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    Unexplained Breast Growth
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    MsB1964 posted:
    Ok, this makes no sense to me. For my 47th birthday my breasts went from 36A to 34D in a month. They are tender like I'm on my period all the time. I am not pregnant. I've had the hormone level tests done and they all came back normal for a fertile young female. I have not significantly changed in weight, in fact have lost 3 pounds and am 64" tall and 141 lbs (military so there's a bit of muscle in those numbers), a size 6. No lumps etc. in the breasts or lymph nodes and growth seem equal on both sides..

    I'm told the hormone tests mean I'm NOT premenopausal. I did have a tubal ligation a month before this happened, if that means anything.

    Any ideas on what it could be?
     
    avatar
    Jane Harrison Hohner, RN, RNP responded:
    Dear MsB: Thanks for your service to your country. ...You mentioned that your hormone tests were normal for a young women. Given your age you are statistically likely to be in early perimenopause. The blood FSH levels can still be in the normal young women range, at the time of a single blood test. Yet studies by Nanette Santoro (and others) have clearly shown that during the late 40's a woman can actually have a higher than normal levels of estrogen (especially estrone). These higher levels are driven by spikes in FSH levels that come and go.

    It is interesting that your symptoms abruptly onset a month after a tubal ligation. Tubal ligations can impact blood flow to the ovaries (although there are still other sources of blood flow). It would make me wonder if the ovaries had some sort of transient "trauma" which caused the FSH feedback from the pituitary gland to ramp up. In perimenopause an increase in FSH can provoke an estrogen spike.

    Increased levels of estrogen can prompt marked breast tenderness, and some women do have size increases as well. I have seen this in both young women patients on estrogen dominant birth control pills and in perimenopausal women just starting hormone therapy.

    MsB, it is very important to rule out other breast problems as the cause of the enlargement and tenderness. If you have access to a breast surgeon or breast specialty clinic I would urge you to have them do an exam. They also have the clinical experience in less common causes of breast symptoms.

    Yours,
    Jane


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