“Boob cramps” are a real thing — and here’s how to deal

The closer we get to menstruating, the weirder the things are that happen to our bodies. We get strange cravings for salty snacks and sweet desserts, and our mood swings make the simplest of tasks incredibly annoying to tackle. One especially strange side effect you might experience right around the time of your period is breast pain. Your boobs might feel heavy, sore, and very tender. You and your friends may refer to this sensation as “boob cramps.”

If you’ve never experienced this before, well, lucky you. If you have, though, you’re definitely not alone. In 2015, a survey conducted by Harris Poll found that 68 percent of women between the ages of 25 and 45 regularly experience discomfort in their boobs just before their period hits. So it’s much more common than you might think.


Hello Giggles spoke with Alyssa Dweck, M.D., gynecologist in New York, assistant clinical professor OBGYN, and author of V is for Vagina, who says there are a few different reasons why your breasts might be particularly tender during this time of the month.

"Hormonally things are in a crazy turmoil," she says. Your estrogen plummets and your progesterone soars, both of which directly affect how your breasts feel.

Furthermore, all those crazy food cravings you have when you’re PMSing — or, as Dr. Dweck calls them, “PMS diet changes” — could have something to do with those boob cramps.

If you’ve got an affinity for salty and sweet foods, all that water retention that takes place in your body can cause breast tenderness. Relying on a lot of coffee to get you through the day may have something to do with it as well, as an excess amount of caffeine can contribute to tender breasts, Dr. Dweck says.


The Mayo Clinic also states that your breast tissue can become lumpy or thicker depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle.

As a result, your boobs hurt more than usual if you accidentally elbow yourself when you’re PMSing (hey, it happens to the best of us).

So what are we supposed to do with this information? What are we to do with our sore premenstrual boobs?

For starters, make sure your breasts are properly supported. Wear a bra that fits the right way, especially if you’re more well-endowed. Big boobs that aren’t treated right will cause more pain than you might expect.

Dr. Dweck also suggests that you watch your diet. Stick to healthy, whole foods that won’t cause your body to retain water and your breasts swell. Yep, that means you should probably take it easy on the salt-heavy takeout and late night ice cream runs. Don’t toss back too much caffeine either, and consider eating foods that are rich in vitamin E, which are known to reduce breast swelling.

Of course, if you have any specific questions about what your body and your breasts have been up to these days, speak to your OBGYN. They’ll be able to tell you when something is abnormal or cause for concern. In the meantime, just keep taking care of yourself in the best way you can. You might be surprised that you can keep your boob cramps to a minimum if you just put in the slightest amount of effort.

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