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why are my boobs so sore

When it comes to your bust, there’s hardly a more uncomfortable issue than soreness. When your breasts feel especially sensitive or tender, even something as simple as putting on a bra or hugging someone can feel painful. So why does this happen, and what can you do about it?

Most women experience this feeling at one point or another in their lives. This feeling can result from a wide variety of different factors.

In this guide, we’ll delve into the different causes of breast soreness you need to know about.

1.  Your period

No, you’re not imagining things: Your boobs can definitely get sore in the week leading up to your period. When levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone start to increase during ovulation, your breasts tend to swell up, and may feel extra tender or sensitive. This tends to start a little before you get your period, and will end by the time (or shortly after) you start a new cycle. So period-related breast soreness should only last about a week at most.

2.  Chest exercise

Did you do an extra set of bench presses or pushups at the gym yesterday? There’s a good chance that chest workout is making your boobs feel sore. In this case, the pain isn’t actually in your breasts, but the pectoral muscles underneath them. Fortunately, this pain will pass once your muscles have time to recover. This is why it’s important to have a “rest day” — so if you feel pain that you suspect stems from your workout, take a couple days to give your pectoral muscles a break. And remember: soreness isn’t a bad thing — it means you’re making those muscles stronger!

3.  An allergic reaction

Particularly if you have sensitive skin, you may want to consider the possibility that your skincare products may be causing an allergic reaction that’s causing your soreness. Has this issue started since you begun using a new body lotion? Take a look at the ingredients on any products that you apply to your chest area to identify any potential irritants, and consider not using them for a week to see if the condition improves. Dr. Diana Ramos, MD, ob-gyn and co-chair of The National Preconception Health and Health Care Initiative told Reader’s Digest that other offenders can include sunscreen, laundry detergent, and even hair products (since they run down your chest in the shower).

4.  Pregnancy

It’s no secret that pregnancy can cause your breasts to get bigger. But did you know that it can also make your boobs feel more tender and sore? As with your period, hormones are the culprit here. When estrogen levels rise, the size of your milk ducts expand to get ready for milk production, which can result in breast sensitivity and sometimes even pain.

5.  An ill-fitting or poor quality bra

Here’s the thing about bras: They can make your life easier and more comfortable — but only if they’re made well and fit perfectly. A bra that’s too tight, too loose, or is made with poor quality materials (think abrasive fabrics or underwire that’s not well concealed) can cause some serious discomfort. This is why it’s crucial to make sure you know your accurate size and that you invest in quality bras.

When was the last time you got fitted by a professional? If it’s been six months or more and you’ve been experiencing some breast soreness or other pain, you may want to take a trip to your local department store or lingerie boutique to make sure your bra size hasn’t changed. It’s worth noting that this is especially critical if you exercise — sports bras are designed to minimize movement during physical activity, and if you’re experiencing soreness after your workouts, it may be because your bras aren’t lending enough support to prevent strain.


Any of the aforementioned factors can cause this pesky problem, and ultimately, breast soreness is not usually associated with serious health problems. That said, if it’s a persistent issue and you can’t seem to figure out the trigger, you may want to talk to your doctor about the underlying cause and rule out any concerns. One final tip: If you believe your breast soreness is a result of PMS, pregnancy, etc., you may want to swap out your more structured bras for something lightweight, like a bralette or other wire-free bra style, when you’re experiencing heightened soreness.

Related: Why Are My Breasts Getting Bigger?

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Happy bra shopping!

Featured image lingerie:
Charlotte Padded Bra 6901 in Bronze
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Published by

Rebecca Strong

Rebecca is a Boston-based freelance writer who focuses on style, fitness, food, and travel. She has contributed to such publications as HuffPost, Elite Daily and U.S. News & World Report. When she's not writing, she can be found at home or in the studio working on the songs for her upcoming album. Her favorite bra is a black demi-cup style with all-over-lace — timeless and feminine.

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