Mastalgia is breast pain. There are 2 types of mastalgia: cyclic and noncyclic. Cyclical breast pain is most often associated with menstrual periods. Noncyclical breast pain is not related to the menstrual cycle.
Mastalgia can be caused by: Hormonal changes associated with the menstrual cyclePregnancyTrauma to the breastMastitisThrombophlebitisStretching of breast ligamentsPressure from a braHidradenitis suppurativaCertain medications, such as hormone medications, antidepressants, or certain heart medications
Factors that may increase your chance of mastalgia: Having a history of breast surgery or breast injuryHaving large breasts
Symptoms of mastalgia may include pain in the breast area. Pain may be mild or severe.
It may occur in both breasts or just one. It may be painful only in one spot or all over the breast.
Call your doctor right away if you have any signs of infection, such as redness, tenderness, fever, or chills.
Call your doctor if you notice any other changes in your breasts, such as: Change in the size or shape of your breastDischarge from your nippleNew lumps or masses felt in the breastOther changes to the skin on your breasts, such as crusting, dimpling, or puckering
Call your doctor if your breast pain persists, interferes with your daily routine, or is in one specific area of your breast.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
The diagnosis is most often based a review of pain patterns and the physical exam.
Your doctor may
order further testing
look for any suspicious changes.
These tests may include: MammogramUltrasoundBreast biopsy
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment will be based on what is causing your breast pain. General treatment options include:
Topical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may reduce the pain associated with mastalgia.
Other medications may be prescribed to help reduce cyclical mastalgia.
If you are taking hormones, such as estrogen or progesterone, your doctor may make changes to your medications to reduce pain.
Your doctor may suggest some changes depending on the cause of your breast pain. These might include: Wearing a properly fitting bra that has good supportAvoiding caffeineEating a low-fat dietUsing a hot or cold compress
There are no current guidelines to prevent mastalgia.
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC)
Mastalgia. DynaMed website. Available at:
Updated August 17, 2015. Accessed July 22, 2013.
Morrow M. The evaluation of common breast problems.
Am Fam Physician. 2000;61(8):2371-2378.
Rosolowich V, Saettler E, Szuck B, et al. Mastalgia.
J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2006;28(1):49-71.
Last reviewed June 2016 by James Cornell, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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