Let’s Talk about Breasts

Ok, I’ll be honest I couldn’t think of a more appropriate title for this blog. But it is ultimately about breast and BJJ. In particular my own recent experiences with breast pain.

o-BREAST-CANCER-570Before I get to the specific details of my own experience lets start at the beginning. The most important thing is to be breast aware and to make sure that you check and take care of your breasts on a regular basis.

As part of my own self-checking, I noticed that I had a regular sore spot that didn’t like to be prodded or touched. I couldn’t recall an injury or anything specific like that so I gave it a couple of months (partly due to Xmas and partly to see if it was linked to my own cycle) and it didn’t go away.

Next stop was the GP (which wasn’t really useful other than getting me a referral to the hospital). Fast forward a week or so and I was at the breast clinic at the hospital. Follow meeting with a couple of specialists, two exams (physical and ultrasound) and some lovely nurses I was discharged as healthy. But with some general guidance and a diagnostic of non-cyclic mastalgia (none hormone related pain).

The exact cause of non-cyclic mastalgia isn’t really known as it’s not triggered by hormone changes. It’s more common in women in their 40s and 50s and often a cause isn’t always found.  However, some of the causes include the possibility that its caused by an infection or cyst (which is why it is always important to get checked out). It can also be caused by a reaction to medication.

The final most BJJ related causes is an injury either to the chest wall (think ribs and intercostals) but its also possible with neck, shoulder and back injuries.

In terms of treatment options, there is a mixture of approaches that you can take but there is an element of trial and error with these –

For pain release, you can apply anti-inflammatory gels or creams to the sore area (ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice). I personally used an ibuprofen gel that was helpful. I also tried utilising CBD oil but I’ll be honest as I was trying it at the time as ibuprofen I am not sure which had the greatest impact. From a non-medicated perspective, I found using heat treatment (a warm compress or having a hot bath) useful. There is advice regarding using an ice pack as well but that really wasn’t pleasant or helpful for me.

Diet is another area that can have impact suggestions include –

  • cutting down on caffeine (coffee, tea, cola, chocolate and energy drinks)
  • eating a low-fat diet
  • increasing the amount of fibre you eat

As a grappler, I don’t think my diet is that bad but I did make a conscious effort to reduce my caffeine intake and left out a couple of morning coffees a week and my lunchtime diet cokes. I was one of the few non-medicinal things I could try!

This was combined with adding some new supplements to my diet. In particular, taking Evening Primrose Oil (but please don’t do this if you have epilepsy) and taking B group vitamins (check with your doctor or pharmacist about dosage). I did add Evening Primrose Oil to my diet (as I already took a multivitamin containing vitamin B). I think that of all the things I tried this did have an impact on my symptoms. I took it until a couple of weeks after my pain subsided and plan to try it again if I have future problems.

Last but not least wearing a supportive, well-fitting bra both in terms of treatment and managing systems. Sports bras are something I find quite frustrating. As a grappler, I don’t necessarily want a padded bra and a lot of the crop tops on the market really don’t make me feel secure whilst rolling. My personal choice is Shock Absorber Bras. These are quite expensive but are very comfortable – if you are willing to wear random colours these are often on sale on sites such as ASOS and Amazon.

I hope my blog provides you with some self-care insight if like me you started randomly googling wondering if you had something wrong with you or just got squished by someone heavier than you! But more importantly, I hope you remember my message right back at the beginning. Breast Pain can happen for a variety of reasons and most of them nothing to worry about.

It is important for women to be breast-aware and check themselves regularly and if you have any doubts, changes or conditions that aren’t improving please get checked out!

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