Uncomfortable or tender breasts that occur shortly before your period arrives, are due to the natural cycles of the reproductive hormones oestrogen and progesterone. These hormones signal the cells of the milk-producing glands in the breasts to grow, and the areas around these glands then expand with blood and other fluids to help nourish the cells. The fluid-logged tissue can stretch the nerve fibres, causing discomfort and sometimes pain.
Take careBreasts are just as delicate as the facial area, yet we don't cleanse them as carefully. Consider using a good face-cleansing product or one of the specialised breast-cleaning
products on the market, to ensure that the breast skin isn't irritated.
Prevent an uncomfortable skin rash by drying carefully
underneath your breasts.
Don't use any potential irritants around the nipple
area such as hair-removal wax or any other hair-removal
product. Rather remove nipple hair with a tweezer and apply some antiseptic cream immediately afterwards.
Never squeeze any spots that might appear on your breasts,
especially near the nipples as they could easily become infected.
It's a wrap
Many breastfeeding moms swear by the soothing powers of raw cabbage leaves for swollen and tender breasts. Keep them in the fridge and put them inside your bra. It will help to relieve some of the discomfort.
1940s Padded bra
1950s Strapless bra
1963 Push-up plunge bra
1994 Launch of the Wonder Bra
2000 Silicone gel-filled bra
Back to front
Most women first fasten their bra in front and then
turn it round, slipping the breasts in before putting
the shoulder straps on. Rather try to hold the bra
in front of you and then lean forward into the bra
with your nipples in the centre of the cup before
fastening the bra.
Any lump that you discover should always be checked by
your doctor. About 90% of breast lumps are not found by doctors or mammograms but by women doing breast exams themselves – that's why it's so important
that you examine your breasts regularly. The best time to do this is one week after your period begins because lumps may sometimes surface shortly before menstruation, only to disappear again afterwards.
While in the shower or bath, explore the breast and underarm
areas with your fingertips. Raise one arm and place your hand behind your head. Slowly and methodically move the pads of your fingertips over the breasts in a circular motion. Also feel the armpit and nipple areas. You could do the same test while lying in bed, with your arm tucked
behind your head.
Now stand in front of the mirror with your arms raised above your head to check for changes in size, shape or contour. Check if there is any nipple discharge. Look out for lumps in the breasts and armpits, a puckering of the skin of the breasts, an unusual increase in the size of
one breast, a new dimpling of the nipple, enlargement of the glands, a change in the skin around the nipple, an unusual swelling in the armpit, or a breast that is suddenly
noticeably lower than the other.
For more information, call the Cancer Association of South
Africa (CANSA) toll free on 0800 22 66 22.