Many women have sensitive breasts every now and then. The increased sensitivity often causes discomfort and concern - especially before breast cancer. But in most cases there are relatively harmless causes such as the so-called "premenstrual syndrome" (PMS) or hormonal changes such as during pregnancy or during menopause. Accordingly, hypersensitivity can often be alleviated using natural home remedies or herbal supplements. If the symptoms last longer or occur independently of the cycle, they should always be clarified by a doctor.
Causes of sensitive breasts
An increased sensitivity of the breast or nipples causes uncertainty and fear for many women and often leads to a serious cause such as Think breast cancer. Instead, hypersensitivity is a very common phenomenon in this area and is usually relatively harmless. In many cases, the symptoms arise in connection with the female cycle (premenstrual syndrome) or pregnancy and therefore often represent a completely natural reaction of the body to physical or hormonal changes.
Increased breast sensitivity before the period
Before the menstrual period begins, many women experience various physical and psychological complaints. In addition to increased breast sensitivity, e.g. Symptoms such as fatigue, chronic fatigue, mood swings, a bloated stomach, headache and abdominal pain, constipation, irritability and depression are taken into account, which are summarized under the term "premenstrual syndrome" (short: PMS). This is one of the most common gynecological symptoms and affects up to three quarters of all women, especially in the age group of the late 20s to early 40s.
The symptoms can be very different and also vary in intensity from month to month. Accordingly, many women experience only slight impairments, but in other cases there may also be a particularly strong form of PMS, which is referred to as "premenstrual dysphoric disorder" (PMDS).
Exactly what exactly causes premenstrual syndrome has not yet been fully clarified. However, it is assumed that the complaints are caused by several factors, which is why the term “multifactorial” arises in medical terms. It is certain that the hormones have a certain influence, because the changes in the second half of the cycle lose the healthy hormonal balance. The "turning point" is ovulation, which refers to the expulsion of the mature, unfertilized egg from the ovary and takes place around the middle of the female menstrual cycle.
While the female hormone estrogen is primarily active before ovulation, in the second half there is an increased production of the luteal hormone progesterone and a simultaneous drop in the estrogen level. Especially in the last three to seven days before menstruation, the influence of progesterone predominates. More water is stored in the tissue, which can cause painful swelling of the breasts and other complaints such as swollen legs and hands or thick feet.
In addition, in the second half of the cycle there is an increase in the hormone prolactin, which is formed in the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland and stimulates swelling of the mammary glands (mastodynia). As a result, some women may experience increased breast sensitivity and uncomfortable pain.
In addition to the influences mentioned, a number of other factors are discussed which, both individually and collectively, can favor the development or exacerbation of a premenstrual syndrome. These include e.g. hypothyroidism, stress (e.g. due to problems in partnership and / or work, conflicts), the consumption of alcohol and nicotine, an unfavorable diet with too much sugar and caffeine, fungal infections, environmental toxins and a lack of physical activity.
Sensitive breasts during pregnancy
Swollen and sensitive breasts can be an early sign of pregnancy. The increased sensitivity can be very different and in severe cases can even lead to the t-shirt or nightgown being extremely annoying. The cause is hormonal changes, through which the breasts change shortly after fertilization. They become more sensitive, can hurt, feel tense, heavier and plumper. For most women, the nipple areas also become darker, and the blood vessels beneath the skin are often more clearly visible.
The main responsible here are the pregnancy hormones estrogen and progesterone, which enlarge the breast and slowly prepare it for milk production or later breastfeeding. The female breast consists largely of connective tissue, protective fat and mammary glands, the latter being a hormone-dependent organ, the task of which is to produce milk (lactation). In the course of pregnancy or the hormonal change, the mammary glands begin to develop stronger and the breast becomes larger. The connective and fatty tissue is displaced, but after breastfeeding, a large part of the milk-forming tissue is replaced by connective tissue.
In addition to the increased sensitivity of the breasts, there are a number of other indications that indicate that a baby is on the move. Early signs are e.g. Fatigue and exhaustion, dizziness, nausea and vaginal discharge. Likewise, there is an increased urge to urinate, mood swings and cravings for certain foods or drinks in many women; sensitivity to smell and sudden disgust for previously eaten food, cigarettes and alcohol are also typical.
