Do Breasts Hurt During Ovulation? (What to Expect when TTC)
You probably already know that breast pain and tenderness is a common symptom that occurs before and during menstruation – however, it’s also common to experience it mid-cycle around ovulation. This type of breast pain, often referred to as cyclical mastalgia, can cause the breasts to feel fuller, heavier, and more tender to the touch than normal.
If you’re not aware that this is a symptom of ovulation, you may feel alarmed or concerned about this mid-cycle pain. To help, here’s a look at how ovulation and breast soreness are connected, potential symptoms you may experience, and how long you can expect these symptoms to last during your cycle.
How common is breast soreness during ovulation?
The American Pregnancy Association lists breast tenderness as a secondary symptom of ovulation. This means that although some women may experience this symptom, it is not as common as the primary symptoms (i.e. changes in cervical fluid, cervical positioning, and basal body temperature).
How is breast pain (mastalgia) related to ovulation?
There are several fertility hormones involved that drive the process of ovulation. This includes Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), estrogen, luteinizing hormone (LH), and progesterone.
Simply put, these fluctuating hormones can cause noticeable physical symptoms in the body – one of which is breast pain and soreness (also known as mastalgia). Here’s a closer look at the specific causes behind the pain, symptoms you may experience, and treatment options to relieve and prevent this pain.
Although more research is needed to explore the direct causes of mastalgia around ovulation, John Hopkins Medicine does name a few research-backed causes:
- An imbalance of progesterone and estrogen during the luteal phase, where progesterone levels are lower than estrogen levels
- Abnormalities with the hormone prolactin
- Stress, which can cause an overall hormonal imbalance
When breast pain is related to ovulation, it can begin as early as your LH surge and subside once ovulation is complete. It can range in intensity with some women barely noticing it while others may find it very painful.
The most common symptoms include:
- Dull, achy pain in the breasts
- Pain in and around both nipples
- Pain in and around one nipple
- General swelling of the breasts
- Breast sensitivity
- Sensitivity in the underarms
Treatment for mastalgia can depend on the severity of your situation, lifestyle, and overall health. However, for immediate pain relief, doctors often recommend the following:
- Wearing a comfortable, supportive bra
- Taking an anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen
- Avoiding caffeine around ovulation
In terms of long-term treatments to mitigate symptoms related to cyclical mastalgia, your doctor may explore any of the following options:
- Prescribing or changing your birth control
- Prescription pain medication
- Hormone therapy
How long do your breasts stay sore before and after ovulation?
If your breast pain is due to hormonal fluctuations around ovulation, it will typically begin a few days before ovulation and end once ovulation is over. However, timing can vary among women. The best way to predict and monitor the patterns of your breast pain is by charting your individual symptoms in a diary or an app.
What are the other signs of ovulation?
In addition to breast pain, there are other noticeable symptoms that occur around ovulation. Here’s a brief look at three of the main ones including cervical music, basal body temperature, and increase in sex drive.
Changes to the texture and consistency of your cervical mucus is one of the main signs of ovulation. This is because when estrogen surges, it affects the way that your cervical mucus looks and feels in order to help your body get pregnant.
In terms of color and consistency, here is what you can expect:
- Immediately before ovulation, the volume of vaginal discharge increases and appears transparent in color with a slippery/stretchy texture
- During ovulation, cervical mucus begins to develop the consistency of raw egg whites
- After ovulation, discharge decreases and becomes more cloudy in appearance
To learn more about how discharge and cervical mucus change during ovulation, check out our article: Cervical Mucus Changes During Ovulation.
Raise in body temperature in the morning
In addition to changes in cervical mucus, another common sign of ovulation is a rise in your basal body temperature (BBT). This temperature increase can be detected in the days following ovulation, and tracking your BBT over time is a great way to confirm whether or not you have ovulated.
So how much of an increase can you expect? On average, a typical woman’s BBT lies between 97-97.5 degrees Fahrenheit during the follicular phase (i.e. before ovulation). However, after ovulation, this temperature rises to an average of 97.6-98.6 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the luteal phase.
To learn more about how your basal body temperature changes during and after ovulation, check out our article: A Guide to Basal Body Temperature and Ovulation (+BBT Chart).
Increased sexual desire
You may also notice an increase in sex drive around ovulation. In a sense, this is your body’s way of telling you that it’s the right time to try to get pregnant. The driving force behind this increase in sexual desire can be attributed to rising estrogen levels.
In addition to an increase in sex drive, you may also find yourself feeling more energetic, creative, happier, and friendlier than normal.
To learn more about the driving forces behind why you feel an increase in sex drive before ovulation, check out our article: Here’s How Your Cycle Affects Your Sex Drive.
Can breast pain be a sign of pregnancy?
Yes, the American Pregnancy Association lists tender, swollen breasts as one of the most common signs of pregnancy. Like other early pregnancy symptoms, the cause of this breast pain can be chalked up to fluctuating hormones.
How to distinguish breast tenderness from pregnancy or ovulation
Because the symptoms of ovulation and early pregnancy are so similar, it can be difficult to determine what’s causing them. Here’s a quick look at how to distinguish between breast pain due to ovulation and breast pain due to pregnancy.
Proximity to ovulation
If breast pain occurs at the same time each month, and it typically occurs mid-cycle around ovulation, this is a good indicator that it is caused by ovulation and not pregnancy. Alternatively, if the pain occurs at an unexpected time of your cycle, it could be an early sign of pregnancy.
How long the breast pain lasts/doesn’t go away
If breast pain resolves itself once ovulation is complete, this likely indicates that it is related to your normal hormonal patterns. However, if it continues to last in the weeks following ovulation and into your next cycle, this could indicate early pregnancy.
What are some other causes of breast pain?
While cyclical breast pain due to fluctuating hormones is the most common type of breast pain, there are other potential causes including:
- Infection (such as mastitis)
- Breast cancer
- Fibrocystic breasts, cysts, and fibroadenomas
- Skin conditions, such as eczema
- Certain medications
- Wearing a bra that is too tight or lacking in support
If you are concerned about the intensity or frequency of your breast pain, it’s a good idea to speak with your doctor. They can run further testing and assess your individual situation.
Ovulation breast pain FAQs
Are sore nipples a sign of early pregnancy?
Yes. The American Pregnancy Association lists breast tenderness and sensitive nipples as an early sign of pregnancy.
Do breasts enlarge during ovulation?
For some women, yes, their breasts do swell and enlarge during ovulation. It is also common for the breasts to change in texture, with many women reporting that their breasts feel “lumpier” than usual.
How many days do you ovulate?
Ovulation is one moment in time. However, the period of time before ovulation that is connected with the LH surge and the most prominent symptoms of ovulation lasts for approximately 24-36 hours.
To learn more about the process of ovulation and how long it lasts, check out our article: Calculating Your Fertile Window: How Long Does Ovulation Last?