Many women find a simple do-it-yourself breast exam to be a challenge—step into the shower and start the exam…but wait. What’s that? Is that a lump? Yes, and for women with fibrocystic breasts it can feel like many lumps all combining together into a field of uncertainty.

According to the University of Wisconsin School of Public Health, nearly 80% of women between the ages of 30-55 will have at least some of the symptoms of fibrocystic breasts at some point in their life, including:

  • Pain
  • Soreness
  • Nipple discharge or drainage
  • Swelling
  • A generally lumpy feeling of the breast

For many women these symptoms are most noticeable in the week before your period starts (thank you hormones for another PMS side effect)and for other women it’s most noticeable as you enter menopause.

While it’s normal for the breast to feel “pebbly” or “gritty”, fibrocystic breast tissue allows fluid-filled sacs to feel more smooth, round, tender and mobile—meaning they move around a bit when you press on them.

As with any change in your breasts, please notify Dr. Hessel for an exam. This way you will know exactly what’s going on and if it’s anything to worry about or not. It also gives you a good starting point for what’s normal and what isn’t so if a new lump develops, you’ll find it right away.

Changes to notify your doctor about include:

  • Changes in skin color or texture, or new dimples or puckers
  • Changes in how the nipple looks
  • A sudden increase in the size of one breast
  • A lump that does not feel like the rest of your breast tissue and gets bigger over time

The Good News

Finding a lump in your breast is scary, but there’s good news! Research has shown that women with fibrocystic breast tissue don’t have an increased risk for breast cancer.  And while breast cancer is the #1 cancer in women, you can help improve your breast health by making healthy lifestyle choices, controlling your weight and taking supplements.  Talk with your doctor before beginning any supplement or vitamin regimens, but women with fibrocystic breasts may benefit from Vitamin E and B-complex as well as supportive measures like heat or anti-inflammatory medications (ibuprofen, acetaminophen) during their worst symptoms.

Not sure what your lump is?  Don’t be afraid—take charge of your health and see Dr. Hessel today for private, professional care.