Cause inflammation of the chest
If there is sensitivity to touch, especially in the area of the nipple (s), there may be inflammation of the female mammary or mammary gland ("mastitis"). In most cases, this occurs at the start of breastfeeding, about two to four weeks after birth (mastitis puerperalis), but can also develop outside of the puerperium (mastitis non puerperalis) and, in rare cases, even affect men.
Typical features of an inflamed mammary gland are fever, extreme sensitivity to touch and severe pain, which are often described as a massive stinging, pulling or burning in the chest. In addition, there is usually inflammation-related redness, swelling and overheating in the affected area, although the complaints are usually much more pronounced in puerperal mastitis.
In some cases, an abscess may also develop. If the inflammation takes a chronic course, so-called “fistulas” are also possible, which are an unnatural channel-like connection between internal organs or between internal organs and the body surface.
Inflammation of the breast can have various causes. Most often, the more common mastitis puerperalis is a bacterial infection with staph or streptococci. The bacteria get into the woman's body through small injuries ("cracks") in the nipple, which usually come from the mother's nose or another person close to the child if it becomes inflamed during breastfeeding. Through close physical contact, kissing, cuddling etc., the pathogens then get into the child's mouth and nose and finally to the nipple when breastfeeding.
Inflammation of the mammary gland outside of breastfeeding can also be caused by a bacterial infection. In addition to this, non-puerperal mastitis can also occur in connection with another underlying disease. For example, here Tuberculosis, syphilis, Boeck's disease (sarcoidosis) or a fungal infection.
Increased sensitivity to touch during the menopause Many women experience breast complaints during the menopause (menopause), which can sometimes be extremely uncomfortable. For example, the following are possible feeling of tension on one or both sides, drawing pain, stinging in the chest and increased sensitivity, which means that touching the breasts is hardly possible in some cases.
Most women experience symptoms primarily in the second half of the cycle and become more severe by the end of the cycle. In addition, the symptoms can be absent over a long period of time or appear at short intervals, which is due to the fact that menstruation only begins irregularly during menopause.
The reason for the menopausal symptoms are the changes in the hormonal balance of the female body. The production of female sex hormones gradually decreases, with the progesterone (luteal hormone) first and then the estrogen falling. It takes an average of five to ten years to get used to the new hormonal situation in the body, with some women feeling the first changes after the age of 40.
The change can lead to various complaints, in addition to sensitive breasts, e.g. Hot flashes, sweats, headaches and rapid heartbeat are typical. Often, increased bleeding, burning or pain during sex, sleep disorders, depressed moods and a dry, itchy vagina also occur due to the increasing lack of estrogen. In addition, the hormonal changes affect the skin, hair and figure of many women. Common examples are brittle, sensitive skin and thinning, dry hair, most of the joys also suffer from weight gain and increased wrinkling. Treatment for sensitive breasts If the increased sensitivity occurs in (early) pregnancy, it is often so strong that it is perceived as pain by the women concerned. In this case, the pregnant woman should find out about suitable bras in a special maternity fashion shop. Because a so-called "maternity bra" not only protects against unpleasant contact with the clothing above, but also provides support. As a result, sufferers usually experienced a certain relief quite quickly, which also minimizes the risk of a sagging breast after pregnancy.
Typical menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, sweating and a slightly increased sensitivity of the breasts often do not require special therapy. Instead, small changes in lifestyle can often help to make the time of hormonal change less difficult. These include e.g. regular physical activity and a healthy, varied diet with plenty of vegetables, fruits and whole grains - provided they are well tolerated.
However, if the complaints are so pronounced that the quality of life of those affected is significantly impaired, so-called "hormone therapy" is usually carried out. Various estrogen and / or progestogen preparations are available here, through which e.g. Hot flashes and sweats or a regression of the vagina can be counteracted.
If the cause is breast inflammation (mastitis), a doctor should be consulted as soon as possible to prevent the formation of an abscess. If non-puerperal mastitis is present without encapsulated accumulation of pus, depending on the cause, e.g. Antibiotics or anti-inflammatories are used. In addition, an important treatment step is cooling (e.g. with ice packs or curd wrap) the affected breast and wearing a well-fitting, calming bra. If an abscess has already developed, it is usually treated as part of an operation. The same applies e.g. for chronic areas of inflammation or fistulas. If the mastitis accompanies another underlying disease such as Syphilis or a fungal infection, the appropriate treatment of course is the focus of therapy.
