Breast Health 101 | How To Perform A Breast Self Exam At Home
When was the last time you checked your breasts? It might sound like an odd question, but maybe it’s one you should think about. So many women out there never give the health of their breasts a second thought, but doing so is essential.
So, where should you begin? Well, one of the easiest things you can do is perform a breast exam. This shouldn’t take more than a few minutes and, luckily, you can do it in the comfort of your own home. That means that you really have no excuse not to get into this routine.
How to perform a breast self exam
Every woman out there should be checking her breasts on a regular basis. In 2017, Breastcancer.org estimates that there will be 252,710 new cases of the condition diagnosed. The sooner you catch a disease like this one, the better equipped both you and your doctor will be to fight it and win.
So, if you don’t already know how to perform a breast exam, it’s time to learn a thing or two. Every so often, you need to check how your breasts are doing. Make a habit out of it. That way, if there are any changes to the area, you will be the first to know about it. Here’s what you need to do to thoroughly check them over:
1. Take a look in the mirror
The very first step is checking out how your breasts look. So, with your top and bra off, take a long hard look in the mirror. What you’re checking for here is a difference in the way that your breasts look in general.
Any abnormalities will need to be checked out by a professional, which means that you need to be as thorough as possible when dealing with this step.
Here’s what you need to be looking for:
Have your breasts got bigger or smaller recently? Could this be to do with weight-gain or weight-loss? If not, how quickly has the change happened? Any changes in size should be noted and monitored.
Equally, you need to be checking for any changes in the shape of the breasts. Of course, as you age, the shape may naturally change, but you need to look for drastic and sudden changes here.
If the color of either the breasts themselves or your nippes has changed or got darker, that may be an issue. It’s worth taking the time to visit your doctor and talk about this change.
Swelling or buldging
Bulging and swelling of the breasts can happen for a wide range of reasons. When you notice a change like this one, though, it’s well worth getting it checked out sooner rather than later to put your mind at rest.
If the skin has began to dimple, it could well be a cause for concern. Equally, if you have any soreness or blotchiness in this area, you should do something about it. Again, there could be many reasons for the issue, but it’s worth being safe.
Changes to the nipple
In some cases, you may find that there are changes in the shape, size, and position of the nipple. For example, your nipples may have become inverted or got larger. When these abnormalities appear, see your doctor to check that they are nothing to worry about.
2. Put your arms up in the air
Raise your arms above your head and check for all of the above signs again. You should make sure that you are as thorough as possible when doing so. If you note any changes in the nipple, shape, size, or texture of the breasts, you will need to get a further exam from a medical professional. In this case, make a note of the changes that you have seen and where exactly they are.
3. Check for any fluid
While it may not be the nicest of subjects, it’s one that you just cannot ignore. Make sure that you check the nipple area for any fluid leakage. If you see any clear, milky, or even yellow liquid here, it could well be an issue. In the same vein, if you notice that there is blood coming out of your nipple area, you will need to get it checked out.
4. Take a lie down (no really!)
Once you’ve done all of the above and checked your breasts in the mirror, it’s time to take a lie down and see what difference this makes. Using two flat fingers, you need to check over the entirety of your breasts.
Remember, you will need to be as firm as possible to get this right. Check the area of each breast all over and feel for any changes to their texture. For example, you need to be on the lookout for bumps, lumps, and any odd textures.
When you are doing this part of the task, you need to make sure that you check from every angle. That means that you should run your fingers across the side of your breasts as well as from top to bottom. Make sure that you have covered all of the skin here before you move on.
5. One final check…
Stand back up again and lift one of your arms above your head. As you do so, use your other hand to check that breast (using the same techniques as above!). You’re looking for any new textures of changes in your breasts here. Once you’ve taken the time to examine one of your breasts, change arms and go ahead and check the other side.
What if you notice a change?
If you find a lump or, indeed, notice any other type of change in your breast area, you need to make an appointment with your doctor. They will be more than happy to examine you and ensure that everything is just as it should be.