Why Do My Boobs Hurt? Here's What's Causing You Breast Pain, From Your Period To Sex

I think of myself as having a pretty high pain tolerance, but I am a complete whimp when it comes to my breasts hurting. Ouch! Whether it's taking a hard soccer ball kicked into your boob, or a strong hot shower when your nipples hurt, I've always found it to be a special kind of pain. But what are the causes of breast pain? Why are there are times when my boobs are definitely more sensitive, sore, and painful than others? I know it can be linked to my period somehow, at least part of the time, but I've never really understood how or why that is. And what about the times when you're not getting period — why are they sore then? So, here's a look at breast pain and the various explanations behind it, because there are a ton of things that affect how your breasts feel.

Firstly, there are two types of breast pain women experience: Cyclical and non-cyclical. Cyclical makes up about 75 percent of reported breast pain and is tied to your menstrual cycle, where non-cyclical can occur after you have had a biopsy or another event that affected the breast. Let's take a look at the two types of breast pain.

Cyclical breast pain:

This is the pain that, as the name suggests, is tied to your cycle and most women will experience it at some point. Changes in estrogen and progesterone levels around your period can make your breasts swell and retain water, leaving them more sensitive and tender, especially just before menstration. (It's normally a sign to me that my period is coming.) For most people it ends as soon as your period goes away, and most women find that it ends once their cycles end with menopause.

Occasionally, if monthly pain is coupled with not just swelling but a lumpiness, it can be fibrocystic breast condition. Normally cysts and scar tissue occurring in the breast, this is not cancer and will actually affect most women at some point, most commonly between the ages of 30 and 50. While in some cases surgery is recommended, normally it will be suggested that the patient use diet, heat packs, ibuprofen, and other pain management treatments instead.

Non-cyclical breast pain:

There are a variety of reasons you may experience breast pain outside of your cycle. It is common for pain to occur after you have had a biopsy or another event that affected the breast. It has also been linked to certain medications and certain arthritic pains that feel as though they are happening in the breast, although in reality are stemming from the rib cage. I would also add that because your pain threshold increases during sex sometimes to find the reason for my phantom breast tenderness I just need to think back to what happened the night before. It didn't hurt at the time, but it can haunt you in the shower the next morning.

Normally breast pain isn't a sign of anything larger, but the National Breast Cancer Foundation suggests you contact your doctor if you are having breast pain combined with any of the following:

  • "Bloody or clear discharge from your nipple
  • A new lump with the onset of the pain; lump does not go away after your menstrual period
  • Persistent, unexplained breast pain
  • Signs of a breast infection, including local redness, pus, or fever"

Images: lauren rushing/Flickr; Giphy