Health Topics

Breast Pain

By DuPage Medical Group Obstetrics & Gynecology

Although many women with pain in one or both breasts may fear breast cancer, breast pain is NOT a common symptom of cancer.

Boys and men have breast tissue. If a male has breast tissue that can be seen, the condition is called gynecomastia. Adolescent boys can have some breast swelling and tenderness as a part of normal development. This is due to hormone changes, and is similiar to breast tenderness in women.


Some degree of breast tenderness is normal. The discomfort may be caused by hormonal changes due to:

  • Menopause (unless a woman is taking hormone replacement therapy)
  • Menstruation and premenstrual syndrome(PMS)
  • Pregnancy -- breast tenderness tends to be more common during the first trimester and in women who are pregnant at a young age
  • Puberty in both girls and boys

Soon after childbirth, your breasts may become swollen with milk. This can be very painful and is usually accompanied by swelling. If you also have an area of redness, call your health care provider. Breastfeeding itself may also cause breast pain.

Other common causes of breast pain include:

  • Alcoholism with liver damage
  • Injury
  • Infection of the breast tissue (mastitis)

Fibrocystic breast changes are also a common cause of breast pain. Fibrocystic breast tissue contains lumps and bumps that tend to be more tender just before your menstrual period.

Certain medications may also cause breast pain, including digitalis preparations, methyldopa (Aldomet), spironolactone (Aldactone), certain diuretics, Anadrol, and chlorpromazine.

Shingles can lead to pain felt in the breast if the painful blistering rash appears on the skin over one of your breasts.

Topics and Subtopics: Women's Health

Physicians & Experts

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Obstetrics and Gynecology
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