of water in the breast tissue causes it to become stretched leading to painful breasts and sore nipples.
Sore breasts are much worse for some women than others. If you’ve had any trouble getting into your skinny jeans in the second half of your cycle, that’s what we’re talking about. If a pregnancy does not occur, progesterone levels start to fall about a week before your next period. Gradually, you pee out the water that your body has stored.
- Pregnancy – If the egg that is released from the ovary during ovulation is fertilized and starts to grow in the womb, then progesterone and estrogen levels will continue to increase to sustain the pregnancy. Of course this means that the breast tenderness will get worse. I had a comment in a previous article about menopause symptoms:
I actually have a question. I’m 44 and ttc. My nipples are sore and I ovulated 2 days ago. Is this a post-ovulation symptom? I really need to know so I don’t get my hopes up. Thank you for your reply.
If you start having sore breasts and nipples a few days after ovulation, you can’t assume that you’re pregnant. A good sign (if you’re trying to conceive that is!) is if the breast discomfort does not subside and the breasts continue to increase in size and your period is 7-10 days late. You still need to be a bit careful because, although pregnancy is the commonest cause of a missed period, there are other causes including extreme stress and perimenopausal changes.
Causes of sore nipples and painful breasts – menopause and sore breasts
Sore breasts and nipples can occur as part of what is known as the climacteric syndrome. Symptoms of the climacteric syndrome include:
- hot flashes,
- weight gain and bloating,
- mood changes,
- irregular menstruation,
- painful breasts
The climacteric syndrome is caused by wildly fluctuating hormone levels and irregular functioning of the ovaries.