Women of different ages, from different countries and backgrounds, and with different levels of health should regularly perform breast self-examination on themselves regularly, i.e. every month. These breast exams are not difficult to do at all – they wouldn’t take more than 15 minutes a month, and all you would need are privacy, a pillow for your head when lying down, and a mirror to allow you to take a good look at both breasts.
But when is the best time to conduct breast self-exams?
Make a regular date for it. If you’re pre-menopausal, set a regular time to check your breasts a number of days after your monthly period ends. By then your hormone levels are relatively stable, and your breasts are less tender. If you’re menopausal, you just have to pick a specific day of the month to perform the self-test on your breasts.
Here are some breast self-exams you can do.
- Stand and stroke. The first step is to raise your left arm overhead. Next, use your right-hand fingers to apply gentle pressure to your left breast. Stroke from top to the bottom; move across from the inside of your breast all the way to your armpit. It may be help to employ a circular motion, too. Look out for any change in size, color, or texture. Proceed to the other breast and repeat the steps.
- Recline and stroke. Go to your bed and lie down. Put a pillow on your bed for you to lie with both your head and shoulders. After lying down, put your left hand behind your head. Use your right hand to stroke your breast and underarm. Note any change in size, color, or texture, and then go to the other breast and repeat the steps.
- Hands on your hips. Strip to your waist in your bathroom or a private place with mirror. Stand before a mirror, see both breasts simultaneously, and stand with your hand on your hips. Check how your breasts appear – note the shape, size, contour, and any texture and skin color changes. Check your nipples and areolas, too, for any changes.
- Arms over your head. Raise your arms over your head while standing in front of a mirror. See if your breasts are moving in the same way. Note any difference. Pay attention to the shape, size, and drape, or the overall symmetry of your bust. Examine your nipples and areolas for any bumps, indentation, or dimples. Note any swelling in your lower armpit, because this is where your lymph nodes are.
In order to successfully conduct these breast-self exams, mark your calendar to be reminded of your self-exams. Breathe normally, staying relaxed throughout the process. Go to your doctor if you see any breast change or feel any unusual pain, and you need to monitor your breast health more closely if you have breast implants.