Breast pain or feeling lumps, bumps, bumpy tissue or strings is also called mastopathy. This condition is common in young women but can also occur during or after menopause. Sometimes the condition disappears spontaneously. Often the symptoms are influenced by the menstrual cycle. More than 1 in 10 women suffer from this. Breast cancer is sometimes feared, but the symptoms are different from breast cancer.
What is mastopathy?
More than 10 percent of women suffer from mastopathy: a benign condition of the breasts. The breasts are painful and sensitive to touch. The woman feels lumps, bumps or strings in the breast. This can depend greatly on the menstrual cycle. Mastopathy is benign, but it is logical that many women are afraid of breast cancer. 1 in 9 women gets breast cancer, 1 in 10 women suffer from mastopathy. The risk of breast cancer is therefore higher than developing mastopathy. The fear of breast cancer is therefore not entirely unfounded. But once you know what mastopathy is, you no longer have to be afraid.
Mastopathy is closely related to the menstrual cycle. Hormones therefore play an important role. Yet it is unclear why one woman develops mastopathy and another has no problems at all. Major hormone fluctuations can be a risk factor, such as during pregnancy or when starting or stopping a heavy contraceptive pill. Mastopathy is more common in young folds. Some women only experience it during or after menopause. This means that the amount of hormones does not matter: the changes in hormones do. It is not hereditary. A deficiency of unsaturated fatty acids could play a role. Unsaturated fatty acids are found in vegetable oil and liquid margarine, natural nuts and oily fish.
There are two forms of mastopathy. In one form, the complaints are closely related to the menstrual cycle and occur 2 to 6 days before menstruation, in the other form this cycle does not play a role and the complaints are continuously present. Both forms are caused by hormones. Another cause of breast pain is not called mastopathy.
Pain is felt the most. This can be in both breasts, but also in just one. This can also vary: one month on the left and the next month on the right. The pain is sometimes so severe that even touching it is painful. The breasts may also feel very tense or full. Sometimes a white to yellow discharge comes from the nipple. This should never be bloody, then there is often something else going on. The discharge is not always clearly recognizable, but it dries into yellow or brown crusts. These crusts stick very firmly in the grooves of the nipple, which is recognizable for most women. The breasts may feel irregular. Lumps, bumps, bumpy tissue or strands may be felt. Sometimes these are also visible under the skin.
Sometimes it helps to take the contraceptive pill, which changes hormone levels. Sometimes it helps to get off the heavy contraceptive pill. This differs for every woman and is a matter of trial and error. The most common form of mastopathy is dependent on the menstrual cycle. It is important to take this into account by wearing a well-supporting bra during this period. A tight sports bra is often the most comfortable because the breasts experience less friction. In severe cases, the doctor may prescribe pain relief, but you can also take it yourself. Paracetamol is a reasonably safe painkiller. It also helps to put warm compresses on the chest(s). Heat reduces the pain. Cold actually increases the pain. Therefore, avoid cold. During winter, a thermal shirt can be worn. Surgery is rarely performed, only when serious abnormalities are found. In most cases, the woman will have to find a way to deal with it. Fortunately, it usually occurs at periods during the cycle. The form that is continuously present is less common, but often makes treatment more difficult. Mastopathy can disappear spontaneously.
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