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Is it normal for breasts to hurt after ovulation?

Nikki Stevenson

Nikki Stevenson

Nikki is a parenting writer and a mom to three wild boys who keep her on her toes (and occasionally make her question her sanity). With over 15 years of experience in the parenting industry, she has more tips and tricks than Mary Poppins on speed dial. When she's not typing away at her keyboard, you can find her sipping on coffee, hiding in the bathroom for five minutes of...
Created on May 08, 2024 · 7 mins read
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Your body is a magnificent thing, and understanding the mechanics of what happens during your cycle can help you prepare for some of the more uncomfortable symptoms, such as swollen breasts during ovulation.

Do breasts hurt during ovulation?

Similarly, if you’re trying to get pregnant and looking for indications or symptoms of ovulation, sore breasts are frequently one of them. Yep, on top of the menstrual cramps women feel during their period, some women also have to endure sore and tender breasts during ovulation. If you’ve noticed your breasts hurt during ovulation and you’re not sure why, keep reading…

What causes breast soreness after ovulation?

It’s normal to have breast tenderness throughout your cycle, including during ovulation in the middle of your cycle. Your breasts may feel heavier, softer, and fuller than usual due to the pain, known medically as “cyclical mastalgia.”

During the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, which is the phase following ovulation if fertilisation doesn’t take place — it lasts roughly 14 days and finishes right before a period — there is an imbalance between oestrogen and progesterone levels.

In this phase of the cycle, lower progesterone levels compared to oestrogen can cause mastalgia and breast tenderness.

Prolactin hormone secretion issues
Breast pain and tenderness can occur as a result of a hormonal imbalance caused by stress. There are typically two types of breast pain – cyclical breast pain and non-cyclical breast pain.

  • Cyclical breast pain: Relates to your period and changing hormones. This pain is typically more of a dull, heavy ache and often appears alongside breast swelling. It typically affects both breasts and intensifies two weeks leading up to your period. This pain is caused by changing hormone levels that can cause shifts in the milk glands or milk ducts. These can create breast cysts, hence the pain.
  • Non-cyclical breast pain: Breast pain unrelated to your period. Instead of a dull ache, the pain is more sharp, burning and stabbing. It usually affects on breast and is more localised, plus has more constant pain. This may indicate other issues worth addressing with a doctor, as its cause most likely isn’t hormonal changes in the menstrual cycle. It could be related to past breast surgery, trauma or other factors.

The duration of sore breasts post-ovulation

After ovulation, sore breasts are typically caused by the hormone progesterone and are a highly reliable indicator that you have ovulated.

Your progesterone rises each day following ovulation until you either receive your period — at which point it drops — or you are pregnant (then look out for those pregnancy symptoms or get a pregnancy test ready).

How long do your breasts stay sore after ovulation? Breast pain or nipple pain usually continues through to your period arriving. But each case varies, so your breast pain might continue for longer or shorter than that.

Distinguishing between ovulation and other causes

Breast tenderness can be confusing as it may signal ovulation or it might be an early sign of pregnancy. The hormonal shifts responsible for breast pain during the luteal phase also play a significant role during early pregnancy, intensifying the tenderness and can continue as your pregnancy progresses. This overlap makes it crucial to distinguish between the typical cyclical pain associated with your menstrual cycle and potential pregnancy indicators or other health issues.

Managing soreness

Experiencing breast pain is never fun, even if it’s connected to a healthy and normal menstrual cycle or due to pregnancy hormones. Finding a comfortable and supportive bra can help ease pain in swollen breasts. Using pain medication is also very normal. Cold or warm compresses can bring comfort to sore boobs. You can take steps like lowering caffeine intake (sorry!) or adding flaxseed into your diet, as both have studies supporting that they lessen breast soreness.

