Ever wonder what your breasts are telling you? They seem to be in a constant state of flux. They grow and shrink, they react to weather, babies, and hormones — they're like mammary barometers dressed up in lace and underwire. What does all that breast pain mean? Is breast pain a sign of ovulation?
Breast pain, known in medicine as mastalgia, is a common occurrence for women. According to Johns Hopkins, there are two forms: cyclic and noncyclic. Cyclic, they define as pertaining to a woman's cycle. Non-cyclic breast pain is typically related to nearby muscles and joints, but radiates to the breasts, noted Johns Hopkins. They also noted that breast pain is only rarely related to breast cancer, so, for my fellow hypochondriacs, you're welcome.
And yes, breast pain is also a documented secondary sign of ovulation, according to The American Pregnancy Association. In fact, it's so well-documented, that studies often use it as one of their primary questions in regards to determining ovulation and fertility. The levels of discomfort vary widely from barely noticeable to so extreme that snug clothing is unwearable, according to Johns Hopkins.
Why do breasts get tender with ovulation? When you ovulate, your body's estrogen levels are piqued, according to the Main Line Fertility Clinics in Pennsylvania. The release of estrogen into the blood stream increases the blood flow to distal regions of the body, like the breasts, and also the heart, a study in Stroke noted. This increased blood flow, like that which happens during pregnancy, increases sensitivity, and can cause the breasts to swell and ache, suggested Maternal-Child Nursing.
There's also a mating reason for breasts to act the way they do during ovulation. According to Psychology Today, breasts plump, becoming more round and symmetrical to lure in the best partner with which to breed. It accentuates the waist-hip ratio, and pitches female voices higher in the physiological showing of plumage.
Alas, it's not a hard and fast sign of ovulation. In fact, according to BMC Women's Health, some women never experience it at all, at least not to a noticeable degree. So while it's common, it's not an absolute. It's also a sign of pregnancy, PMS, stress, and arousal. Your breasts may be good barometers, but they point in all directions — and not just when you're lying down without a bra on.