Treatments for Fibrocystic Breast Disease

How to Stop the Ache

Evening primrose oil capsules and flowers
 Creativ Studio Heinemann/Getty Images

Achey breasts bugging you? You could have fibrocystic breast disease, a common and harmless condition that affects up to half of women at some point in their life. Here's what to know about fibrocystic breasts and how to beat the pain.

Diagnosing Fibrocystic Breast Disease

Fibrocystic breast disease is a way to describe breasts that are painful and/or lumpy.

It's usually diagnosed after an ultrasound or mammogram rules out breast cancer. While no one knows the exact cause of the condition, experts suspect that hormones made in the ovaries make some women's breasts feel swollen, lumpy or painful during parts of their menstrual cycle each month. Because it is so benign, many in the healthcare field don't even call it fibrocystic breast "disease" anymore, and simply say that you have fibrocystic breasts.


While fibrocystic breasts won't cause any health side effects, the nagging pain often associated with the condition can interfere with your quality of life. If it does, there are some simple treatments you can consider. Here are a couple traditional medical approaches:

  • Over the counter (OTC) pain relievers
  • Surgical removal of lumps. In severe cases, cysts that cause extreme pain can be removed or drained.

More common than drug treatment or surgery is a holistic, alternative approach to treating the pain.

One of the most common suggestions is eliminating caffeine from your diet. Evidence is mostly anecdotal, but caffeine is believed by some to be involved in fibrocystic breast changes. A trial period of restricting coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks, and other caffeine is helpful for some women.

Another common suggestion is supplementing with evening primrose oil.

It contains gamma-linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid that may make breast tissues less sensitive to hormonal changes.

Doctors also sometimes suggest the following:

  • Reduce sodium in your diet.
  • Try a low-fat diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and grains.
  • Decrease dietary and pharmaceutical sources of estrogen.
  • Supplement with evening primrose oil, which studies have linked to a reduction in the pain associated with fibrocystic breasts.
  • Supplement with Vitamin E, B6, a B Complex Vitamin, and Magnesium.
  • Apply heat. A warm compress can help reduce pressure and swelling, helping to eliminate pain. If you don't own a heating pad, that's OK. Follow these tips for making your own heating pad.
  • Wear a well-fitted bra that provides good support.


"Fibrocystic Breasts." Alternative Medicine. Mayo Clinic, 8 Mar. 2013.