Q: Could tender breasts and sore and hard nipples mean that I am pregnant?

    A: Many women normally experience sore and hard nipples as well as breast tenderness and discharge after ovulation and think it is a sign of early pregnancy. Breast tenderness after ovulation is usually due to hormonal changes such as the increase in the hormone progesterone, which is produced by the corpus luteum (the area in the ovary where the egg originated). Not every woman who ovulates has this kind of breast tenderness nor does every woman experience discharge as a sign of early pregnancy, and even women who do not ovulate can have tender breasts. Pregnancy can certainly induce tender breasts, but this is usually not the very first sign of pregnancy. In addition, if the tenderness is indeed a result of being pregnant, it typically appears later on, after you miss your period and have a positive pregnancy test.

    Common Causes

    • Progesterone changes after ovulation
    • Menstruation
    • Pregnancy: Breast tenderness is often among the first symptoms of pregnancy, but as a sign of pregnancy it usually would not occur until after you miss your period
    • Puberty: in both girls and boys
    • Breastfeeding
    • Approach of menopause (once your menstrual periods have stopped completely, breast tenderness often goes away unless you are taking hormone replacement therapy)
      Intake of caffeine supposedly increases this sensation.

    When To Call Your Doctor

    • If you have given birth recently and your breasts are swollen or hard as postpartum breast tenderness could mean that there is an infection, and only an examination can find out what is going on.
    • If you notice a new lump associated with the pain that does not go away after your menstrual period
    • Experience persistent, unexplained breast pain
    • See discharge from your nipples, especially blood or pus
    • Have signs of a breast infection, including localized redness, pus, or fever