What are sensitive breasts?
The term ‘sensitive breasts‘ is rather subjective – it can be used to refer to discomfort, soreness or pain. In most cases it refers to breast tenderness which is soreness or pain that is felt when firm pressure is applied to the breasts. Although the breasts, and more specifically the nipples, are among the most sensitive parts of the body, breast sensitivity is not an uncommon occurrence. Women frequently experience sensitive breasts just before and during the periods and when pregnant. It is not a cause for concern in these instances and is only a temporary symptom. However, sensitive breasts may sometimes persist and worsen over time which can be a sign of some underlying disease.
Causes of Sensitive Breasts
Sensitivity of the breast that comes and goes, particularly in relation to the menstrual cycle, is normal. It is usually not severe and appears to be related to the fluctuations of the female hormones. This type of recurring pain is known as cyclic breast pain. Another causes of pain caused by hormonal changes is seen in pregnancy. Breast sensitivity with the menstrual cycle and pregnancy is physiological meaning that it is not related to any disease. Other causes of breast pain which often do not follow this cyclic pattern and is related to diseases is known as pathological breast pain or tenderness.
- Breast injury as a result of trauma, excessively tight brassieres and rough handling.
- Breast infection known as mastitis which is mainly seen in breastfeeding women.
- Very large breasts especially when there is poor support with an appropriate brassiere.
- Fibrocystic breast disease where the sensitivity may also be cyclical to some extent.
- Breast cysts which are small collections of fluid in the breast.
- Breast abscess which is a collection of pus in the breast tissue.
- Hormonal medication such as oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
- Other drugs such as antidepressants are also known to sometimes cause breast tenderness.
These are the main causes of breast sensitivity. Another possible cause is breast cancer. However, most cases of sensitive breasts is due to one or more of the causes above and not breast cancer, which is a common concern of most women.
Breast pain on its own is a warning sign of inflammation related to some disease or the other. Sensitive breasts on its own should be investigated by the presence of one or more of the following signs and symptoms signals the need for immediate medical attention.
- Dimpling of the breast
- Skin rash on the breast
- Itchy breasts
- Nipple discharge
- Redness of the breast
- Tender lumps on the breast surface or within the breast tissue
- Nipple deformity
The breasts sit on the chest wall and therefore an injury or disease of the surrounding tissue can also be associated with sensitive breasts. Muscle problems, specifically that of the pectoral muscles, and diseases of the skin over the breasts may therefore present as sensitive breasts. However, it is not the breast tissue itself that is diseased in these cases.
Any women with sensitive breasts who is noticing that the soreness or pain is worsening and has one or more of the symptoms mentioned above should consider these symptoms to be indicative of an underlying problem. It should be reported immediately to a medical professional so that the appropriate investigations can be undertaken as soon as possible.