Doing a breast self-examination is more than just for detecting abnormalities. It is a good idea to do these so you know the normal feel and look of your breasts. That way if there was a change, you would be able to quickly identify what it is. Early detection of any problems is extremely important. Twenty-five percent of women in a study found breast abnormalities in their own self-examination. Do not underestimate the importance of knowing your body. Here’s how to properly perform a breast self-examination.
Steps of a Breast Self-Examination
Monthly breast self-exams are important for women of any age. Depending on your age and stage of life may change when you give yourself an exam.
Menstruating affects your hormones and causes your breasts to change throughout the month. So, it is a good idea to choose a specific time of your cycle each month to conduct these exams. A few days after your period is best since your breasts are least likely to be swollen and tender from the changing hormones.
If you no longer menstruate or your periods are irregular, you will want to choose a specific day of the month on which to do your exams.
It is also important to note that all women’s breasts are different. Some women have fibrocystic breasts which cause them to feel lumpier. If you have questions about the texture of your breasts talk to your doctor.
To begin your visual examination you will need a mirror. As you stand in front of the mirror, inspect your breasts with your hands at your side and then raise your arms above your head. In each of these positions, look for any lumps, dimpling, or puckering. Look for changes in your nipples (such as suddenly turning inward). You also want to make sure that there is no change in the normal color of your breasts. Next, put your hands on your hips and flex your chest muscles. Once again, look for any of these changes.
A thorough breast examination includes an exam while standing up and lying down. Find a comfortable place to lie down and place your left arm behind your head. Using the three middle fingers of your right hand, feel your left breast. Moving from the top of your breast to the bottom, move your fingers in a small circular motion. This allows you to feel any abnormal and hard lumps in your breast tissue. Apply light pressure to check the surface level of breast tissue, but then use a firm pressure to be able to feel the deeper tissue near the center of your chest and ribcage. After completing this, switch sides and repeat with your opposite hand and breast.
Don’t forget to check the entirety of each breast and to examine your underarm area as well. After concluding this, check your areola and nipples. Gently squeeze on your nipple and look for any signs of discharge.
If you do find a lump, don’t panic. Lumps sometimes appear at different parts of the menstrual cycle and may not be a reason for concern. As you grow older, your breasts will change in size and appearance.
When to Consult Your Doctor
If at any time you are concerned about a change in your breasts, that is a good time to set up an appointment with your doctor. Here are some reasons to give your doctor a call:
- A hard lump in your breast or armpit area
- A sudden change in your nipple shape (becoming inverted)
- Change in the appearance of your breasts
- Bulging, puckering, or dimpling in your skin
- Sores or rashes on the breasts
- Bloody or strange discharge from the nipples
- Swelling in the breast
Your health practitioner will help you figure out what steps need to be taken to help figure out what is going on. They may recommend a mammogram or ultrasound to get a clear picture of the inside of your breasts. A monthly self-exam may truly be a lifesaver!
Telehealth appointments, like those offered by UBERDOC, allow you to discuss your symptoms and receive a recommended course of action. Consulting with a telehealth doctor may help you determine the severity of your symptoms. We offer both in-person and telemedicine appointments, so you can always get the help you need. If you’re concerned about your health, don’t wait for it to get worse. Schedule an appointment with a UBERDOC today and get the help and treatment you deserve!