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Do Breasts Hurt During Ovulation?

It’s safe to say you know the answer to that question. Breast pain (or cyclic mastalgia) does occur during ovulation. But that’s not why you’re here. 

You’re probably here because you want the answer to fleeting questions including; why your breasts feel heavy; how long you stay sore; and lots of other questions. 

The good news is that we’re covering all these questions and adding a few you didn’t even think of. 

For instance, we’ll be showing you how to spot breast pain during ovulation and the ones that tell you’re pregnant. 

Sounds interesting? 

You bet. Read on to find out all the remaining nitty-gritty details you never knew about.

Breast Tenderness During Ovulation

Breast Pain

One of the secondary symptoms of ovulation is breast pain or tenderness. In fact, the American Pregnancy Association spoke about the signs of ovulation in a recent article.

What secondary means is that not all women may experience this unlike common symptoms like changes in cervical fluid, cervical positioning, and basal body temperature during ovulation. 

Since breast pain is not so common with ovulation, how is it related to ovulation to begin with? 

How is breast pain (mastalgia) related to ovulation?

Let’s go back to the beginning. 

There are dozens of fertility hormones that start the ovulation process in your body. Some of them include Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), estrogen, luteinizing hormone (LH), and progesterone.

Now, these hormone levels flicker like a light bulb (going up and down) until the effects become visible in your body. One of these effects includes breast pain or what scientists call mastalgia. 

Moving on, we’ll zoom into the causes behind this grisly pain and how to spot it out.

Causes of Mastalgia

Sadly, the research available isn’t sufficient to say these are the core causes of mastalgia. However, John Hopkins Medicine has shone the light on a few scientific-based causes and they include:

  • Hormonal imbalance which is peculiar with progesterone and estrogen during the luteal phase
  • Hormonal dysfunctionality especially in prolactin levels
  • Stress is the main culprit behind hormonal imbalance 

Other Causes Of Breast Pain

  • Pregnancy:
    Your breasts adjust when you are pregnant and these signs could be swollen and tender breasts. It can begin right from the first week of pregnancy but will fizzle out after a few weeks. 

  • Breastfeeding:
    Nipple pain can arise from breastfeeding your baby, especially with first-time mums. Sometimes, breast pain while breastfeeding may show an underlying condition like mastitis.
    Signs of Mastitis are:
  • Breast pain
  • Breast inflammation
  • Fever
    Visit your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms

  • Menstrual period:
    Sometimes, breast soreness and pain may happen days before your period. This uncomfortable feeling can last throughout your period!

  • Cancer:
    Even though this is uncommon, breast pain can be a result of breast cancer.
    Signs to watch out for include:
  • Breast lumps or armpit region
  • Swollen breasts
  • Skin irritation
  • Unusual nipple discharge
  • Inverted nipples
  • Skin disorders

    Some skin conditions, like eczema, can dry out the breast skin and lead to sores later on. 

    Other causes for nipple pain may be that you are wearing an undersized bra or taking certain medications like diuretic

How To Tell If Your Breast Pain is Cyclical Or Not

The name cyclical mastalgia comes from the periodicity of the pain and not the symptoms. Cyclic means related to a specific pattern or cycle. The complaints related to the menstrual cycle are hence periodic in nature and thus the name, cyclical mastalgia.

The following symptoms may be common to both cyclical and acyclic mastalgia, but based on the time of their onset, they are termed as cyclical mastalgia.

  • Breast pain happens between one to two weeks prior to their period and disappears after period onset.
  • Heavy breasts that hurt and tingle at certain points just around the period or around ovulation.
  • Swollen breasts that may feel lumpy at certain points just before your period begins.

Did you know that breast pain can be so intense that you may not work like you used to or even enjoy sex?
Some people have complained that breast pain interferes with their daily activities, however, let’s not forget to add that this is rare. 

Do breasts increase in size during ovulation?

The ugly truth? Not really!
Your breasts may get swollen and heavier a few days before your ovulation and this is responsible for the size increase that you feel. But, this is not the only symptom that you may experience. 

Let’s take a glance over the remaining symptoms linked to breast pain. 

Symptoms

Breast pain that is caused by your ovulation could show signs as early as an LH surge and disappear without a trace after your ovulation. It can vary in intensity from women who don’t notice a thing to women who just can’t stand the pain. 

