Fibrocystic breasts


Fibrocystic breasts refer to changes in breast tissue that can vary in intensity throughout the menstrual cycle. These changes often result in the formation of lumps or thickened areas in the breast tissue, which can feel like ropes under the skin. It’s important to note that fibrocystic breasts are not a disease, but rather a common condition also known as “fibrocystic breast changes.”

Having a nodular or glandular breast tissue or fibrocystic breast changes are normal and are not associated with any disease or health condition. In most cases, there are no symptoms. However, some may feel most uncomfortable soon before menstruation due to breast soreness, tenderness, and lumpiness particularly in the upper, outer portion of the breasts. Simple self-care practices can often alleviate the discomfort. Breast symptoms typically improve after menstruation.


Fibrocystic breast changes are most common between the ages of 30 and 50. Symptoms can worsen at the age of 30, and then intensify again after the age of 35. The condition is extremely unusual among women who have reached menopause and are not receiving hormonal replacement therapy. Common signs and symptoms include:

  • Breast pain or soreness, which may worsen soon before the period begins.
  • Breast nodules or lumpy tissue grow and shrink during the menstrual cycle.
  • Breast lumps or thickening that mix in with the surrounding breast tissue.
  • Green or dark brown discharge from the nipple that leaks without pressure or squeezing.
  • The same changes in both breasts.

If any of the symptoms of fibrocystic breast changes persist even after menstruation, consult a healthcare provider immediately. Any changes in the breast tissue should be reported to a healthcare provider to rule out any serious problems. They will first determine whether the tumor is malignant or benign.

It is important to seek prompt medical attention if there is a persistent or worsening pain in specific areas of the breast, the appearance of a new or persistent breast lump, or if there is a noticeable thickening or stiffness in the breast tissue. These symptoms may require immediate medical consultation.


Fibrocystic breast changes are believed to be caused by fluctuating hormone levels, particularly estrogen, during the menstrual period. However, the exact cause of this condition is still unknown.

Under a microscope, fibrocystic breast tissue contains diverse components such as:

  • Fluid-filled round or oval sacs (cysts)
  • Fibrosis, an outgrowth of scar-like fibrous tissue
  • Adenosis or breast lobule enlargement
  • Hyperplasia of cells lining the milk ducts or milk-producing organs (lobules) of the breast

Fibrocystic breast changes are more unpleasant before the monthly cycle and less bothersome when it begins. During the menstrual cycle, fluctuating hormone levels can produce breast soreness and lumpy breast tissue that feels tender, sore, and swollen.