While self-care may be a relatively new concept over the last few decades, doctors have been promoting another kind of self-care for decades, self-breast exams. Regular annual physicals, mammograms, and ultrasound MRI’s (when needed) are ideal to screen for breast cancer or other issues, while regular self-exams are an excellent way to keep your health at the forefront of everything you do. If you are uninsured or have additional barriers keeping you from getting you annual mammogram, the CMC Foundation may be able to assist via our Mammography Initiative.
Simple steps to perform your breast self-exam
To begin, find a location where you can be comfortable and secure un-dressing. These steps should fit nicely into your shower routine.
Step one when performing a breast self- exam
Start by looking at your breasts in the mirror, with your shoulders straight and your hands on your hip. This is a great thing to do before or after your shower!
Are your breasts their usual size, shape, and color? Is there any swelling or distortion that is abnormal? Is there any unusual dimpling, puckering, or bulging of the skin? Are you experiencing any redness, soreness, or rash? Are you experiencing a discharge? Discharge could include watery, milky or yellowish discharge. If anything is out of the normal, you’ll want to bring it to your doctor’s attention for further testing or discussion. CMC Women’s Health offers quality, compassionate care in two convenient locations in Horry County.
Second Step when performing a breast-self exam
Next, raise your arms above your head and look for the same things. Again, contact your doctor immediately if you are experiencing any changes or discharge.
Third step when performing a breast-self exam
After you’ve noted the visual aspect of your self-exam, find a comfortable place to lay flat. Use your right hand to feel your left breast, and vice versa. Do you notice any abnormalities or lumps? Make sure you use a firm but smooth touch, keeping your fingers flat together.
Press down and move them in a circular motion (about an inch around). Do this across the entire breast from top to bottom and then side to side. You’ll want to do the same from your collarbone to the top of your abdomen and from your armpit to your cleavage. Be mindful of where you are touching so you don’t miss a spot.
Last step when performing a breast-self exam
Lastly, you’ll want to be vertical for this last part (the shower is a great place!). Feel your breasts using the same technique you did earlier in your exam.
How often should you perform a breast self-exam?
Make breast self-exam a part of your monthly routine. The more you get to know your breasts, the easier it can become to identify a change in them. It’s recommended your conduct your breast exam a few days after your period ends as they are less likely to be swollen and tender.
Self-care equals self-love
Use your monthly breast self-exam as a dedicated time to put yourself and your health first. Put on your favorite song and make it a self-care anthem as you get to know and appreciate just how special and unique you are! If you have questions about your breast health or are interested in scheduling your annual mammogram, visit our Breast Health Center to learn more.