If a routine exam check-up with your doctor reveals you’ve got fibrocystic breast disease, it’s understandable to be a bit concerned. Fibrocystic breast disease is common and harmless. Let’s go through the facts on fibrocystic breast disease and what it means for you.
What is fibrocystic breast disease?
Fibrocystic breast disease (also called fibrocystic breasts or fibrocystic breast changes) is a benign breast condition characterized by painful lumps in the breasts. The lumps may be hard or squishy depending on the cells that make them up, and they are often moveable. You tend to notice the painful lumps particularly before a period.
Fibrocystic breast disease doesn’t raise your risk of developing breast cancer. It’s thought to be a normal variation on breast tissue, and it’s found in more than 50% of women.1
What causes fibrocystic breast disease?
The exact cause of fibrocystic breast disease still isn’t clear, but it seems to be related to the hormonal ebb and flow of the menstrual cycle.
Each month, estrogen and progesterone stimulate the growth of the milk-producing cells of the breast. When the menstrual cycle is over, the milk-producing cells break down. It’s thought that fibrocystic breast disease occurs at some point in this overall process.
Symptoms of fibrocystic breast disease
Symptoms of fibrocystic breast disease can differ from person to person, but you may notice:
- Lumps inside the breast
- Swelling or heaviness in the breasts
- Breast pain or tenderness
- Nipple discharge
These symptoms are often worse before a period. Not everyone notices the symptoms of fibrocystic breast disease on their own. You may only learn about them as part of a routine checkup with your doctor.
Fibrocystic breast disease and pregnancy
Fibrocystic breast disease won’t cause you any harm during pregnancy or breastfeeding. As your body prepares for lactation, you can expect to notice a lot of changes in your breasts. It’s important to stay aware of changes, so don’t hesitate to raise it with your OB-GYN if you notice any changes you’re concerned about.
Should I see a doctor for fibrocystic breast disease?
Fibrocystic breast disease doesn’t cause you any harm. However, it’s not always possible to distinguish a harmless lump from the early stages of breast cancer on your own.
If still important to get checked out by a doctor whenever you notice changes in your breasts to be on the safe side – especially if you have a family history of breast cancers. An ultrasound scan or tissue biopsy may be performed to rule out the possibility of breast cancer.
After making sure you don’t have breast cancer, the good news is that fibrocystic breast disease doesn’t generally require treatment. If you’re experiencing severe premenstrual symptoms like breast pain that are interfering with your daily life, you may wish to talk to your doctor about hormonal birth control.
In general, though, the discomfort from fibrocystic breast disease usually resolves as you approach menopause.
Remedies for fibrocystic breast disease
Fibrocystic breast disease is a regular part of having breasts, but some women have found lifestyle and diet changes relieve some of the discomfort that can go with them. Once you’ve seen a doctor to be sure fibrocystic breast disease is what you’re dealing with, you may want to try:
Changing bra size
It’s estimated that up to 80% of women are wearing the wrong sized bra, which can aggravate breast pain and discomfort. Make sure you’re getting the support you need by getting properly fitted.
Vitamin E and evening primrose oil
Vitamin E and evening primrose oil can be used to relieve the symptoms of fibrocystic breast disease. However, it’s important to speak to your doctor before taking them in your body through foods or supplements to make sure they’re suitable for you.
There isn’t enough evidence to support it, but many women claim that the symptoms of fibrocystic breast disease improved after cutting out caffeine from their diet. You may want to try reducing or eliminating your intake of coffee, tea, chocolate and sodas for a few months see if you notice any improvements.
Fibrocystic breast disease won’t hurt you
If you notice a lump or unusual change in your breast, see a doctor to work out what’s going on, but remember: in many cases, breast lumps turn out to be harmless fibrocystic breast disease. Fibrocystic breast disease is a very common condition and more than half of women develop it. However, if it causes you severe discomfort, talk to a doctor to get the suitable treatment for you.