Steps to do breast self-examination, useful to perform a breast exam at home, easily. Discover our step-by-step guide.
Breast cancer becomes one of the tumors that most tend to worry and frighten many women. For this main reason, and because if detected early it can be cured in most cases, all precautions tend to be few.
When it comes to preventing cancer in general, it is fundamental and essential to follow a healthy lifestyle, not abusing fatty foods, practicing physical exercise regularly, maintaining an adequate line according to our height and physical complexion, and not consuming alcohol or smoking. .
As far as breast cancer itself is concerned, in addition to passing annual check-ups that help many women to identify and control the state of their breasts, it is also possible to perform breast self-examination from home.
There is an increasing number of medical specialists who agree in pointing out the importance of women, even when they are in adolescence, beginning to adopt the habit of examining their breasts, since in this way they can get used to the way in which they look and feel normal.
Only in this way, when you get used to and become familiar with the breasts, it will be much easier for you to recognize any change or something out of the ordinary, which was not previously there.
Breast self-examination: how to learn to examine your breasts and why it is so important
The breast self-examination at home allows you to inspect and pat your breasts to control their condition and whether or not possible lumps appear, identifying any changes that may occur.
The ideal time to carry out this breast self-examination is between 5 and 10 days after your period.
What is a breast self-exam used for?
If the woman attends an annual control with the gynecologist for the examination of the breasts (and with this to evaluate their development and make sure that all the changes are normal), the breast self-examination helps women to detect changes in their breasts, such as cysts or other benign breast problems among controls.
On the other hand, they can also be useful in helping some women to detect breast cancer, a disease that is detected early and is curable in most cases, and which is extremely rare among adolescents.
Performing breast self-examination is simple, fast and easy, which only takes you a few minutes.
When is the best time to do a breast self-exam?
The best time to perform a breast self-exam is 5 to 7 days after the start of your menstrual period. In this sense, specialists advise always choosing a fixed day each month when menopause has already been reached.
Since the breasts usually change throughout the menstrual cycle, it is important to choose the same time each month.
How to examine your breasts? Step by step guide
First of all, you should keep in mind that the breast self-examination has two important parts:
- What do the breasts look like?
- How do moms feel?
1. What do the breasts look like?
Start by analyzing the appearance of your breasts. To do this, stand or sit in front of a mirror with your arms relaxed, placed at your sides. Look closely at your breasts. You should look for the following changes:
- Sunken nipple
- Very porous skin
- Variations and changes in its coloration, contour or shape
Then look at yourself from different angles and arm positions. You can keep your hands by your sides, raise your arms above your head, place your hands firmly on your hips, and lean forward…
2. How the breasts feel
Feeling and touching your breasts may seem strange at first.
Lie on your back in bed, placing a pillow or towel under one shoulder. Put your arm under your head and examine your breasts one at a time. For example, if you start with the left breast, place the pillow under the left shoulder, raising the left arm, placing the left hand under the head, and using the right hand to feel the breast.
Using the pads of your three middle fingers, move your fingers in overlapping circles, moving up and down from the outside of the breast (under the armpit), toward the middle of the chest, making sure to cover the entire breast. Surface.
Examine up to the collarbone and down to the bottom of the rib cage. Taking into account the last time you examined yourself, notice what feels normal and what may feel different.
You can also use different levels of pressure to feel each part of the breast: it helps to start with light pressure, increasing to medium pressure, and ending with firm pressure. When you have covered the entire breast, use a finger and thumb to gently compress the nipple, and watch for any discharge. Then place your left hand under your head, and examine your right breast in the same way.
Steps to perform a breast self-exam: summary
- Stand in front of the mirror.
- Relax your arms and keep them parallel to your body.
- Look at your breasts: look at their shape, the skin, and whether or not they look like orange peel.
- Place your hands behind your head, and lightly press your fingers on the nape of your neck.
- Look closely at the shape of the breasts. Compare them with the shape they had in the previous self-examination.
- Lie down.
- Put a pillow under the shoulder of the breast you are going to explore.
- Now place that hand below your head.
- With the help of the three central fingers of the opposite hand, gently press the chest in an orderly manner, until you reach the armpit.
- Also press lightly on the nipple to check whether or not there is discharge.
It is ideal that you perform this breast self-examination between 5 and 10 days after your period. A good time is in the shower.
How to learn to examine your breasts:
The recommended age to start and learn to perform a self-exam is adolescence, but if we are no longer at this stage of life and we do not know how to examine our breasts, below we detail how we can learn.
The examination must be done one week after the end of menstruation, before menstruation it is not advisable since in this period of time the breasts may be inflamed and it is possible to become confused.
An appropriate time to perform the self-examination can be the time of the shower.
The exploration can be carried out standing up, sitting down or lying down in bed.
- We will begin by exploring first one breast and then the other, we will place the hand of the breast that we are going to explore, for example the right one, on top of the head and with the fingertips of the left hand we will touch gently but exerting some firmness, and tapping with your fingertips as if you were playing the keys of a piano.
- Once the exploration of the right chest is finished, we will do the same with the left chest.
- The self-exam not only includes the exploration of the chest, we must also explore both the armpits and the nipples.
- To explore the armpits we will do it with the arm raised above the head as we did previously in the palpation of the breasts.
- The exploration of the nipples will be done by exerting a little pressure on the nipple and then checking that there is no secretion, we must also observe its appearance with which we will check that the nipple is not sunken.
- The appearance of the skin of the breasts is also important, observing it we will be able to appreciate if there have been changes in the skin of the breasts and nipples.
- Observe and pay attention to the orange skin that could appear around the breasts.
- We will also pay attention to cracks, dryness, itching in the nipples, swelling, and redness, high temperature of the breasts or stabbing pains.
Another way to examine the breasts is to stand naked in front of the mirror:
- We will stand in front of the mirror and observe the appearance of the two breasts and nipples.
- We will first raise one arm and observe that the corresponding chest makes the movement lightly, without being heavy and at the same time as the arm.
- We lower the arm and repeat the same steps with the other arm, observing the movement of the chest.
- Now we will do it with both arms at the same time, we will raise them observing the movement of the two breasts that should rise at the same time.
- If you notice that one of the breasts does not rise at the same time as the other, making the movement more slowly and as if it weighs more, it could be a symptom that something is not right.
In the event of any irregularity that you notice or if you notice any of the symptoms described above, go to your gynecologist as soon as possible so that they can carry out the appropriate check-up.