Is it just me, or would periods be a lot more pleasant if you didn’t have to worry about anything besides what’s going on below your waistline? Don’t get me wrong — period cramps can be horrific (and I certainly know from experience), but I’m starting to think that that time of the month could be a lot less of a hassle if other parts of the female body simply stayed out of it. For example, why do my boobs get bigger on my period, and why do they have to hurt so badly for that one week of bloody misery? Yes, I understand your menstrual cycle is a sign your body can bear children, and yes, I also understand your breasts are involved with that whole process, too, but that still doesn’t mean I want to deal with going up an entire cup size every month for the next three decades.
Here’s the thing: I've always been an early bloomer. At 10 years old, I was filling out training bras, and about a month or so before I turned 12, I got my period for the first time, so to say that I’m familiar with the way my body ebbs and flows during its menstrual cycle would be an understatement. Some women are proud of their girls and have no reservations when it comes to flaunting them. I, on the other hand, do. So when my menstrual cycle started to change as I got older, and one of the PMS symptoms I’d never experienced before — aka bigger boobs — started happening, not only did I have zero clue as to why this was happening, I didn’t exactly know what to do about it, either. Dealing with soreness was one thing; going up an entire bra size was another.
If your boobs grow during your period, too, you can thank your fluctuating hormones for the sudden change.
Honestly, I had a hunch the culprit behind my period boobs was going to be my hormones (isn’t it always?), but to be more specific, Christine Greves, MD, an OBGYN at Orlando Health Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies, says your breast size during PMS boils down to your estrogen and progesterone levels. See, your breasts actually go through a lot of subtle changes throughout your whole menstrual cycle, but right after ovulation, when PMS kicks into high gear, Greves tells Elite Daily, “levels of estrogen and progesterone are elevated,” causing more noticeable changes in the breast tissue. When progesterone is high, she says, the connective tissue in the breasts swell, while a peak in estrogen “increases the size of the breast ducts.” Put them together, and you’ve got a whole lot of swelling and growth, all of which leads to breasts that appear larger, and that might feel a little (or a lot) swollen.
So it’s not a bunch of hocus-pocus, and your boobs aren’t growing once a month just to frustrate you; it’s all part of the beauty that is the female body. But if all of that is true, then why do some women struggle to stuff their excessive boobage into sports bras to keep their girls on lock for a few days, while others see no signs of growth, or feel any sort of discomfort?
Unfortunately, the only answer experts can offer is that every menstrual cycle is 100 percent individual and unique, as are the symptoms that accompany a given cycle. But the upside is, having bigger boobs on your period is natural, and pretty common, too. In an exclusive interview with Elite Daily, Drs. Hedieh Asadi and Gunvor Ekman-Ordeberg, of DeoDoc Intimate Skincare, explain that 30 percent of women experience moderate PMS symptoms. Of those who do, Christine Greves adds, about half will experience swollen, uncomfortable breasts.
So now that you know why your boobs get so big (and sore) on your period, how can you cope with the growth?
If there’s any comfort I can offer you here, it’s this: According to U by Kotex expert Michelle Petropoulos, once your period actually starts, the swelling in your breasts should start to go down. In any case, you should absolutely reach out to your doctor if you haven’t done so already, and just give them a heads up on what’s happening with your boobs during your period. That way, you can get advice from someone familiar with your individual body and health issues, and you can then have a conversation about any treatments (including different forms of birth control) that may help ease your symptoms.
As far as medicine goes, Drs. Asadi and Ekman-Ordeberg suggest over-the-counter painkillers to soothe the soreness. But, if you’d prefer to go the all-natural route, there are plenty of holistic ways to treat your boobs to a little extra TLC when Aunt Flo comes to town, starting with your lingerie. I know myself, and I have a few designated period bras that I only wear when I’m on my cycle. When it’s your time of the month, get sized and invest in a bra that’s larger than your usual fit, and I promise you will feel that much more comfortable, not to mention supported. Plus, Asadi and Ekman-Ordeberg tell Elite Daily, a softer bra, or a bigger/more loose sports bra, might feel better sheerly because it's less restrictive for your chest.
Moreover, if you collect essential oils like it's your job, keep a vial of evening primrose handy the next time you’re expecting your period. Greves tells Elite Daily that some women find massaging evening primrose into their breasts, or even taking evening primrose vitamins, can help ease the pain. This is because, according to the UK charity organization Breast Cancer Care, evening primrose contains low levels of a fatty acid called gamolenic acid, which might work from the inside out to help your body feel better. Or, if you really want to take things old-school, you could even ice your breasts to reduce the swelling.
Bigger boobs are a blessing and a curse, especially when they only come around once a month in tandem with swelling, soreness, cramps, and, you know, bleeding from your vagina and all. The good news is that this sudden growth spurt is all-natural, and better yet, temporary. Try some of these tips to ease the pain, and take comfort in knowing that, a week from now, your boobs will be back to normal.