In addition to cramping, back pain, nausea, bloating and mood swings, many women also experience breast tenderness in the days surrounding their periods. Sore breasts can be confusing, especially when the soreness occurs after your period ends. Having a clear understanding of the changes that take place in your body throughout your menstrual cycle will help shed some light on why exactly you experience this tenderness.
Your menstrual cycle is your body's way of preparing for pregnancy. You calculate your menstrual period by counting the number of days from the first day of your period until the first day of the next period, which is usually about 28 days, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Part of your body's pregnancy preparation involves shifts in female hormones throughout the duration of your menstrual cycle.
Menstrual Cycle Stages
The American Pregnancy Association states that your menstrual cycle is divided into two stages; the follicular stage and the luteal stage. During the follicular stage--lasting from the first day of your menstrual period until ovulation---increasing levels of oestrogen cause your uterine lining to thicken and an egg in one of your ovaries to mature. The luteal stage begins when your ovary releases the mature egg into your Fallopian tube and lasts until the first day of your next period. During this stage of your menstrual cycle, the follicle that released the mature egg produces higher levels of progesterone, which prepares your uterus to receive and nurture the fertilised egg.
If the ripe egg released from your ovary does not get fertilised, your body's levels of progesterone and oestrogen drop drastically; your body doesn't need high hormone levels to support your pregnancy since you didn't conceive. The unfertilised egg disintegrates and leaves your body in the monthly flow of blood that you know as your menstrual period. The beginning of this period also marks the beginning of your next menstrual cycle and the beginning of your body's preparations for pregnancy once again.
One of the key female hormones involved in your menstrual cycle is oestrogen. During the follicular stage of your menstrual cycle, the levels of oestrogen in your bloodstream increase daily until they trigger ovulation. Without accompanying high levels of progesterone to offset its effects, the oestrogen dominates your body during the first half of your menstrual cycle. Since oestrogen is the female hormone that causes breast development, the rising levels of this hormone in your body during the first half of your menstrual cycle often causes breast soreness or tenderness during and after your period.
Experiencing breast tenderness after your period simply indicates that your body is producing adequate levels of the female hormone oestrogen. If you experience excessive breast tenderness before, during and after your period, accompanied by recurrent miscarriage or the inability to get pregnant for more than a year, then you may be producing too little progesterone or too much oestrogen. If you suspect your breast tenderness may be due to hormone imbalances, talk to your doctor about hormone testing.