Our breasts go through a lot over the years:
They grow, they shrink, they produce milk, they stop producing milk.
Then sneaky menopause brings a whole new list of changes to look out for.
Don’t let that scare you. These changes are 99% normal.
Knowing what changes to expect and when to expect them means you will be well equipped to take action.
We’ve developed our list of the Top 7 Questions Women Are Afraid to Ask About Their Breasts During Menopause:
- Why the Heck Do My Breasts Hurt?
- Is It Weird My Nipples or Breasts Are Itching?
- Will I Start Sagging?
- Yippee! My Breasts Are Getting Bigger! I Think?
- Is This Lump Normal?
- Okay, So What Isn’t Normal?
- Am I More Prone to Breast Cancer Now?
1. Why the Heck Do My Breasts Hurt?
Are your breasts feeling heavy, sore or achy?
You’re not going crazy. Breast tenderness is totally normal during perimenopause but generally eases as we pass through menopause and head into post-menopause. It’s hormones shifting around in your body, just like before you get your period. Only during perimenopause, periods become unpredictable, so, unfortunately, breast pain can strike at any time. But, there are things you can do to help:
- Firstly, cover the easy bases like making sure your bra fits right. As bodies and breasts change over our lifetime it is important to keep reassessing our bra size. It’s such a simple step we overlook but it can make a huge difference in how we feel. So, head down to your local store, get measured up and find that perfect new bra for you.
85% of women with breast pain gained relief when they wore a well-fitted sports bra, according to a 2014 study ~ Webmd
- Any supplements that reduce inflammation could ease symptoms such as evening primrose (if you’d prefer a capsule) or turmeric powder (if you want to start a smoothie routine)
- “But, my breasts are really sore.” O.k so that’s not cool if you can’t go about your normal day. If they are really tender natural progesterone cream can help. This is because as we enter perimenopause our progesterone levels drop earlier and more suddenly than estrogen. So, this is the time when our progesterone and estrogen are the furthest apart causing all sorts of fun imbalances. By lifting progesterone levels we help shrink the imbalances and hopefully ease breast tenderness and other symptoms of perimenopause. In saying this if the pain is severe please visit your doctor as it could be a symptom of something else more sinister.
- Reduce stress – stress inhibits progesterone production because it is too busy creating the stress hormone cortisol instead. Hence why a lot of us high-stress modern women have progesterone deficiencies, and even before perimenopause starts.
2. Is It Weird My Nipples or Breasts Are Itching?
There is nothing worse than having a constant itch. Especially in a place where it isn’t publicly acceptable to scratch! In most cases, this is completely natural especially if it is across both breasts.
If your breasts have become swollen or enlarged in perimenopause the skin stretching can cause the itch. In addition to this, hormonal changes can alter our skin type. Skin that may have been normal to oily before perimenopause might now be dryer or more sensitive.
If your breasts are itchy take these steps:
- Have cooler showers as hot water can dry out the skin more. Use natural or unscented soaps to avoid any extra irritation that might occur with newly sensitive skin.
- Try natural/unscented laundry powder; fabric can emit irritants that can again cause dry or sensitive skin to become itchy.
- Apply a nice thick fragrance-free hypoallergenic moisturizer to reduce dryness.
- Again make sure your bra is fitting correctly as swollen breasts in an unfitted bra can cause irritation.
- With workout clothes, we generally think the more secure the better. But, if you are experiencing the itch it might pay to have a slightly less restrictive bra and rub some Vaseline on the problem area before exercising says health.com.
3. Will I Start Sagging?
Probably. And it would be weird if it didn’t happen. When menopause hits, estrogen plummets and your milk production system begins to shut down. That means your breasts can lose density and change shape. We don’t like it, but it happens.
Understanding why and trusting that it’s normal can set your mind at ease. Press-ups and chest work at the gym can help to build the muscle underneath the breast to provide a bit of extra perk.
4. Yippee! My Breasts Are Getting Bigger! I Think?
Yep, just as easily as they can get smaller, they can get bigger too. It’s a combination of changing hormones, weight gain, and inflammation. They can all work together to make your breasts bigger.
For some women, it’s a hassle they don’t want. For others, it’s one of the few welcome changes that come with menopause.
5. Is This Lump Normal?
Don’t freak out. What you’re probably feeling is a cyst, and you can get them at any age. Always get them checked if you’re worried, but cysts are more common when hormones are in flux, so it makes sense you’d see more of them during the stages of menopause. The good news? After menopause, you’ll probably see them less often. If you’ve taken hormone therapy, they could hang around, but they’re not usually something to worry about.
6. Okay, So What Isn’t Normal?
All women experience menopause differently. That being said, there are certain things that just aren’t normal no matter what. If your breasts start to get red or pucker, see a doctor. Ditto if your nipples start to pull in or present some kind of discharge. Really hard lumps are more serious than soft, squishy ones, and if your breasts suddenly start to look different from each other, that’s a concern. None of this guarantees something serious, but it does warrant a trip to the doctor.
7. Am I More Prone to Breast Cancer Now?
The short answer? Yes. We don’t want to scare you, but knowing this might save your life one day. It’s not that menopause causes cancer, it’s that the chances of getting it increase as we get older.
If you’re 40-55 and in menopause, your risks are highest. But there’s good news. After menopause, your risks generally go down again and by the time you’re 70, your chances of getting breast cancer are generally cut in half (unless you reach menopause later 55yrs or beyond then stay vigilant).
Just like everything in life our breasts change as we get older. As you have learned most of these changes though annoying are very normal. You have educated yourself on what changes you need to look out for and what action you can take to ease discomfort.
At any point, if you are worried head to your doctor. As with any health issue, it starts with us becoming aware and then communicating clearly with our health professional. Remember they view breasts as just another part of the body so it is nothing to be embarrassed about as they see and expect these issues every day.
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