Frequency of Mastalgia Among Women Veterans

Association with Psychiatric Conditions and Unexplained Pain Syndromes

Mastalgia (breast pain) is common at the start of the menstrual period, however, some women experience extended, noncyclic mastalgia. The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence and frequency of mastalgia and its relation with psychiatric conditions and various other pain syndromes. A mail survey was completed by 1,219 female veterans enrolled at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System in 1998. Breast pain in the past year was categorized as infrequent if it was experienced once a month or less, or frequent if it was experienced more often than monthly. Breast pain related to pregnancy was excluded from the analysis. The mail survey used validated screening tests to measure posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, panic disorder and alcohol misuse. Women also were asked to report whether they had experienced chronic pelvic pain, fibromyalgia or irritable bowel syndrome in the past year.

The study concluded that similar to other "unexplained" pain syndromes, mastalgia is associated with posttraumatic stress disorder and other psychiatric conditions.