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Breast Pain: When to Talk to Your Doctor

What causes breast pain, and when should you be concerned?

A woman talking to her VA doctor about breast pain Breast pain is common and is often nothing to worry about. Up to 80% of women experience pain at some point in their lives. If you have breast pain and no other symptoms, it’s highly unlikely to be breast cancer. Breast pain is not well understood and may have multiple causes.

We want to make sure you know the causes of breast pain, potential treatments, and when to call your doctor.

Causes of breast pain

Two types of breast pain:

  • Cyclical: This type of pain is related to a menstrual cycle. Often caused by hormone changes and fibrocystic breast changes.

  • Non-cyclical: This pain can be related to many factors, including medications, trauma, pregnancy, and benign masses.

There’s a myth that if you stop drinking coffee, limit caffeine, or even stop eating chocolate, your breast pain will go away. Enjoying these in moderation is okay, but there’s no evidence that giving these up will help with breast pain.

What to expect from your doctor

There’s a low risk of breast cancer when pain is the only symptom. If you ask your doctor about pain, they’ll want to know:

  • Do you have any other symptoms, such as a lump, swelling, or nipple discharge?

  • Could the pain be related to your menstrual cycle?

  • Can you pinpoint the painful area with one finger?

Potential treatments

If the pain is non-cyclical, your doctor may order a mammogram and ultrasound. If the pain is related to your menstrual cycle, your doctor may offer reassurance or treat your symptoms.

Depending on the cause of breast pain, your doctor may recommend a few treatment options. Non-medicinal treatments like cold compresses and improved support with a good bra may help. Over-the-counter pain relievers may be recommended.

When to call your doctor

If your pain is consistent and can be felt with one to two fingers, you should call your doctor. You should also make an appointment if you feel a lump or your pain isn’t related to your menstrual cycle.

You can reach out to your doctor via Secure Messaging if you want to schedule an appointment or have any concerns.


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