Here’s Why Your Breasts Can Feel Lumpy One Week & Sensitive the Next

Jun 17, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. ET
Image: Getty Images

The swelling, tenderness, aches and soreness: It’s all completely natural. The main cause of these changes can be attributed to the variance of the flow of hormones during a woman’s menstrual cycle. Here are the five main phases of breast inflation that your breasts go through over the course of a month.

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Phase 1: Breasts feel lumpy

During the first few days of your menstrual cycle or the premenstrual phase, the texture of your boobs may suddenly become rough and uneven. This lumpy texture is likely caused by the higher levels of the hormones progesterone and prolactin, which leads to the enlargement of milk glands as the breasts prepare for a possible pregnancy. Once the body determines a lack of pregnancy, the texture of the breasts will smooth out again.

Phase 2: Breasts are smaller and softer

As you near the end of menstruation, your boobs will seemingly shrink as the swelling in breast tissue goes down. According to Sara Gottfried, a gynecologist in Berkeley, California, “Breasts are at their lowest volume at this time because estrogen and progesterone are at their lowest.” During this phase, the breasts are not being altered by lots of hormones, so they also soften up.

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Phase 3: Breasts are super-perky

During the follicular phase, estrogen levels begin to rise, causing your breasts to look extra perky. Increased estrogen improves skin elasticity, leading to flattering results in the breast region.

Phase 4: Breasts are full and firm

Expect your breasts to be at their largest cup size during the luteal phase. They may even appear to be a bit more veiny or swollen than usual. In an interview with Health, Rebecca Booth, a gynecologist and hormonal expert, said, “Progesterone is really peaking, so this is a time associated with the largest breast size and density.”

Phase 5: Breasts are lopsided

According to a study in the journal Ethology and Sociobiology, when estrogen levels are low during Week 4 or the premenstrual week, breasts appear less symmetrical. But as soon as your period arrives, the sizes of your breasts should even out normally.

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How to curb breast changes

Avoid salt, caffeine and high-fat foods in the weeks leading up to your period. Be sure to wear a bra that fits you properly and doesn’t dig into your skin or irritate your breasts in any way. Try to fit in a daily cardio workout to keep you feeling happy and healthy.

By Shaye DiPasquale

Originally published on HelloFlo.

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