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Ask HER: Why Do My Breasts Hurt So Much?

Ask HER: Why Do My Breasts Hurt So Much?
It's YOUR time on HER Radio. Be a part of the show... make your comments and ask your questions by email, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . It's time to Ask HER.

Today on HER Radio, you wanted to know:

What are some reasons why my breasts are so tender?

Many women experience breast tenderness for a handful of different reasons.

You could have done an intense workout, you could be PMSing, or you might be wearing the wrong bra size. You might have even pulled a muscle that could be causing your breast pain. Cyclic pain is typically the most common type of breast pain and is usually caused by hormonal changes within your body. Younger women also experience this more during menstruation.

Usually, the pain will disappear without needing any treatment and will usually disappear after menopause.

Noncyclic pain usually occurs in women between the ages between 30 and 50. This type of pain typically feels sharp and kind of like a burning sensation. This pain is often brought on from a cyst and can be healed with treatment. However, if your pain is consistent and isn't feeling better within a couple of days, you may want to consider seeing your doctor.

I feel sleepy after eating... why is this?

Have you ever eaten so much that you feel like you're having a "food baby" or need to lay down and take a nap? You might experience this feeling most often during or after holiday meals or parties. Certain foods may also make you feel this way more than others. For example, overly eating carbs, sugars, and alcohol can slow your digestion and give you that sleepy feeling.

If you have a personal health question that you want answered, Pam and Michelle encourage you to send them in to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

RadioMD Presents:HER Radio | Original Air Date: April 9, 2015
Host: Michelle King Robson and Pam Peeke, MD

It's your time on HER Radio. Be a part of the show. Make your comments, ask your questions by email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by calling 877-711-5211. Time to Ask HER.

PAM: Okay. Go ahead and Ask HER for crying out loud. This is Dr. Pam Peeke and Michelle King Robson and we're here to answer your questions. We're just loving this segment to be able to really connect with you. Right, Michelle?

MICHELLE: Exactly. It's a brand new segment we're doing. So, you can email us. At some point, you'll be able to actually call in and ask us questions directly, but for now, you're going to go through email. So, we're so excited.

So, let's start with the first question, Pam. Right?

PAM: Okay. So, the first question from one of our listeners is: "How come my breast hurt so much?"


PAM: What's up with breast pain? Ouch!


PAM: Wait a minute, why'd your hands go up to...Well, anyway...

PAM: It's just a natural thing. Both of our hands go up technically over our "mammaries", as we say in the business. So, okay. So, the main reason why this happens is something called "cyclic pain" and, yeah, yeah, you're PMS'ing and it's all controlled by this simple estrogen, progesterone cycle. And, this usually occurs right before your periods and then it goes bye bye right when your period begins and so, within the first 2-3 days, it's all gone. That's just the breast tissue responding to that. But, it's not the only reason why this happens.

MICHELLE: No. Reason number two could be you've upped your workouts, right? So, you know, you're doing more push-ups and you're using muscles underneath the breasts that maybe you haven't been using. So, that also can cause soreness. Pam, you know this better than I do since I don't really do push-ups. So, we all know you do.

PAM: Oh, god. Here we go. Seriously, we're talking about your pectoral muscles, those are chest muscles and, at the same time, the costochondral muscles that are between your ribs and, believe it or not, man, those little suckers can hurt.


PAM: And, it's not just your workout. What if you're lifting something at home and you sprain one of those muscles and, whoa!

MICHELLE: Furniture.

PAM: You're raising your hands. You're doing furniture, right?

MICHELLE: I'm always moving furniture around, right? So, that always does it. But, you know, the interesting thing is, you can actually use a heating pad, right? And, you can also take some kind of ibuprofen to help.

PAM: Well, you know, an non-steroidal usually helps a lot of this, too. But, wait a minute. We've got more reasons why this is going on, too. How about your B-R-A? How about those bras that don't fit? Either they're...Most of the time they're too small and they're really giving you a strain and it hurts or you're in that workout bra that just doesn't work.

MICHELLE: Fit. Yeah, it's that workout bra that doesn't work.

PAM: It doesn't work. I'm talking about, you're doing the little floppy, floppy thing here and, oh, man, after a while, it strains your breast and the muscles underneath. So, that's no fun, right?

MICHELLE: No. And, which bra do you use, Pam? Because you work out all the time. I use LuLu Lemons bra. Their workout bra and I love it. It's so supportive.

