Breast tenderness can cause a lot of discomfort (especially while moving) as well as heaviness, soreness and increased sensitivity of the breasts.
Breast tenderness refers to softness in the breast tissues accompanied by pain. It is common to experience breast tenderness just before your menstrual cycle, during pregnancy, while breastfeeding and after menopause. During these times, hormonal fluctuations take place in the body that cause the breasts to hurt and swell.
Other causes of tender breasts include a condition called fibrocystic (lumpy) breasts, your diet, shoulder or muscle pain, chest congestion, certain medications, smoking and poorly fitted bras.
For many women, breast tenderness and pain resolves on its own over time. However, there are many home remedies that can help ease the tenderness. From herbs to dietary and lifestyle changes, there are many things that can help you get rid of the discomfort.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for breast tenderness.
1. Gentle Massage
Many times, muscle pain in the chest or upper body can contribute to breast tenderness. In such a scenario, massage helps a lot.
Massage improves blood circulation, which helps reduce the pain and tenderness. It also keeps fluid retention in check, further reducing the discomfort.
- Apply some warm olive or coconut oil on your breasts.
- Gently massage one of your breasts using upward strokes, followed by circular motions.
- Repeat on the other breast in a similar pattern.
- Do this 2 or 3 times a day until your condition improves.
Note: When massaging your breasts, do it gently and never opt for a deep tissue massage.
2. Ice Pack
To deal with breast tenderness and pain, an ice pack also helps a lot. Ice packs are especially good for alleviating pain due to some kind of injury or fibrocystic breasts as well.
The cold temperature helps numb the nerves around your breasts, which in turn reduces tenderness and dulls the pain.
- Wrap a handful of ice cubes in a small piece of cotton cloth.
- Place it over the painful area, such as under the breast or on the right or left side.
- Keep it there until the ice cubes are completely melted.
- Repeat this remedy 3 times a day to soothe tender breasts.
Caution: Do not apply ice directly on your breasts, as it may damage your skin and breast tissue.
3. Warm Compress
Some women may find relief by using a warm compress or taking a warm bath. Using heat on tender breasts helps relax the sore muscles and reduce the pain.
A warm compress also helps by increasing blood circulation in the breasts.
- Soak a hand towel in a bowl of warm water and squeeze out the excess water.
- Place the warm, moist towel over the affected area.
- Keep it on until the towel cools off.
- Do it 3 or 4 times in a row.
- Repeat this remedy 2 or 3 times a day to get rid of tenderness and soreness.
4. Supportive Bra
An uncomfortable or poorly fitted bra can cause mild breast pain and tenderness. So, when you suddenly suffer from mild breast tenderness for no apparent reason, consider changing your bra.
It is recommended not to wear a bra that is too tight or has underwires. Instead, opt for a soft sports bra or a well-padded bra without underwires to support your tender breasts.
Wear a sports bra while exercising, especially when your breasts are more sensitive. If needed, wear your bra to bed to reduce nighttime jostling.
When shopping for a new bra, make sure it cups your breasts perfectly and does not pinch your breasts. Always throw away old and stretched-out bras, as they do not provide the support your breasts need.
5. Evening Primrose Oil
Evening primrose oil is rich in linoleic acid that helps make the breasts less sensitive to hormonal changes. This will ease breast tenderness and pain if you often suffer from this problem before your periods.
- Apply warm evening primrose oil on the affected area and around the armpits. Gently massage the breasts using upward strokes and circular motions. Repeat twice a day for best results.
- You can opt to take 500 mg of evening primrose oil standardized extract daily for about 3 months, but only after consulting your doctor.
Caution: Pregnant women and women with a history of epilepsy should not use evening primrose oil.
6. Castor Oil
Castor oil contains ricinoleic acid, which has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. This greatly helps reduce breast tenderness and pain.
It also heals the nerves and promotes better blood flow.
- Mix 1 tablespoon of castor oil with 2 tablespoons of any lighter oil, such as olive oil.
- Massage it over your tender breasts.
- Then, put a warm cloth over your breasts for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Rinse the oil off with lukewarm water.
- Do this once daily until the tenderness is gone.
Dandelion is also helpful in reducing breast pain and tenderness. Its diuretic nature and high potassium content helps remove excess water from the body and breasts, which in turn relieves heaviness and soreness.
In addition, dandelion helps reduce inflammation in the body.
- Simmer 1 teaspoon of dried dandelion root in 1 cup of water for 10 minutes. Strain and add a little honey. Drink up to 3 cups of this herbal tea per day.
- You can opt to take this herb in supplement form, but only after consulting your doctor.
8. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is also helpful in treating tender breasts. It helps regulate hormonal changes in the body, which in turn reduces breast tenderness, a common premenstrual and pregnancy symptom.
- Use vitamin E oil to massage your breasts gently a few times a day.
- Eat foods rich in vitamin E, such as sunflower seeds, almonds, olive oil, spinach, avocados, turnips, beet greens and mustard greens.
- You can opt to take a daily dose of 200 to 400 IUs of vitamin E to prevent breast pain and tenderness during menstruation. Also, consult your doctor for the correct dosage.
9. Cabbage Wraps
Cabbage leaves are a soothing remedy for swollen and tender breasts. The sulfur compounds in the leaves help reduce inflammation and swelling.
- Dip 2 or 3 cabbage leaves into a bowl of warm water for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Take out one leaf and wrap it around your tender breast.
- When the leaf reaches room temperature, replace it with a new warm one.
- Do this 2 or 3 times a day to get fast relief from breast tenderness.
10. Adjust Your Birth Control Pills
As birth control pills contain hormones, they cause hormonal changes in the body and may lead to breast tenderness. So, if you are experiencing breast tenderness after starting new birth control pills, you may have to change the pill.
You can consult your doctor about adjusting the type or dose of the pill you take. You may have to avoid estrogen-based birth control, when possible.
If needed, switch your form of birth control to a non-drug method. However, before doing this, always consult your doctor.
- Low-impact exercises such as swimming and yoga (Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation pose) can help relieve breast pain and tenderness by improving the lymphatic flow in the body. The lymph nodes tend to swell due to hormonal changes.
- Reduce your intake of methylxanthine, a component found in foods like coffee, cola, tea, wine, beer, bananas, chocolate, cheese, peanut butter, mushrooms and pickles. This compound is believed to contribute to breast pain.
- Watch your sodium intake. Sodium increases water retention, which can cause your breasts to swell and become tender.
- A decrease in body weight can alleviate breast pain and tenderness to some extent.
- Experiment with relaxation therapy, which can help control high levels of anxiety associated with tender and painful breasts.
- Drink ginger tea or fennel tea 2 or 3 times a day,
- Acupressure may help get rid of breast tenderness, soreness and pain.
- Eat a low-fat diet and more complex carbohydrates. Also, eat more vegetables and fruits that are high in antioxidants to prevent free-radical damage.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day to help flush toxins out of the body.
- If the tenderness does not get better, consult your doctor.