Breast Tenderness: Causes & Symptoms

by Vanya Sharma last updated -

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Breast tenderness, in simple terms, means softness in the breast tissues that is accompanied by pain. It is characterized by discomfort, heaviness, soreness and increased the sensitivity of the breasts. Females approaching menopause, breastfeeding mothers, and those undergoing pregnancy or menstruation often suffer from breast tenderness.

Causes of Breast Tenderness (Breast Pain)

Breast tenderness can be caused by the following factors:

Breast Cysts

As a result of aging, fat replaces the breast tissue in a woman. This process is known as involution. Sometimes, as a side effect of this process, a cyst develops on the breast, which makes the breast lumpy and causes pain.


Sometimes, women experience breast pain caused by fluctuations in the hormones. Any abnormality in the estrogen and progesterone levels in the body can cause you to feel breast pain, lumpiness, swelling, etc. Breast tenderness is accompanied by hormonal fluctuations that are cyclic in nature.

The change in the levels of hormones can be attributed to several factors, some of which are mentioned below.

  • Menstruation
  • Puberty in girls as well as boys
  • Breastfeeding
  • When a female approaches menopause
  • Pregnancy, especially in females who are too young

Breast surgery

If you’ve recently gone through a breast surgery, then it is expected that you will experience some pain in that area.


Ill-fitted bra

Another reason for breast pain can be blamed on an ill-fitted bra. A size too small, or a size too big, can both be harmful to your breasts.


While breastfeeding, you can experience pain in the breasts. This pain is caused by an infection of the milk ducts. This is known as mastitis, and along with severe pain, it also causes cracking, itching, and burning on the nipples. Breastfeeding can also cause pain because of engorgement and improper latch.


Breast tenderness is a condition that arises just before menstruation occurs in females.

Other causes include:

  • Shoulder pain
  • Chest congestion

Symptoms of Breast Tenderness

Breast tenderness is characterized by following symptoms:

  • Swelling of the breasts
  • Sensitivity is increased when touched, or when pressure is applied
  • Discomfort when accompanied by movement
  • Soreness in breasts
  • Pain
  • Heaviness
  • Aching feelings

Even after childbirth, breasts swell due to the milk developing inside. This often leads to tenderness and pain, injury, premenstrual syndrome, mastitis, and alcoholism. Changes in the fibrocystic breast can also cause tenderness. Being cyclic in occurrence, breast tenderness is usually not a very serious issue, but in case nipples discharge pus or fluid, a mass or lump is felt, or if pain persists for a long time, then medical consultation should be obtained. Simple home remedies for breast tenderness are available that definitely provide relief from pain and discomfort to a large extent. Protection Status
About the Author

Vanya Sharma handles the medical expert collaboration for Organic Facts. A writer at heart, she joined the website while she was still pursuing her English Literature degree from IGNOU, Delhi, India. She is also responsible for the website’s monthly newsletter and website content and contributes to Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube regularly. Currently pursuing an e-course offered by Stanford University, ‘Introduction to Food and Health’, she aims to bring unbiased and helpful information to all those seeking to make their health and lifestyle a priority.  

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