Frequent symptoms linked to mastalgia include:

  • Breast pain and dull aches
  • Pain in only one of the nipples
  • Swollen and lumpy breasts
  • Sensitivity in the region of the armpit

Treatment

Depending on how serious the pain is, your general lifestyle and wellness, treatment plans for breast pain vary. Nevertheless, you will find your doctor recommending the following to relieve pain:

  • Putting on a comfortable bra
  • Taking over-the-counter painkillers like ibuprofen
  • Avoiding coffee or any caffeinated drink

For people who experience cyclic mastalgia, long-term treatments like the following are advisable: 

  • Changing birth control pills
  • Specific painkillers
  • Hormone therapy

How long do your breasts stay sore after ovulation?

Breast Pain

Like most cases of breast pain, yours may be caused by hormonal imbalance. If that is the case, the pain may last from a few days before your ovulation till the moment your ovulation is over. However, this rule is not a one-size-fits-all condition. It can vary from woman to woman. 

The best way to tell the duration of breast pain is by recording your symptoms either in a diary or a tracking device like Inito. 

What Are The Other Symptoms Of Ovulation?

There are a handful of signs and symptoms that can tell you your ovulation is here. Breast pain is just the tip of the iceberg. 

As you continue reading, you’ll find more information on the major signs like cervical mucus, increased sexual desire, and a rise in basal body temperature that indicate ovulation is just around the corner. 

  • Cervical mucus discharge:
    Your cervix, which is the link between your womb and vaginal opening, begins to change in the way it feels. You would also notice that the mucus adjusts to the surge of estrogen making it thicker.

    To be precise, here is the timeline of your cervical mucus discharge before and after ovulation:

  • Right before ovulation, the mucus increases in quantity and becomes transparent with a stretchy feeling
  • During ovulation, it develops a texture similar to raw egg white
  • After ovulation, the mucus discharge reduces and becomes cloudy

  • Increased sexual desire:
    Feeling an increase in sex drive (or what you may know as being horny) around ovulation is completely normal. In fact, your body is telling you, “Yo! It’s time to make babies!”. That is the perfect time to get pregnant because your chances of being successful are high.
    The main reason why you feel like this is that your estrogen levels are off the roof. Asides from feeling an increased desire for sex, you may also be more active, happy, and friendly.

  • Rise in basal body temperature:
    After ovulation, you will notice a rise in your basal body temperature (BBT). Well, BBT simply means the temperature of your body immediately after you wake up. When that temperature begins to increase, it may just be a sign that you are ovulating.  

Does Breast Pain Show That You’re Pregnant?

Yes. According to experts, swollen breasts are one of the many common signs of pregnancy. It is usually caused by a sudden change in hormone levels. 

Differentiating Breast Pain In Pregnancy Or Ovulation

Telling ovulation and pregnancy symptoms apart can be brain teasing which is why we’re going to save you all that stress. Take a peek at the major differentiating factors that can help you tell what kind of breast pain you’re experiencing. 

  • Closeness to ovulation day
    If this nipple or breast pain happens at a particular time every month, for instance around 12-14 days prior to your next cycle, then you can safely say it is caused by ovulation and not pregnancy.

    However, if it happens out of the blue towards the end of your cycle then you may just be pregnant. Take a home pregnancy test to find out. 

  • Duration of pain
    If breast pain goes away after ovulation then it is your hormonal levels acting up again, hence, no cause for alarm. Alternatively, if the pain lasts throughout your ovulation and doesn’t stop after, you may just be pregnant.

Summary

  • Breast pain or mastalgia can be a sign that you’re ovulating or about to ovulate. But other things could also be responsible for that pain. 
  • If nipple pain is unbearable and prevents you from routine activity, your doctor may give you medications to relieve the pain and reduce the hormonal outbursts.
  • If you think the sore breasts are more likely signs of pregnancy, then take a quick home-pregnancy test to confirm.
  • Talk to your doctor if the pain is too much and persists after your menstrual period. 

Was this helpful?

  1. Khan SA, Apkarian AV. The characteristics of cyclical and non-cyclical mastalgia: a prospective study using a modified McGill Pain Questionnaire. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2002;75:147-57.
  2. Breast pain(Mastalgia). John Hopkins Medicine
  3. Ovulation symptoms. American Pregnancy Association.
  4. Ader DN, Browne MW. Prevalence and impact of cyclic mastalgia in a United States clinic-based sample. AJOG. 1997;177(1):126-32.
  5. Early signs of pregnancy. American Pregnancy Association.

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