PAM: You know, there are so many good ones out there. My current favorite includes UnderArmor because they have a nice, strong cross. A little cross in the back that really holds you up no matter how much jumping around and everything you do which is really great. Champion puts out some. Moving Comfort. You want ones that really hold you up. I mean, you see so many of these bras that are meant for marathoners with a 32A, you know, cup size.

MICHELLE: Exactly.

PAM: And, you think, "No. No." Women come in all different kinds of sizes.


PAM: And, you know, here's a surprise for you, Michelle. Stress. And when you're under stress, you drink too much what?

MICHELLE: Coffee or lattes.

PAM: Coffee. Yep. Yep. And, didn't you tell me that that was the reason why your breasts hurt so much?

MICHELLE: Yes. It was one breast actually--my right breast. It was underneath the armpit. It radiated to underneath the armpit and it was because I was drinking too many lattes. So, when I quit drinking coffee in the afternoon, it was much better. Then, also because I wear an Estradiol patch because I had a complete hysterectomy, if I had too much estrogen in my body, I would feel it in my breasts and they would take down the estrogen. They would just notch it down a little bit and then it would go away.

PAM: Absolutely. And, I think it's something that is in the back of the minds of so many women out there is whether or not..."Gosh, is this cancer?"


PAM: You know what's really interesting? The mass majority of breast lumps that are associated with cancer are not painful.

MICHELLE: There's no pain. Right.

PAM: There's usually no pain. What does cause you some discomfort are fibrocysts. In other words, you have cysts in your breasts and those can be stimulated, in terms of pain, by, once again, caffeine. Even stress.


PAM: So, it's important to remember that there are lots of reasons why your breasts can feel so uncomfortable. One last thing, that PMC cyclic pain? That's usually both breasts at the same time.

MICHELLE: Exactly.

PAM: Michelle just said that she felt discomfort in one breast when she had that issue with the coffee and the rest of it. That helps differentiate what's going on out there.

So, I hope that helps you, whoever asked that question, because we just gave a big mouth answer to that one.

MICHELLE: That was. But, we have our own experience with it, too. So, that's always good because a lot of women suffer from those fibrocystic breasts, so, you know, they're lumpy and they fill with fluid. So, you have to know what kind of breasts you have and then you have to really have great breast health and take care of them.

PAM: Have a good bra fitting while you're at it.

MICHELLE: Exactly.

PAM: Both sports bra and otherwise. So, here's a great question. I love this one.

MICHELLE: Me, too.

PAM: "How come I feel so sleepy after I eat?"

PAM: Yeah, I mean, a lot of people just fall into a food coma right after they've had their meal like lunch, dinner and a lot of times this is really a pain. So, let's just sort of parse this. This isn't just about turkey dinner.


PAM: A lot of people think they just sort of slip into that food coma right after they've had the big boy.

MICHELLE: The tryptophan? Is that what it is, Pam? Tryptophan?

PAM: Yeah. Yeah. Tryptophan—that's associated with poultry, but believe it or not, turkey doesn't have that much in it. Other poultry does, as well as tea. So, don't be just blaming that poor little gobbler, now. But, other things are happening here. This is what's important. I think a lot of people out there think that it's all about the fact that the body redistributes blood to the stomach when you've had a pretty good-sized meal--or, any meal, for that matter and that's why you're feeling so poopy. Turns out, that's really not the full case at all. When you have a high carb, fat, sugary kind of meal like everything you get in America, it stimulates hormones from the small intestine and what it does, then, is that it basically starts a whole domino effect with things like insulin.

Now, insulin increases, especially if you have that sugary, nasty high carb stuff, and when that happens, serotonin increases and melatonin. When that happens, you start falling asleep. You see, there's brain chemicals and then there's hormones that are affected with this. So, it's not just that redistribution of blood flow that causes a food coma. Guess what, Michelle?


PAM: You fly a lot. You get stressed a lot, right?

MICHELLE: Right. Right.

PAM: Just like with me. You think that impacts on this too? Of course. Of course it does.

MICHELLE: So, Pam, quickly. So, you want to watch what you eat, right? So, first you should eat a good breakfast. Then, watch what you eat and avoid fast foods. Avoid sugar and flour. Eat a low-carb/high protein lunch or diet and eat less. Curb your caffeine intake and skip the wine or beer for lunch, which I love. Darn.

PAM: Well, actually, alcohol slows digestion.

Okay. So, you've just listened to Ask HER with Dr. Pam Peeke and Michelle King Robson. Get right on back to us. Ask us your questions. You know how to do it. Get on RadioMD. We're so....