Breast Conditions in Young Women
You may have many changes in your breasts as a teen and young adult. Some changes
are linked to your period. Others are linked to birth control pills, or to other hormonal
forms of birth control. In some cases, changes may happen at any time for no clear
reason. Most breast conditions are not cancer. These are called noncancer, or benign
conditions. But it is important for you to know about correct breast health. This
will help you to find any problems. Some of the breast conditions you may have include
cyclical breast pain, cysts, fibroadenomas, and fibrocystic breast changes.
Cyclical breast pain
The most common type of breast pain is linked to your menstrual cycle. This is called
cyclical breast pain. It is nearly always hormonal. You may have pain around the time
that you ovulate. This pain may last until your period starts. The pain may be very
minor. Or it may be so severe that you can't wear tight-fitting clothes or have close
contact of any kind. The pain may be felt in only one breast. Or it may be spread
over the whole underarm area.
It may be helpful for you to chart your breast pain. This will help you see if your
pain is cyclical or not. After a few months, you will be able to see if there is any
link between your menstrual cycle and your breast pain.
Hormones would likely affect both breasts equally. But cyclical breast pain is often
more severe in one breast than the other. For this reason, hormones may not be the
only cause. Many health experts believe that the pain is due to both hormonal activity
and something in the breast that responds to this activity. More research is needed.
A cyst is a fluid-filled sac that develops in the breast tissue. Cysts often get bigger
and become sore and painful just before your period. They may seem to appear overnight.
They are the most common reason for breast lumps in teens. In most cases, cysts are
benign. It is rare that they are cancer. They may be caused by a blocked breast gland.
Cysts can feel either soft or hard. A cyst that is close to the surface of your breast
can feel like a large blister. It may be smooth on the outside, but fluid-filled on
the inside. When a cyst is deep in your breast tissue, it will feel like a hard lump.
This is because it is covered with tissue.
Fibroadenomas are solid, smooth, firm, benign lumps. They are most often found in
women in their late teens and early twenties. But they can occur in women of any age.
They are the second most common type of benign lump in women.
Fibroadenomas occur twice as often in African-American women as in other women. The
painless lump feels rubbery and moves around freely. It very often is found by the
woman herself. These lumps vary in size. They can grow anywhere in your breast tissue.
In some cases, with very young women, the fibroadenoma is not removed. But these lumps
may grow larger with pregnancy and breastfeeding. For this reason, your healthcare
provider may recommend having surgery to remove a fibroadenoma.
Fibrocystic breast changes
Fibrocystic breast changes are symptoms you may feel in your breasts right before
your period. Your breasts may feel lumpy, swollen, or sore. This is a very common
condition. It is not a disease, and it is not cancer. Changes in hormone levels during
your menstrual cycle affect your breasts. Your healthcare provider can rule out problems
and help ease your symptoms.
Women with lumpy breasts may have other benign breast conditions.
Breast lumpiness may make it harder to tell if you have actual lumps. Breast self-awareness
is key to caring for your breasts. If you have lumpy breasts, it is important to learn
what your breasts normally look and feel like. This will help you find any breast
changes more easily. If you notice any changes, report them to your healthcare provider
as soon as possible.