In addition to these methods, consider the following tips for painful breasts:

  • Wear well-fitting bras: Ensuring your bras provide proper support without being too tight can significantly reduce discomfort. Opt for bras with good coverage and soft materials during your most sensitive phases. This can also help in early pregnancy so start thinking about is when you get that positive pregnancy test.
  • Adjust your diet: Some women find relief by adjusting their diets during periods of significant hormonal fluctuation. Incorporating foods rich in vitamins and minerals, like magnesium and vitamin E, may help alleviate pain.
  • Regular exercise: Engaging in regular, gentle exercise can improve blood circulation and help reduce overall breast discomfort. Activities like yoga or walking can be particularly beneficial.
  • Stress management: Since stress can exacerbate hormonal imbalances, finding effective ways to manage stress through mindfulness, meditation, or therapy can also reduce symptoms of breast tenderness.

When it's more than just ovulation

If your breast pain doesn’t seem to be linked to your cycle and doesn’t go away after 1-2 menstrual cycles, that might be the point of getting it evaluated by a doctor. Particularly if the pain is a burning or stabbing sensation or only affects one breast. It’s essential to monitor the nature of the pain.

  • Persistent pain:
    If the soreness persists outside the usual cyclical pattern, especially if the pain is localised and constant, it could be a sign of non-cyclical breast pain.
  • Unusual symptoms:
    Any accompanying symptoms like a discharge from the nipples, significant changes in breast shape or texture, or the presence of a lump should prompt immediate medical attention.
  • Severe symptoms:
    Intense, unbearable pain that disrupts daily activities is not typical and should be evaluated. A healthcare provider can offer diagnostic tests, such as mammograms or ultrasounds, to determine the cause of breast pain and recommend appropriate treatment options, ensuring that any underlying issues are addressed promptly.

FAQs on breast soreness post-ovulation

1. Does experiencing breast pain indicate a problem?
Experiencing breast pain post-ovulation is typically linked to normal hormonal fluctuations during your menstrual cycle and is usually not a cause for concern. However, if the pain persists or is accompanied by unusual symptoms, it’s wise to consult your healthcare provider.

2. Are there specific exercises to help with breast soreness?
While there’s no specific exercise to reduce breast soreness, maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, can help manage hormonal fluctuations and alleviate symptoms. Activities such as yoga and Pilates, which promote relaxation and stress reduction, might be particularly beneficial.

3. How does progesterone influence breast soreness?
Progesterone levels rise after ovulation and can cause the milk glands in the breasts to swell, leading to soreness. This is a normal part of the menstrual cycle for many women and typically resolves as hormone levels fluctuate.

4. Do breasts hurt during implantation?
Yes, your breasts can hurt during implantation, which may be one of the first symptoms of pregnancy due to the hormone changes in your body.

As Dr. Christine Catling, Director of Midwifery Studies at UTS explains, “Implantation is when the fertilised egg successfully reaches the uterus and attaches itself to the uterine wall. Fertilisation happened nearly a week ago and your little egg has mustered all of its strength to travel the entirety of the fallopian tube to your uterus. Once this has successfully attached itself to the uterine wall, your egg is set up to start rapidly growing. The act of implantation doesn’t happen for nearly 7–14 days after you’ve had sex and this is the official time that you’re considered pregnant. In general, you will have next to no clue when implantation has occurred. There will likely be no feeling at all, so steer clear from analysing every slight cramp in your abdomen during this time,” Christine adds.

6. Why do my nipples hurt during ovulation?
Before ovulation, oestrogen and luteinising hormone levels are higher, causing some people to experience breast pain and nipple pain when oestrogen stimulates breast tissue.

Shortly after ovulation, progesterone levels increase and oestrogen levels decrease, which may result in breast soreness or sore nipples due to these hormonal variations. If a woman becomes pregnant, progesterone levels will increase, and nipples or breasts may become sore as a result of the hormonal changes affecting breast tissue. Sore and sensitive nipples are also often among the first signs and symptoms of early pregnancy.

7. Are there any other symptoms of ovulation?
Breast tenderness during ovulation can accompany several other symptoms, including:

  • Discharge
  • Your basal body temperature (BTT) increases
  • Bloating and abdominal pains
  • Headaches and nausea can often be a side effect of changes in oestrogen and progesterone levels



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