Around half of the women with fibromyalgia report experiencing breast pain. Breast pain, or mastalgia, is something most women experience at some point in their lives, but women with fibromyalgia seem to experience the symptoms more intensely. And one of the most common causes of breast pain is something called fibrocystic breast disease.
Fibrocystic breast disease is quite common in women with fibromyalgia. And many people have suggested that there might be a link between the two conditions.
So, what is fibrocystic breast disease? Is it related to fibromyalgia? And what can you do to treat it?
What Is Fibrocystic Breast Disease?
Fibrocystic breast disease is a condition where the tissue of the breasts changes. The fibers begin to form cysts. And the cysts can change the way the breasts look and feel.
Often, fibrocystic breast disease doesn’t cause any noticeable symptoms. But some women with the condition notice pain or tenderness in the breast. In addition, they may be able to feel the cysts under the tissue. They may even notice a dark-colored discharge from the nipple.
The cysts can swell with the monthly menstrual cycle, which can make the symptoms worse. So, breast pain that gets worse during menstruation is a good sign of fibrocystic breast disease.
The condition is extremely common. And more than half of all women will experience it at some point in their lives. In fact, it’s so common that many doctors don’t consider it a disease, but rather a natural change that happens in some women’s bodies. For that reason, many prefer the term fibrocystic breasts instead of fibrocystic breast disease.
Besides the pain, the condition isn’t really serious. Having fibrocystic breasts doesn’t increase your risk of breast disease. And it doesn’t lead to severe complications. But it can be an unpleasant condition to live with, especially if you’re already struggling with fibromyalgia.
Is It Related To Fibromyalgia?
A large number of women with fibromyalgia experience fibrocystic breast changes. And with a condition like fibromyalgia, which seems to be linked to so many other conditions, it’s easy to imagine that the two conditions might be linked.
But there’s actually not a lot of hard, scientific evidence that tie the two conditions together. Fibrocystic breast disease is most likely tied to hormonal changes in the body. For instance, women in postmenopause rarely develop the condition, which strongly implies that hormones like estrogen play a role.
We also think that fibromyalgia might be linked to sex hormones. The vast majority of people with fibromyalgia are women. That implies that there may be a role for hormones like estrogen in the condition since otherwise there’s no obvious explanation for the difference in the rate of the condition among the genders.
But studies of women with fibromyalgia don’t seem to suggest that they have higher levels of estrogen than women who don’t have the condition. That doesn’t necessarily mean that there isn’t a link between fibromyalgia and elevated levels of estrogen. But the studies that have been done so far simply haven’t established that there is.
More importantly, fibrocystic breasts are very common. And simply because many women with fibromyalgia have the condition doesn’t mean that fibromyalgia leads to fibrocystic breasts. If women with fibromyalgia were more likely to have fibrocystic breasts, then it might be a sign that there was a link, but this doesn’t seem to be the case.
Fibrocystic breasts are simply very common, which explains why so many women with fibromyalgia have the condition. The good news is that there are things you can do to treat the condition.
How Is It Treated?
In most cases, treatment for the condition isn’t necessary. But if you’re experiencing severe pain, which is often the case in women who suffer from fibromyalgia, you may want to seek treatment to reduce the pain.
Usually, basic, over-the-counter painkillers can help treat the pain from the condition. If the pain is especially bad, a doctor may be able to prescribe something stronger.
In addition, birth control medication can help manage the hormonal cycle that causes the breasts to swell.
Doctors can also help resolve this problem by lancing the cysts with a very fine needle, allowing the fluid inside to drain out. In rare cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the cysts. But this is usually only necessary with repeated cysts that can’t be managed by draining.
The good news is that with good treatment and management, fibrocystic breasts don’t have to seriously impact your quality of life.