Asking for a Friend…

We tackle your most embarrassing questions. First up: Lumpy breasts and movie theater potty breaks.

4 min read

Welcome to Asking for a Friend…, a series where we take on your awkward medical questions. Nothing is too embarrassing or off limits. 

Got something you want to, ahem, “ask for a friend”? Send us an email at All questions will remain completely anonymous.

When I’m on my period, my breasts get sore and lumpy. Ow! Why is this happening to me?

The good news is that you’re probably okay. For people who menstruate, breasts retain extra fluid during that time of the month. This can cause a lumpy sensation, as well as tenderness. Those who are on birth control might also experience this feeling because of the hormonal changes.

However, this question highlights the importance for regular self-examinations. The National Breast Cancer Foundation has a complete guide on how to perform breast exams easily at home. Doing this throughout different times of the month can get you familiar with what’s normal (and not) for your body. 

In some rare cases, breast tenderness can be an indication of inflammatory breast cancer, particularly if you only feel that lumpy, ouchie feeling on one side and if you’ve never experienced it before. If you feel any solid or unusual lumps, if this level of breast tenderness is new to you, or if you’re experiencing discharge or a rash along with that discomfort, consult your doctor. And consider including mammograms as part of your regular, preventative health routine, especially if you’re over the age of 40. Mammograms are easy tests to schedule — try booking a mammogram through LabFinder.

A quick fix for normal breast tenderness? Make sure your bras fit, as ill fitting bras can worsen pain. Talk to your doctor about switching birth control methods, if you think high estrogen birth control may be to blame. You can also try a warm compress to ease the discomfort — think of it like a spa treatment for your boobs.

I have a “friend” who can’t sit through a movie without going to the bathroom once, twice, even three times. This “friend’s” wife is very annoyed and won’t let this “friend” have popcorn or soda because, “You’ll just have to pee a million times, Jeff.” Why is this happening? And how can my “friend” convince his wife to let him have movie treats?

Sorry to say it, but your wife is right. Salty snacks like popcorn increase thirst and drinking sodas, especially those with caffeine, can prompt the need to pee. Luckily, there’s some things you can do to curb your bathroom breaks.

First, if incontinence is new to you, consult your doctor. With age, bladder muscles weaken, which can lead to the need to pee. But you may also be experiencing an overactive bladder, side effects from medication, symptoms of an enlarged prostate, or other issues.

If medical complications have been ruled out, there are a few things to consider trying. First, Kegel exercises or Pilates can boost pelvic floor muscles and core strength, which can improve your bladder strength. Cutting down on alcohol helps, as alcohol is a diuretic. And avoid spicy or acidic foods, which can also irritate the bladder.

Depending on how determined you are to snack while watching the latest blockbuster, think of how you can make small changes at the concession stand. Limit the amount of salty food you consume so you’re not quite as thirsty. Because caffeine and soda can irritate your bladder, consider switching to another beverage. And try to hold off on drinking until partway into the movie. Downing your drink before the movie has started is a surefire way to prompt a bathroom trip.

And don’t be afraid to pee during the trailers. You might miss previews of the next Oscar-winning film, but you’ll be more likely to hold your bladder throughout the movie you’re there to enjoy. And if you really need to go?

Pro tip: Try services like RunPee, which tell you the best moments to pee during a film so that you don’t miss critical scenes and can cause the least disturbance to your fellow movie goers.

Ask a question “for a friend” by emailing us at All questions will remain anonymous.