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How to do a breast self exam

in 5 steps!

With these tips you can easily perform a breast self exam at home. Learn more about these 5 steps on how to examine your breasts.

Why perform a self breast exam?
It can't harm to know your body! It is important to get to know your own breasts and to know what your normal boobs feel like. The more you do a self breast exam, the more you learn about them. If you are familiar with your breasts you will know when something feels off. This way, you can stay on top of your breast health and notice anything unusual sooner.

When should you do a breast self exam?
Make it a habit to perform a self breast exam and try to do a self examination once a month. This way you get familiar with your boobs. Please note that your breast change continuously. They will look and feel different in your 20s than in your 40s. It is therefore important to keep on checking your breasts. If you want to perform a breast self exam it is best to do this approximately one week after your period. This is the time that your breasts are less swollen which makes it easier to spot irregularities. If you don't get a period anymore it doesn't matter at which time of the month you check your breasts. Tip: pick the same day to do a check so it is easier to remember to do it for example every first day of the month.

What to look for?
It is important to look for any changes in size, shape or contour of your breasts. It is also important to check your skin for e.g. any red or itchy areas (especially in the area surrounding your nipples) and for inconsistencies such as small dents. Pay attention to sore areas where your gland tissue feels different as well. Also be aware of any unusual lumps. Note that almost all women have some small lumps or bumps in their breasts (often during their period as your glands tend to swell). Therefore it is important to familiarize yourself with your breasts so you can distinguish unusual bumps. Also check your armpits for any irregularities.

How to do a breast self exam?
Perform a breast self exam some place you feel comfortable. A breast self exam basically consists of two parts: a visual check and a physical one. You can perform a breast self exam with these 5 easy steps:

  1. Visual examination with arms besides your body
  2. Stand in front of a mirror with straight shoulders and your arms resting on your hips. Take some time to look at your breasts and check out their size, colour and shape. Also check the condition of your skin for any changes

  3. Visual examination with arms raised
  4. Fold your hands behind your neck. Again inspect your breast size, colour, shape and skin condition and look for any changes

  5. Assess your nipples in more detail
  6. Check their colour and their condition (e.g. any dryness or eczema). Check if your nipple has changed position or moved inwards. Gently tug at your nipple and check if it flexibly retracts. Look for any signs of fluids

  7. Physical examination whilst lying down
  8. Use your right hand to examine your left breast and your left hand to examine your right breast. Use your first three finger pads starting from your index finger, keeping your fingers flat and together. Move your fingers up and down in a circular motion, moving in rows. Cover your entire breast: from top to bottom, from side to side, from your armpit to your midriff, from your collarbone to the top of your rib case. Feel all the tissue in your breast: apply light pressure for the skin and tissue just beneath, apply medium pressure for the tissue in the middle of your breast, apply firm pressure for the tissue in the back (you should be able to feel down to your ribcage)

  9. Physical examination whilst sitting or standing
  10. Check your entire breast in the same way as described in step 4 but then when sitting or standing upright. If you notice anything unusual it is always a good idea to bring it to your doctor's attention. It might be nothing but it is always good to double check and be precautious.

Bron: Pink Ribbon