As women, examining our breasts on a monthly basis has so many benefits. Not only are we familiarizing ourselves with our bodies, but this is a simple process that can go a long way regarding our long-term health. A self breast exam can be a life saving task when done correctly.
Although there’s no guarantee that a single breast exam can prevent breast cancer early, performing regular exams can help extremely in detecting symptoms earlier on. The great thing about breast exams is that you don’t need to schedule an appointment with your gynecologist, you can simply perform one in the comfort of your home.
When should I do a self breast exam?
While you can do a breast self-exam at any time, it’s highly recommended to do an examination a few days after your period. This is the perfect time because your breasts are the least tender to better look for changes or symptoms. If you’re one that doesn’t get a period, still continue to do a breast check. Consider examinations monthly on a specific day or week.
In addition to your breast checks, you can also take notes on your period tracker apps or in a journal.
Feel free to take notes of your observations or changes, and take your concerns to your gynecologist or doctors for further examinations.
How to do a self breast exam?
Start your breast self-exam, shirtless in front of a mirror. Look at your breast straight on, and look for any changes in size, shape, texture, or symmetry. Observe your nipples, as well. Lift your arms over your head, hands together, and take a look at them this way to see symmetry a lot better.
Next, you will need to check your breasts manually. We recommend doing your manual check laying down flat on your back or in the shower. If you choose to do the check laying down, this allows your breasts to flatten making the exam easier to feel when your breasts are thinner.
Doing an exam in the shower can help your hand glide smoother with soap and lather making it easier to feel more in your breasts.
To start your manual breast exam, place your left hand behind your head and start using your finger pads to feel out your entire left breast from the collarbone to the nipple. Switch to the other breast. Feel free to use different pressure levels at certain areas if needed. Remember, don’t rush through this and be mindful with each area you feel out.
What should I look for?
Look out for hard lumps and changes in shapes or textures. You should also look for puckers, ridges, or dimples. Rashes, swelling, soreness and redness are also huge factors to look for. When you come to check your nipples, notice any discharge or any inversions.
If you notice any of these changes or symptoms, contact your physician right away for a professional checkup or mammogram.
Sarah Nelson is a nurse with 15 years of experience working with a variety of patients. She has a Masters of Science in Nursing and has spent a large portion of her career working exclusively with women in an OB/GYN setting.
Nursing is a passion for Sarah but she also enjoys writing and sharing her expertise online with people who need helpful information. Treating patients well and helping them learn more about their own bodies is a key essential to a healthy lifestyle that Sarah truly believes in.