|Condition||What is it?||When does it occur?||Treatment|
|Fibroadenomas (fibrous lump)||
||These commonly occur between the ages of 35-50, but they may occasionally occur in younger women.||
|Benign fibrocystic disease||Some women have a combination of cysts and thickened breast tissue. This lump may vary with the menstrual cycle in some women who are sensitive to hormonal changes in breast tissue.||The likelihood of this combination occurring increases with age and is a common cause of non-cancerous lumps.||
These problems often disappear after menopause, but may persist if you take hormone replacement therapy.
While you're pregnant or breastfeeding it is quite normal for discharge or milk to leak from your nipples – this will gradually cease after you have weaned your baby.
Sometimes discharge from the nipple can be blood stained, watery or contains pus (there are a number of different causes for this).
Nipple discharge can be caused by:
You should see your doctor if:
Although often caused by harmless conditions, any new symptoms may indicate a breast cancer.
Inflammation of the breast (mastitis)
|This causes redness, heat, lumpiness and pain in the affected breast tissue.
Most commonly this is caused by an infection during breastfeeding, but it can occur at other times due to blockage and inflammation of the breast duct with an infection.
Treatment may include:
Treatment with antibiotics needs to be started immediately to prevent an abscess forming. If an abscess forms, a small surgical procedure is required to drain it.
|Painful breasts (mastalgia)||
Often this is linked to the menstrual cycle, with your breasts becoming tender or painful just before your period. This is a normal occurrence caused by fluid retention because of hormonal activity at that time.
It is wise to have it checked by your doctor who may be able to suggest ways to manage the discomfort.
Both the contraceptive pill and hormone replacement therapy can cause breast discomfort in some women. Sometimes a change in the prescribed type of hormone may be necessary. Ask your doctor for more information.
How to relieve breast tenderness or pain
- A warm shower, bath or hot water bottle to the breast
- An ice pack over the breast may be more effective than warmth
- A comfortable, supportive bra such as a sports bra
- Going without a bra may be more comfortable
- Reduce your intake of caffeine including coffee, tea, cola and chocolate
- Reduce your intake of salt and fat
- Although there is no scientific evidence to support that they are effective, you can try the following combination of supplements:
- vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
- vitamin B1 (thiamine) and
- evening primrose oil – consult an accredited naturopath for doses
If none of the above relieves your breast discomfort, seek advice from your doctor.
When to see your doctor
If you have any of the breast problems listed above, a visit to your doctor is recommended.
You should see your doctor about:
- new lumps
- new lumpiness
- changes in the shape of your breast
- changes in the colour of your breast
- changes in the nipple
- discharge from your nipple
- any persistent breast pain
This web page is designed to be informative and educational. It is not intended to provide specific medical advice or replace advice from your health practitioner. The information above is based on current medical knowledge, evidence and practice as at January 2014.