Tender breasts can signal periods and pregnancy. And then there's the other P: perimenopause.
Hormone changes can cause water retention, as anyone with a case of period bloat who can't fit into her favorite jeans can attest. Your breasts can retain fluid, too, swelling the tissue and making them feel heavy and sore.
Breast pain, also known as mastalgia, is a very common complaint among women, perimenopausal or no. While most people agree that cyclic breast pain is hormone-related, one interesting theory posits a fatty acid imbalance in breast tissue cells is to blame [source: Smith].
To reduce your discomfort, you can try cutting your caffeine and fat intake, popping some pain relievers and applying a cold or hot compress. It may help to wear a sports bra during the day or while sleeping for extra support. Some women swear by evening primrose and vitamin E capsules, but make sure you talk to a health care provider before adding them to your daily routine -- supplements can have dangerous interactions with other medications you're on.
On the next page is a symptom that's often a secret.