Like most parts of the body, breasts can be sore from time to time.
Not only for girls, but for guys, too. You may be worried about
your body's development, about what causes breast soreness, and
even about cancer.
you're a girl, you may have noticed a slightly sore feeling when
you wash your breasts in the shower. Or maybe you felt an ache when
you've rolled onto your stomach in bed. Sometimes it may have felt
like your breasts gained 10 pounds overnight.
If you're a guy, you may have noticed some tenderness and even
a lump beneath your nipple area.
Whether it's a dull ache or a sharp pain, soreness in your breasts
can be scary. TV shows, magazines, and newspapers are filled with
information about breast cancer, so it's easy to think your pain
could make you a statistic, but don't freak out.
The truth is that breast pain in a teen is rarely cancer. So what
is it and how can you be sure?
What Are Breasts and Why Do I Have Them?
All mammals have breasts and humans are no exception. Breasts, which
are milk-producing glands, begin to enlarge in females around the
onset of puberty. Breasts are made of fat and other tissue that
surround and protect nerves, blood vessels, and milk ducts (small
The main biological reason young women have breasts is to allow
them to feed babies. Since long before the invention of the bottle,
babies have been nursed (fed milk) straight from their mothers'
nipples. Although some women give their babies formula from bottles,
women still breastfeed their newborns. In fact, doctors recommend
breastfeeding as the best way to meet a baby's nutritional needs.
The timing of breast development varies from girl to girl. Normally,
girls begin getting breasts as early as 8 years old or as late as
14. In general, it takes 4 to 5 years for breasts to reach adult
When guys start puberty it is common to develop a small amount
of breast enlargement too. During puberty, hormones in the body
cause the breasts to grow larger. The difference is for guys, this
condition is called gynecomastia and is usually temporary.
What Causes Soreness?
One of the most common times that breasts might feel sore is when
they are beginning to develop. First you might notice a small button-like
lump beneath the nipple area. The medical name for this is the breast
bud, and it is often present in guys and girls. The breast bud may
be a little tender and may cause you to worry but it's a normal
part of puberty.
It is also common to have sore breasts around the beginning of
a girl's period, or menstruation. A week or so before her period
starts, the body begins producing lots of the female hormones estrogen
These hormones can cause feelings that together are called premenstrual
syndrome, or PMS. Some girls have painful cramps in their stomachs,
headaches, mood swings, or cravings for certain foods right before
their periods begin. During this time the body may retain water,
which can make a girl feel puffy and bloated. Rings and shoes may
feel tight at this time.
Just as fingers and feet swell, so can breasts. All that fluid
forces the breast tissues to expand, which stretches the nerves
and makes breasts feel achy or tender.
Even greater amounts of breast swelling and tenderness can be one
of the earliest signs of pregnancy. Be sure to talk to a parent
or doctor right away if you might be pregnant.
Also, if you ever notice discharge from one or both breasts, call
your doctor right away.
What Can I Do to Relieve the Ache?
Most PMS symptoms, including breast soreness, should disappear as
your period begins. Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen
or ibuprofen might be helpful. Wearing a supportive bra might also
Healthy eating and a lot of rest are really your best bets for
lessening the ache. You might try cutting down on salty foods and
foods that contain caffeine, like coffee, tea, and even chocolate.
Try caffeine-free soda or herbal tea instead.
If you're tired, take a rest! Snuggle on the couch with your pillow
and watch a good movie. Sometimes getting your mind off your aches
is the best thing you can do.
What if I'm Still Worried?
Sometimes all the knowledge in the world won't help you feel better.
Maybe the pain is a little sharper this time, or maybe it lasted
longer than usual, or maybe you just want to get it checked out.
You don't need to sit at home and worry - visit your doctor.
You may feel foolish, but your doctor should share your concerns.
The doctor sees patients all the time for things that may seem silly,
but if you're worried, then it's not dumb. Although you may feel
a little embarrassed to ask about breast pain or about a lump, there's
no need to. A breast exam is a quick and painless procedure. Besides,
it's a small price to pay for a doctor's assurance that your aches
are completely normal.