How to Give Yourself a Self Breast Exam

 

One of the most important thing a woman can do each month is perform a self breast exam.  Did you know women by the age of 20 should be doing this every month?  The most staggering statistic is 40% of breast cancers are found by women performing self breast exams.  It can save your life and the life of a loved one.  Today, I'm going to talk about the different ways you have give yourself a self breast exam and some really good tips.

I did a Facebook Live about this topic, go here to watch it.

FYI, breast exams should be performed in the shower, in front of the mirror, and lying down.

1. Know your bosoms

Women need to become familiar with their breasts and how they look and feel to help identify any changes to them like an irregular shape, dimpling of the skin, rash, and nipple discharge.

2. Lie Down

One of the best ways to check your breasts is by lying down.  Lying down kind of simulates a mammogram.  The reason why mammograms flatten the breasts is because it's a lot easier to detect any lumps, knots, or thickening in the breasts.  

When you lie down, put your left arm behind your head.  Use the right hand to examine your breast by moving in a circular motion starting at your nipple and work your way out.  Repeat on the other side.  You want to make sure you check the entire breast from your collarbone to your ribs on both sides.

3. In Front of the Mirror

You want to check your breasts in front of a mirror to check for any visible changes.  While looking at your bosoms in front of the mirror, place your hands on your hips, and look for lumps, new differences in size, shape, swelling, redness, rash, or dimpling of skin.  Make sure to check for lumps in your armpit area where your lymph nodes are.  This is a common place where cancer can start.

4. Nip Squeeze

And lastly, you want to check your nipples.  To do this squeeze each nipple gently to see if any fluid or discharge comes out.   

Here are some common misconceptions about breast exams

  • The difference between a clinical breast exam and a self breast exam is a clinical breast exam is performed by a healthcare professional, and a self breast exam is done by a woman by herself.  Both are very important in the prevention of breast cancer.
  • Some lumps can't be detected and that's why it's so important to get yearly mammograms because mammograms can detect tumors before they can be felt or turn cancerous.  
  • Lumps that appear to be soft, smooth, round, and moveable are likely to be benign tumors or cysts.  
  • Lumos that are hard, oddly shaped, and feels firmly attached within the breast is likely to be cancer.
  • 8 out of 10 lumps are not cancerous. This is a sigh of relief for many women, but it's still very important to see your doctor if you notice any changes.  

I hope this debunks the mystery behind breast exams.  Their so important, and many women think because their young, they don't need to worry about performing them.  It's a smart and healthy way to start young so it becomes habit.  I'd love to hear your stories of your breast exams and what you've learned from your experience by receiving breast exams or performing your own breast exams.