A saying goes, ‘being forewarned is forearmed.’ A proactive mindset towards our future is an investment in our health. To make that happen, a woman needs to have an awareness of her personal health. Doctors suggest pre-emptive screenings like mammography to prevent breast cancer.
So as a woman, it is important for you to be aware of your body, and breasts in particular, right from your 20s. A simple breast self-examination can allow you to know how your breasts look and feel. And if you notice anything suspicious, you can take steps to prevent any dangerous illness.
Would you like to know more about breast self examination? Then this is the post you must read.
What Is A Breast Self Examination:
A breast self examination is the method through which you check your breasts for any abnormalities or changes in thickness. One must not confuse small changes such as change in size with disturbing lumps. A breast exam familiarizes a woman with her breasts and helps her identify any doubtful irregularities.
A breast self examination is best performed 3-5 days after the period has started. This is because the breasts must not be tender or painful during the process. Your breasts are the least lumpy during this time of the month (1).
According to research, it is better and more convenient to lie down than stand up while examining yourself. Breast examinations are also performed standing up with the arms raised, but lying down makes the breast tissue spread more evenly over the chest (2).
Steps To Self Examine:
Below are the steps that let you know how to do self breast examination.
1. First Look:
Firstly, stand before a large mirror undressed and place your hands on the hips. Keeping the shoulders straight, observe your breasts for swelling, dimpling, puckering or uneven shape and color. Any distortion should be made a note of.
2. Nipple Check:
Next, check the nipples for any watery discharge. Pinch the nipples to ensure there is no fluid (milky or yellow). Examine if the nipples are facing outward normally or inward, or if there is any peeling. Now raise the hands and repeat the observation for point 1 and 2.
3. On The Side:
Check for changes in shape towards the side. Roll your shoulders and check for similar changes.
4. Lie Down:
Lie down comfortably for the next part of the self examination of breast. Use the right hand for the left breast and the left hand for the right breast.
5. Left Breast:
Fold the left hand behind your head. Keep the palm of your right hand flat and using the tip of the four fingers put slight pressure over the left breast. Make circular motions to feel for any lumps and irregularities underneath.
6. Cover The Breast:
Alternately, one can make vertical movements as it seems to help many women. Circular or vertical, the movements have to overlap, starting from the collarbone and armpit, following the curve of the breast, slowly reaching the underside near the chest bone or sternum. Here the movements again go up following the same path in the opposite direction covering the whole breast in a clockwise fashion.
7. Right Breast:
Repeat the examination for the right breast using the left hand. Ensure the entire breast is covered, particular near the armpits.
[ Read: Home Remedies For Armpit Lumps ]
8. Pressure Variations:
There are three variations in pressure. Light pressure allows you to feel the tissue just below the skin, medium pressure goes little deeper, while firm pressure makes you feel the tissue right down to the rib cage.
9. Soapy Texture:
Experts have suggested that this part is made easier if the breast is made soapy or slippery as the tissues underneath are felt with better clarity.
10. The Center:
When you place your fingers in the middle portion of your breasts, they should go right in. Some women have a few lumps. It is important to have knowledge of it and notice any new changes.
For those with breast implants, it is possible to have a self breast examination. Once they know the exact contours of where the implant is, according to their doctor, a self exam is quite simple. A menopausal woman can perform a breast self examination any time she wishes to, though doctors warn it is no authority over proven diagnostic methods of cancer detection.
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