How Your Menstrual Cycle Causes Armpit Pain


Clean beauty industry maven Mary Futher founded kaia naturals® after spending 20 years working for global beauty companies. Mary now shares her weekly column, delivering a quick fix, home remedy, or clean beauty product suggestion for a variety of human discomforts that some may find too embarrassing to discuss.

Do You Get Armpit Pain During Your Menstrual Cycle?

Simply because of the anatomy of the underarm area, the slightest armpit pain or sensitivity can cause our minds to wander to the most extreme scenarios. But before you panic, you should know that more often than not the pain you’re feeling in your armpits is benign, and is often an indication of muscle soreness, infection, or … your menstrual cycle. 


As if period pains aren’t enough, now we have to deal with our menstrual cycles causing ARMPIT PAIN?! Unfortunately, yes…

Armpit pain can easily occur before or during a womens’  menstrual cycle. This is because while many women experience breast tenderness just before or during their periods, this pain can actually radiate into the armpit. Why? Again, this ties back to the anatomy of the underarm, and the interconnectivity of the underarm and breast tissues. 


The skin found in your underarm area has several layers, and within these layers are hair follicles, sweat glands, fat, connective tissue, and more. The tissue connecting the underarm and breast is known as the axillary tail, and it can exist all the way up into the armpit area. 

As you begin your menstrual cycle, your breasts and the tissue surrounding the breasts begin to swell. Hence, the axillary tissue also begins to swell, resulting in increased sensitivity and tenderness (just like your breasts). This can also occur during pregnancy, and your skin tissues will undergo the same reaction.


We are all aware that hormones fluctuate before and during our menstrual cycles, and this too is related to both armpit pain and breast pain. In fact, your hormones are what call the shots when it comes to how painful and sensitive these areas become while on your period. 


Whenever there is any type of hormonal change in a woman’s body, the lymphatic system gets “turned on”. Now I don’t want to get too technical on you, but what happens is when your hormones change, your lymph nodes swell, and when your lymph nodes swell, the swollen area can become even more sensitive. This is often why some women experience extreme sensitivity in their breasts, while others experience mild sensitivity to none at all.


If your armpit pain is in fact another nasty side effect of your period, the good news is that it is short lived. However, the bad news is that there’s nothing you can really do  to treat it. The only thing you can do is minimize the discomfort, the same way you would with any other type of menstrual pain. For example, try going braless for a few days, or while you sleep, as restricting the area may increase pain in your breasts while on your menstrual cycle, and thus also increase the pain in your armpits. Also, many have found success with different relaxation techniques, such as lightly massaging the area!

That said, if your pain persists, does not only occur during menstruation, or if you have other symptoms, like swelling or the presence of a painful lump, you should see your doctor. If you see a rash or other signs of skin problems under your arm, then see a dermatologist. It might not hurt to see a doctor if the pain is a temporary problem either, as getting a medical diagnosis can also ease some anxiety.


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