There are many reasons breasts can be painful. Breast pain by itself is unlikely to be a symptom of cancer.

Breast pain is usually linked to periods

Symptoms of breast pain caused by periods:

  • dull, heavy or aching pain – from mild to very bad
  • pain that begins up to 2 weeks before a period, gets worse and then goes away when the period ends
  • usually (but not always) affects both breasts and sometimes pain spreads to the armpit

How to ease the pain yourself

You can:

  • take paracetamol or ibuprofen, or rub painkilling gel on your breasts
  • wear a properly fitted bra during the day and a soft bra to sleep in

There’s little evidence that vitamin E tablets or evening primrose oil help with breast pain.

See a GP about breast pain if:

  • it’s not improving or painkillers aren’t helping
  • you have a very high temperature or feel hot and shivery
  • any part of your breast is red, hot or swollen
  • there’s a history of breast cancer in your family
  • you have any signs of pregnancy – you could do a pregnancy test first