Breast Tenderness

Breast tenderness is a common problem for women of all ages. Breast tenderness may cause mild discomfort to severe pain. It has a variety of causes. Your health care provider will find out the likely cause of your breast tenderness by examining your breasts, asking you about symptoms, and ordering some tests. Breast tenderness usually does not mean you have breast cancer.


Breast tenderness often can be handled at home. You can try:

  • Getting fitted for a new bra that provides more support, especially during exercise.

  • Wearing a more supportive bra or sports bra while sleeping when your breasts are very tender.

  • If you have a breast injury, apply ice to the area:

  • Put ice in a plastic bag.

  • Place a towel between your skin and the bag.

  • Leave the ice on for 20 minutes, 2–3 times a day.

  • If your breasts are too full of milk as a result of breastfeeding, try:

  • Expressing milk either by hand or with a breast pump.

  • Applying a warm compress to the breasts for relief.

  • Taking over-the-counter pain relievers, if approved by your health care provider.

  • Taking other medicines that your health care provider prescribes. These may include antibiotic medicines or birth control pills.

Over the long term, your breast tenderness might be eased if you:

  • Cut down on caffeine.

  • Reduce the amount of fat in your diet.

Keep a log of the days and times when your breasts are most tender. This will help you and your health care provider find the cause of the tenderness and how to relieve it. Also, learn how to do breast exams at home. This will help you notice if you have an unusual growth or lump that could cause tenderness.


  • Any part of your breast is hard, red, and hot to the touch. This could be a sign of infection.

  • Fluid is coming out of your nipples (and you are not breastfeeding). Especially watch for blood or pus.

  • You have a fever as well as breast tenderness.

  • You have a new or painful lump in your breast that remains after your menstrual period ends.

  • You have tried to take care of the pain at home, but it has not gone away.

  • Your breast pain is getting worse, or the pain is making it hard to do the things you usually do during your day.