Therapy and naturopathy at PMS
In the case of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), therapy may be necessary in some cases, because some women suffer so much from the symptoms before the period that private and professional everyday life is significantly restricted. In this case, the symptoms can be relieved by various medications such as Pain relievers (e.g. Ibuprofen) or drainage agents (diuretics) such as Alleviate spiron lactone. Hormonal contraceptives such as e.g. the birth control pill is used to prevent ovulation, and treatment with antidepressants can also be considered for severe psychological complaints.
In addition, herbal medicines can also be used effectively. Lady's mantle, lemon balm and St. John's wort are often used here, and aromatherapy with lavender oil is also believed to have great potential for alleviating the symptoms. This can e.g. in the form of a bath additive or as a wrap. It can be helpful and very relaxing if you carefully apply the oil or bed of the sensitive breast before going to bed. However, only high quality lavender essential oil should be used. In addition, a good dilution (e.g. with jojoba, almond or sesame oil) is always important when applied to the skin, since pure lavender oil quickly irritates such as e.g. Pustules or an itchy rash may occur.
Homeopathic globules have also proven their worth for complaints related to premenstrual syndrome. Sensitive breasts and breast tenderness can e.g. can be treated with dog milk (Lac caninum) in the potency D12, and calcium carbonicum is also helpful in many cases. If there is an irritation, homeopaths often recommend Lachesis or Lilium tigrinum, for mood swings or low moods for no apparent reason, e.g. Sepia or sodium muriaticum (table salt) provide relief.
A change in eating habits can also be very helpful. Because in some women the symptoms can be attributed to an overacidification of the body, which is why in these cases only a few acid-forming or "acidic" foods (e.g. meat, sausage, dairy products, pasta, coffee, alcohol) should be consumed. Instead, it is advisable to increase the proportion of so-called "base builders" in the daily diet in order to regulate the acid-base balance and accordingly to avoid or reduce acidification.
Vegetables such as e.g. Broad beans, onions, cauliflower, carrots, savoy, spinach or celery and fruit such as Bananas, mandarins, raspberries, quinces, pears, dried figs, etc. Many herbs, such as Basil, garden cress, oregano or parsley and salads such as Field, oak leaf or lettuce as well as Lollo Biondo or Rosso are particularly good. In addition, the basic menu can be supplemented by a number of other foods. These include various sprouts and germs, mushrooms (mushrooms, chanterelles, etc.) and almonds, as well as drinks such as unsweetened fruit and vegetable juices, homemade (green) fruit smoothies, lemon water and herbal tea.
In addition, various nutritional supplements are available to relieve the symptoms before the period. Here come e.g. Saffron, calcium, magnesium or ginkgo biloba are possible. In many cases, monk's pepper extract (Vitex agnuscastus) in the form of drops or tablets has also proven itself, although this can be particularly helpful if, in addition to the typical PMS symptoms, a too short or irregular cycle or bleeding occurs.
If you have a tendency to PMS, it is important to plan at least 20 minutes of exercise every day (preferably in the fresh air) and to ensure a sufficiently long and restful sleep. Relaxation exercises to reduce stress such as Yoga, meditation, autogenic training or progressive muscle relaxation can also be very helpful. In addition, special breathing exercises and alkaline baths are available to support the process of deacidification and thereby alleviate the symptoms. (No)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Dipl. Social Science Nina Reese
- Anja Jacobs et al .: S3 guideline: Therapy of inflammatory breast diseases during breastfeeding, guideline of the German Society for Gynecology and Obstetrics (DGGG), (accessed July 10, 2019), AWMF
- JoAnn V. Pinkerton: Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), MSD Manual, (accessed September 11, 2019), MSD
- Julie S. Moldenhauer: Mastitis, MSD Manual, (accessed September 11, 2019), MSD
- J. Peters: Mastitis puerperalis - causes and therapy, Zentralblatt für Gynäkologie, (accessed September 11, 2019), PubMed