Why do your breasts get bigger before your period?
Many women may notice that their breasts become larger just before a week of menses, whereas others may not experience such symptoms. Breast swelling and tenderness occur due to a surge in hormones during the menstrual cycle. The estrogen that your body makes in the initial period of the menstrual cycle peaks just before the mid-cycle. As a result, the breast duct grows. The progesterone level peaks near the 21st day of a 28-day cycle. This results in the growth of the milk glands of the breast. Breast swelling may also be associated with
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- Fibrocystic breast disease (noncancerous changes giving the breasts a lumpy texture)
Breast swelling and tenderness may occur to some extent in nearly all women. Symptoms may be severe in many women during their childbearing years. Symptoms may be mild in women taking birth control pills. Some of the risk factors that may increase the chances of swelling or tenderness include
These changes seem to resolve once the menses arrives due to a decline in progesterone levels.
What breast changes happen at puberty?
When a young woman hits puberty, the first noticeable signs of breast development begin. When the ovaries start to make and release estrogen, fat in the connective tissue starts to collect. As a result, the breasts enlarge and the duct system also starts to grow. The female breast developmental stages are described below.
|Female breast developmental stages||Description|
|Stage 1||Preteen. Only the tip of the nipple is raised.|
|Stage 2||Buds appear and the breast and nipple are raised. The areola (the dark area of skin around the nipple) gets larger.|
|Stage 3||Breasts are slightly larger with glandular breast tissue present.|
|Stage 4||The areola and nipple become raised and form a second mound above the rest of the breast.|
|Stage 5||Mature adult breast. The breast becomes rounded and only the nipple is raised.|
What can you do to prevent breast changes during the menstrual cycle?
There are few things that you can do to prevent changes in your breasts during the monthly cycle.
- Eat a diet lower in fat, avoiding high-fat foods such as cookies, pastries and fried foods.
- Avoid caffeine, including coffee, tea, cola and chocolate.
- Avoid salt one to two weeks before your period starts.
- Wear a bra that fits you properly and provides good breast support.
- Get vigorous exercise daily.
Apart from these things, check your breasts regularly for any changes.
When to contact a medical professional
You should contact your medical professional if you
- Have a new, unusual or changing lump in the breast.
- Have unilateral (one-sided) lump/s in the breast.
- Do not know to perform breast self-examination properly.
- Are a woman aged 40 years old or older and have never had a screening mammogram.
- Have nipple discharge, especially if it is a bloody or brown discharge.
- Have severe symptoms that interfere with your ability to sleep and diet changes and exercise have not helped.
You should also contact the physician if you notice changes in
Johns Hopkins Medicine
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