Nipple tenderness and menopause will be discussed in a moment, but first let’s celebrate the female breast. Our breasts are a vital part of our sexuality. We are the only female mammals who develop full breasts long before they are needed to nurse our offspring.
Our breasts develop in distinct stages throughout our life: our breasts start developing before birth, continue to develop again at puberty and then during our childbearing years.
Our breasts go through cyclical changes during every menstrual cycle and more changes when we reach menopause. So our breasts develop and change as we age.
- Lubule development which takes place between the ages of 10 and 25
- Glandular development which is influenced by menstrual hormones and happens between ages 13 and 45
- Involution or shrinkage of the milk ducts which happens from age 35 on
Nipple tenderness and menopause Question 1: What Happens To Our Breasts During Menstruation?
There are cyclical changes in our breasts every month during menstruation because of the fluctuations in hormones that occur during the normal menstrual cycle.
Estrogen is produced by the ovaries in the first half of the menstrual cycle and this stimulates the growth of milk ducts in the breasts… just to be ready in case of pregnancy. The increased level of estrogen leads to ovulation halfway through the menstrual cycle.
Then the hormone progesterone takes over in the second half of the menstrual cycle to stimulate the formation of the milk glands… again, we have to be ready every month… you never know when that baby may be on its way!
But it is these hormones that are responsible for the cyclical changes in our breasts, which produce breast swelling, pain, tenderness and nipple tenderness that we experience just before menstruation.
Nipple tenderness and menopause Question 2: What Happens To Our Breasts During Menopause?
Nipple tenderness and menopause Fact: When we reach our late 40’s and 50’s, we are entering menopause or menopause is well under way. As we have already discussed, the levels of estrogen and progesterone are in flux: estrogen levels are dramatically decreasing.
With this reduction in the stimulation by estrogen to all tissues of the body, including our breast tissue, there is a reduction in the glandular tissue of the breasts. Without estrogen the connective tissue of the breast becomes dehydrated and less elastic and the breast tissue, which before was prepared to make milk, now shrinks and loses shape.
This can lead to the “sagging” of the breasts – Another nipple tenderness and menopause Fact:.
However, during sexual arousal, your breasts will swell, perhaps not quite as they used to, and your nipples become tender and sensitized and firm. The coloured circular area around the nipple swells during sexual arousal.
If you go on hormone replacement therapy for your menopause symptoms you may experience the same breast symptoms you had during menstruation: swelling, pain, tenderness and nipple tenderness.
After starting to take hormone replacement therapy nipple tenderness can occur and last for three or four months. After this period the tenderness will usually decrease and not be a problem.
Just as a note this problem with pre-menstrual breast symptoms would not be the case if you were taking a natural alternative hormone replacement product.
Nipple tenderness and menopause Question 3: What Causes Nipple Tenderness In Menopause?
Nipple tenderness and menopause Fact: Our bodies produce estrogen, progesterone and testosterone in a delicate balance until we stop ovulating. When ovulation stops the ovaries stop producing progesterone and this throws our body out of balance.
This progesterone deficiency can cause such menopausal symptoms as sleep disturbance, mood swings and weight gain (from diminished thyroid function).
So now that there is an excessive amount of estrogen with not enough progesterone to balance it out, this causes vaginal dryness and hot flashes and affects our bone and heart health. The reduction of testosterone accounts for the loss of libido.
But it is this excess estrogen that causes breast and nipple tenderness, PMS, cramps and irregular menstrual cycles during peri menopause. It can also cause over stimulation of the breast glandular tissue and uterus causing breast cancers and fibroid tumors in the uterus.
Nipple tenderness and menopause Fact: Nipple tenderness during menopause can be caused by inadequate lubricant secretion by the sebaceous glands of the areola region of the breast. Nipple tenderness can also be caused by bacterial or fungal infection of the nipple.
Nipple Tenderness & Menopause Signs And Symptoms
These are some of the symptoms of nipple tenderness:
- Nipple tenderness and menopause – Redness, tenderness and/or cracking of the skin surface of the nipple
- Nipple tenderness and menopause – Nipple discharge
- Nipple tenderness and menopause – Breast tenderness
If the symptoms of nipple tenderness in menopause become more severe then you may be dealing with a more serious condition, such as breast cancer.
These are the signs to watch for that may indicate breast cancer:
- Any new lump or hard knot found in the breast or armpit
- Any lump or thickening that does not shrink or lessen after menstruation
- A thickening or swelling of the breast
- Any dimpling, puckering or indentation in the breast
- Dimpling, skin irritation or other change in the breast skin or nipple
- Redness or scaliness of the nipple or breast skin
- Nipple discharge that is bloody, clear and sticky, dark or occurs without squeezing the nipple
- Nipple tenderness or pain that persists
- Nipple retraction; that is, the nipple turns or draws inward or points in a new direction
Nipple tenderness and menopause Fact: Any breast changes or nipple tenderness that concerns you should be cause for you to consult with your physician.