Menopause & swollen breasts

Updated November 21, 2016

If you are a woman of a certain age (40 or beyond) and suddenly find that your breasts have increased in size and are sore and sensitive to the touch, blame it on your hormones. Hormones tend to get out of sync during the peri-menopausal years leading up to the grand finale (menopause), and this can result in swollen breast tissue.

Oestrogen and Progesterone

When oestrogen levels dip and progesterone levels are up and the two hormones are no longer working together in harmony as they once did, breast size will increase and breasts may become very sore and tender. Progesterone is not generated if ovulation does not occur. Many pre-menopausal women don't ovulate regularly during the years leading up to menopause. If progesterone levels are deficient, oestrogen goes unchecked.

Perfect Barometer

According to, if a woman pays attention to her breasts, their size and whether they're sensitive or swollen, it is the perfect barometer for determining what state you are in regarding your hormones. Breasts sensations can be used to determine progesterone levels in your body. If your breasts are swollen, this may mean that you are experiencing oestrogen dominance, which occurs because the progesterone level has diminished.

Oestrogen Overload

Swollen breasts are the classic telltale giveaway that oestrogen dominance is occurring, according to Breast tissue is quite sensitive to hormonal changes. If you take the pill or hormone replacement treatment (HRT), this will probably cause your breasts to swell and be sensitive. In the first few months of pregnancy and during puberty, you have oestrogen surges, and that's why you experienced swollen breasts and sensitivity at those times in your life. The same thing happens during menopause because your hormones are no longer in sync, and you may well be getting too much oestrogen and are no longer producing enough progesterone to counteract the effects of oestrogen.

A Good Hormone Gone Wild

Oestrogen is the hormone that stimulated breast growth and the development of the reproductive organs when you were a young woman. Oestrogen is vital to our health and serves many purposes; however, if it isn't counterbalanced by progesterone, which it often isn't during out transitional years, we get too much and that causes a host of menopausal-related symptoms.


Progesterone levels can be determined via a saliva test that you doctor can perform. This should be conducted between days 18 and 25 of your menstrual cycle. If your progesterone levels are low, you are probably experiencing oestrogen dominance, thus the swollen breasts, according to

Partners In Crime notes that oestrogen and progesterone are essentially partners in crime, and when they are not working in tandem, all you-know-what can break out. These two hormones are needed to prime or stimulate one another, and if one isn't doing its share, it will have an impact on the other one and many unpleasant symptoms can result, including swollen breasts.

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About the Author

Cindi Pearce is a graduate of Ohio University, where she received her bachelor’s degree in journalism. She completed both the undergraduate and graduate courses offered by the Institute of Children’s Literature. Pearce has been writing professionally for over 30 years.