Are Painful Breasts After Hysterectomy A Cause For Concern?

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painful breasts after hysterectomy

Is it normal to have painful breasts after hysterectomy? Is it a cause for concern or just a bothersome side effect of this surgery?

When your breasts become tender or sore after the hysterectomy, rest assured you have no reason to be alarmed.

Hormonal fluctuations are the most common cause of breast pain (mastalgia) after a hysterectomy.

Estrogen and progesterone are the hormones that cause fluid to build up in your breasts, so they swell and become tender.

Though breast pain may be a common complaint among women after a hysterectomy, it can interfere with one’s sleep, work, exercise, and sexual activities. So it is only natural you like to do something to reduce the discomfort.

Why do my breasts hurt after hysterectomy?

Sore breasts are a common phenomenon in the days before a woman has her period, often referred to as cyclical breast pain. These symptoms may worsen when a woman enters perimenopause with its hormonal ups and downs but tend to disappear when menstruation stops.

After the hysterectomy, monthly hormone fluctuations may still occur when they leave one or both ovaries. After the surgery, you may experience the same monthly breast tenderness until the time your menstruation has ended naturally.

Breast pain that is not linked to the menstrual cycle is known as noncyclical breast pain. This pain can occur after menopause and also after a hysterectomy. Noncyclical pain may be caused by illness, trauma, weight gain, or certain medications.

It is often difficult to determine the cause of the pain. Heart disease, lung conditions, strained muscles, and pinched nerves can all cause pain that can sometimes be mistaken for breast pain. The most important for women with noncyclic breast pain is to ensure it is not related to breast cancer.

What to do about painful breasts after hysterectomy?

Sore breasts after a hysterectomy are a thing that, in most cases, will ease off on their own. In the meantime, here are some self-care tips that may alleviate the pain.

Choose a supportive, well-designed bra

The first thing you may want to check is if your breasts are hurting if buying a new, well-fitting bra solves the problem. Wearing the wrong bra is the most common cause of breast pain, and many women wear ill-fitting bras.

Especially during menopause, breasts tend to change in size and shape. They may start to sag as they become less elastic and dense. So this is definitely the time you spend a bit more on a bra that can properly support them.

Apply cold or heat

A simple solution for breast pain and swelling after hysterectomy is to apply warm or cool compresses to the breasts. Just try and see which helps best. Another thing that may reduce the feelings of fullness and tightness is self-massage.

Massage your sore breasts while you shower or in a warm bath to improve circulation. Not sure how to do that? Then, watch this video that shows you the PHAST Technique.

Go for a supplement

Magnesium, vitamin B6, evening primrose oil, and omega 3 are some supplements that could minimize breast pain discomfort. Evening primrose oil is rich in essential fatty acids and may change the balance of fatty acids in your breast cells, reducing breast pain.

In one trial, daily doses of 1200 IU vitamin E alone or combined with evening primrose oil were used for six months, reducing cyclical mastalgia’s pain severity. However, other studies give mixed results and can not find any beneficial effects of evening primrose oil for breast pain. Nonetheless, for some women, it seems to work.

Choose a good pain reliever

A quick remedy for breast pain is taking OTC medications, such as acetaminophen (paracetamol, Tylenol) or ibuprofen. They may be useful when your breasts are so painful that you can’t sleep. You can also rub on topical non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in cream or gel form, such as diclofenac or ibuprofen. Some studies show that topical NSAIDs effectively relieve cyclical and non-cyclical breast pain but may not be without harmful effects.

Lifestyle modifications

What you eat and drink may also influence breast pain. Some women report symptom relief by implementing certain lifestyle changes. For example, caffeine consumption and nicotine may make your symptoms worse. Consider cutting down on coffee and tea and stopping smoking. Other healthy lifestyle approaches, such as getting enough sleep, eating a low-fat diet, and exercising regularly, can also improve breast pain after hysterectomy.

Have your hormone levels tested

One of the side effects of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is that it may cause breast tenderness or swelling. This happens when the breast tissue responds to an increase in the level of estrogen. Consider discussing with your healthcare provider to lower your medication dose or switch to another type of HRT. In this case, it may be necessary to have your hormone levels tested through blood work.

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When to worry about painful breasts after hysterectomy and consult a doctor?

Breast pain is often not a sign of breast cancer but a harmless condition. If the pain lasts longer than a few months or worsens, it could indicate a more serious health problem and require medical attention.

In other words, it is important that you are aware of any changes and recognize possible symptoms of breast cancer. Be watchful for the following symptoms and have them checked by a health care professional.

  • New lumps
  • Nipple discharge
  • Itchiness, redness, or a rash
  • Nipple changes
  • Skin looks like orange peel

If your healthcare provider does find something suspicious during a breast examination, he/she will, in all likelihood, send you for a mammogram and ultrasound.

The bottom line

Painful breasts after hysterectomy are an issue that usually resolves itself after a few months and does not need any treatment. But you know your body best, and if something doesn’t feel right, never hesitate to talk to your doctor.

Do you know a remedy for sore breasts after the hysterectomy we didn’t mention here? Please share it in the comments further down this page.

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