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Women's Health

Tender breasts/swelling after menstruation



My breast are incredibly sensitive from about 4-5 days after menstruation to the start of the next cycle. I`m 38 and have had 3 children in the space of 18 months - with my twins I had pre-ecclampsia. At the same time that the breast tenderness starts, there is an overall swelling/bloating of my whole body, especially noticeable around the breasts, waist, tummy and thighs; my hands and feet also swell substantially. I have also found that I can`t seem to lose weight even though I`m on a healthy eating plan, and exercising, whereas before kids losing weight was not a problem. I am currently around 15kg overweight and is becoming a great convern for me. Before going to see a physician, I just wanted to get a general idea of what might be the problem. I would appreciate any advice. Many many thanks.


You have two issues here: First, lets talk about the breast tenderness which can have several common causes: related to the hormonal changes with menstruation, birth control pills or IUD, caffeine and smoking, fibrocystic breast disorder and more rare breast cancer (depending on other related factors and risk).

Second, is the issue of losing weight after childbirth, which has been difficult for some women to achieve. Much of weight problems that occur after childbirth is due to weight gained during pregnancy. Also, having short intervals between pregnancy also increases weight problems. Age also plays a role in losing weight in that it is harder (not impossible) to lose weight as you age.

Be careful to watch for hidden calories which is the most likely cause of weight gain. Even though the composition of the foods you are eating is healthy, the amount of calories that you are taking in are more than what you are burning off through exercise. Try to see within you diet where you can cut out an additional 500 calories per day which translates to 1-2 pounds weight loss by the end of the week. It is important to exercise for 30-60 minutes daily and add weight training to your workout to build up muscle, which will help you burn more calories. Visit you doctor and have him/ her check your thyroid to make sure that it is not underactive which can also be a reason for weight gain.

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Response by:

Esa M Davis, MD, MPH Esa M Davis, MD, MPH
Adjunct Assistant Professor of Family Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University