What is it?

Fibrocystic breasts are painful, lumpy breasts. Formerly called fibrocystic breast disease, this common condition is, in fact, not a disease. Many women experience these normal breast changes, usually around their period.

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Additional names

This group contains additional names:
- Fibrocystic breast changes

Signs & symptoms

Symptoms are more often worse right before your menstrual period. They tend to get better after your period starts.
If a woman has heavy, irregular periods, the symptoms may be worse. If a woman takes birth control pills, she may have fewer symptoms. In most cases, symptoms get better after menopause.
Symptoms may include:
* Pain or discomfort in both breasts that may come and go with your period, but may last through the whole month
* Breasts that feel full, swollen, or heavy
* Pain or discomfort under the arms
* Breast lumps that change in size with the menstrual period
* You may have a lump in the same area of the breast that becomes larger before each period and returns to its original size afterward. This type of lump moves when it is pushed with your fingers. It does not feel stuck or fixed to the tissue around it. This type of lump is common with fibrocystic breasts.

Diagnosis

The doctor will examine you. This will include a breast exam. Tell your provider if you have noticed any breast changes.
If you are over 40, ask your provider how often you should have a mammogram to screen for breast cancer. For women under 35, a breast ultrasound may be used to look more closely at breast tissue. You may need further tests if a lump was found during a breast exam or your mammogram result was abnormal.
If the lump appears to be a cyst, your provider may aspirate the lump with a needle, which confirms the lump was a cyst and sometimes may improve the symptoms. For other types of lumps, another mammogram and breast ultrasound may be done. If these exams are normal but your provider still has concerns about a lump, a biopsy may be performed.

Treatment

Women who have no symptoms or only mild symptoms do not need treatment.
The doctor may recommend the following self-care measures:
* Take over-the-counter medicine, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain
* Apply heat or ice on the breast
* Wear a well-fitting bra or a sports bra
* Some women believe that eating less fat, caffeine, or chocolate helps with their symptoms. There is no evidence that these measures help.

Vitamin E, thiamine, magnesium, and evening primrose oil are not harmful in most cases. Studies have not shown these to be helpful. Talk with your provider before taking any medicine or supplement.
For more severe symptoms, your provider may prescribe hormones, such as birth control pills or other medicine. Take the medicine exactly as instructed. Be sure to let your provider know if you have side effects from the medicine.
Surgery is never done to treat this condition. However, a lump that stays the same throughout your menstrual cycle is considered suspicious. In this case, your provider may recommend a core needle biopsy. In this test, a small amount of tissue is removed from the lump and examined under a microscope.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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