Sore heavy boobs? Think of your lymph. 

Nobody needs sore boobs literally weighing them down all day every day. I know you have enough to worry about without having to categorise your bra collection according to their size and weight requirements across the month! Not to mention actually tracking down a bra that provides the heavy duty reinforcement needed to prevent even the slightest movement to your tatas. This may read as an exaggeration but for some women just wearing a bra can be agony when boobs are at their heaviest and most painful. Breast feeding is one thing, but for those who aren’t in that phase, swollen tender breasts are not normal. Common? Yes. Normal? No. Sore, heavy boobs is a sign (sometimes the size of a billboard) that something is out of whack.

So why do my boobs feel so sore?

It could be PMS related

Breast tissue is very sensitive to changes in hormone levels. If you notice that your breasts are only sore in the week or two leading up to your period, it is likely that the fluctuating hormones at this time are causing fluid retention and swelling to occur within your breast tissue. You might also notice fluid retention or weight gain around the belly at the same time, which can be confused with bloating. The same hormone changes that increase that fluid retention can also increase inflammation AND your sensitivity to pain. All this equals sore, heavy boobs somewhere on the spectrum from slight discomfort to the point where wearing a bra is agony and exercise is impossible.

You may have an iodine deficiency

Boobs hold a whole lot of iodine, with their requirement for this nutrient second only to the thyroid gland! Iodine helps to tone down the sensitivity of breast tissue to hormonal changes. For this reason, a lack of iodine can be a cause of chronic breast tenderness for some women. Breast pain that is not limited to the week or two before your period could also be related to iodine deficiency. It is essential that you seek guidance if you suspect iodine deficiency rather than self-prescribing, as too much iodine can cause problems as well! Your naturopath will help you to check your iodine levels and if necessary, can get you onto an appropriate dose.

High prolactin

Prolactin is another of our hormones that acts on the tatas. Too much prolactin can cause sore, tender breasts in menstruating women and is an easy one to pick up on blood testing. Prolactin stimulates lactation and so if you notice that you are producing breastmilk (and you aren’t pregnant or breastfeeding) and your breasts are heavy and sore, it might be worthwhile checking in on your levels.

Lymph congestion in the breasts

Boobs are mostly made up of fat and muscle, with a busy network of lymphatic tissue dispersed throughout. This lymphatic tissue is made up of lymphatic vessels that are connected to lymph nodes, where lymph filters through and drains into the larger lymphatic ducts in the chest. From here, lymph fluid makes its way to the liver, carrying toxins and wastes from the tissues to the liver for detoxification. There are some thirty lymph nodes in and around the breasts, chest and armpits which gives an indication of just how concentrated the lymph is in this area. 

So call it a sewerage system, call it a road network, call it what you like, but the important thing to know is that lymph won’t move on its own!

Unlike blood, lymph doesn’t have a heart to pump it around. The lymph is squeezed along through its vessels when pressure is applied by the surrounding muscles. This makes any type of movement helpful for lymphatic drainage and luckily it doesn’t need to be high intensity in order to be effective! If lymph isn’t being moved, it can accumulate and cause swelling in the breasts. It certainly does not help the pooling effect when gravity is already having its way with your boobs!

Women who have had lymph nodes and other tissue removed surgically due to breast cancer are at higher risk of lymphoedema in the arms, simply due to an overabundance of lymph and too few lymph nodes to keep up with drainage. 

Signs that your lymph is congested and in need of some drainage:

  • Swollen, heavy breasts
  • Swelling around ankles and feet
  • Tender lymph nodes and glands
  • Excess, odorous sweat
  • Skin problems like eczema and acne
  • Fluctuating weight
  • Puffy eyes and face
  • Tonsillitis or sinusitis
  • Cellulite
  • Congested pores
  • Headaches & fatigue

If you mentally ticked your way through that list, then BooB camp is for you! In BooB camp you will learn how to support your lymph alongside like-minded women who want the best for their breasts.  

Put simply, sluggish lymph can be a pain in the breast (pun intended). Breast massage is one way to help unlock the lymph tissue in your boobs and get the swelling down. Learn more about breast massage here.