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How to Check Your Breasts at Home (Self Breast Exam)

Updated: Nov 10, 2023


How to Check Your Breasts at Home

Ladies, have you heard about the breast self-exam (BSE)? It's a simple check you can do at home to look out for your health. Let us explain why and how to do it.


Breast health is super important. Sometimes, changes happen in our breasts. This can mean lumps, skin that looks different, or even some liquid from the nipple. These changes might point to breast cancer.


Breast cancer affects many women all over the world. But here's the thing: catching it early makes a big difference. If we find it soon, the chances of getting better are higher. But waiting for doctor visits might mean we don't catch these changes fast enough.


That's where the BSE comes in. It's a way for you to check your breasts at home so that you can look out for your own health. There are no special tools that are needed for the BSE, just your hands and eyes. It's a good idea to do this check every month, especially if you're over 20. Some women like to follow the rule to “feel it on the first.” This means feeling your breasts on the first of every month so that you can hold yourself accountable. By doing it often, you'll know what's normal for you and quickly notice if something's different.


This home check doesn't replace doctor visits or mammograms, but it's a great extra step to take care of yourself.



Why Checking Your Breasts at Home Matters?


Let's talk about why it's important. Checking your breasts helps you know what's normal for you. Every woman's breasts are unique. When you know your own, you can spot changes faster. These changes, like a new lump or a different feel, could be early signs of breast cancer. By doing these checks, you're looking out for yourself. It's like being your own health detective. You're catching clues early when things might be easier to manage.



The Best Time to Check Your Breasts at Home


Ladies, do you know the best time to check your breasts at home? Let's break it down.


When?


A good rule, which is the ideal time if you are not “feeling it on the first,” is a few days after your period ends. During this time, your breasts aren't as sore or swollen. This means you can feel better and spot things more easily.


How often should you check?


woman checking calendar for breast exam


Aim for once a month. This way, you get to know your breasts well. And when you're familiar with them, you can quickly tell if something feels different.


And hey, even if you get regular doctor checks or mammograms, keep doing your home checks for an extra layer of protection. The more you check, the better you can spot early signs of problems.



Getting Ready to Check Your Breasts at Home


Before you start your breast self-exam, it's good to get prepared. Here's how to set things up.

  1. Quiet Space: First, find a calm spot without distractions. This helps you focus and stay relaxed. Think of it like setting the mood for an important date – with yourself!

  2. Know What's Normal: Before you start, remind yourself of how your breasts usually feel and look. This way, you'll know if something's different. Keep an eye out for changes, like lumps or changes in size.

  3. Have What You Need: Grab a mirror. It's good to look at your breasts while you're checking. Also, find a comfy place, like your bed, to sit or lie down. Being relaxed helps you do a better check.

When you're ready to check your breasts, remember these steps. They'll help make sure you're doing a thorough job. Checking your breasts can help catch early signs of breast cancer, so let's make sure we're setting up for success!



Easy Steps to Check Your Breasts at Home


Mirror Check




  • Stand in front of a mirror with your arms by your side.

  • Look at your breasts. They should be their usual size, shape, and color.

  • Watch out for things like skin that are dimpled, nipples turned inward, or one breast looking different than the other.



Lying Down Check


Lying Dock Breast Check

  • Lie down on a flat surface, such as your bed.

  • Use the three middle fingers of your hand to feel your breast.

  • Move your fingers up and down, covering your whole breast and armpit. It is useful to follow a pattern that works for you to make sure you cover the whole breast, such as circles inwards.

  • Be gentle but firm, feeling for any lumps or changes.


Shower Check


Shower Breast Check

  • This is like the lying down check but in the shower.

  • Wet, soapy skin makes it easy to feel any differences.

  • Cover your entire breast and armpit, feeling for changes.

Doing these checks every month can help catch early signs of breast cancer. If you notice something different or weird, talk to your doctor. Remember, you're looking out for your health, and it's always good to be on the safe side!



What Your Breast Check Results Mean?


If you're doing a breast self-exam, it's super important to know what you're feeling for and what it might mean. Let's break it down.


Normal Results:

  • Breasts might feel a bit lumpy. That's okay! It can be because of fat or glands.

  • Your breasts stay the same in size, shape, and color.


Things to Watch Out For:


Lumps that feel different than the rest. Watch for these potential signs of a cancerous breast lumps:

  • A distinct, hard mass in the breast tissue, which is initially movable but becomes fixed over time. This is the most common breast cancer symptom.

  • Skin changes on the breast, like dimpling, indentation, redness, or swelling, especially visible when arms are lifted.

  • Alterations to the breast's shape or size compared to the other breast.

  • Localized breast pain in a specific spot that doesn't go away.

  • Changes to the nipple, including bloody discharge, inversion, crusting or scaling. One nipple appearing different than the other warrants seeing a doctor.

Found something unusual? First, take a deep breath. Don't jump to conclusions or get super worried. Instead, write down what you noticed. Like, is one breast looking different? Is there a new lump?


Most importantly, if you see these changes over a few checks, it's a good idea to chat with a doctor. They can help figure out what's going on. Catching things early is a big win for your health. Remember, doctors are there to help and guide you. It's always better to be safe and get checked out!



Breast Self-Exams: What They Can and Can't Do


Checking your breasts at home is a great step for health. But it's important to know what a breast self-exam (BSE) can and can't do.


What BSE Can Do:

  • Helps you know what's normal for your breasts.

  • It lets you spot changes or unusual things early on.

What BSE Can't Do:

  • It doesn't replace mammograms. Mammograms are special X-rays that see inside your breast. They can find tiny problems before you can feel them.

  • It can lead to mistakes:

    • False Positives: Sometimes, you might think there's a problem, but it's just normal breast stuff. This can lead to extra tests or worry.

    • False Negatives: Other times, you might miss a real problem.

So, while checking your breasts at home is a good habit, it's only part of the picture. It's super important to still see your doctor and get mammograms when they suggest it. Think of BSE as one tool in a bigger toolbox for taking care of your breast health.



More Ways to Take Care of Your Breast Health


More Ways to Take Care of Your Breast Health

Checking your breasts at home with a breast self-exam (BSE) is a good start. But there's more to breast health than just BSEs. Let's dive deeper.


1. Mammograms


While BSEs help you spot changes, mammograms are super important too. They are like special X-rays for your breasts. These tests can find tiny problems, even before you can feel them. Every woman should talk to her doctor about when to start getting them.


2. Doctor's Check-ups


Even if you do BSEs, it's still a good idea to have your doctor check your breasts too. They are trained to spot problems and can give you more info about what's normal for you.


Beware of Mistakes in BSEs:

  • False Positives: Sometimes, in a BSE, you might feel something and think it's a problem. But it's just regular breast tissue. This can cause unnecessary stress.

  • False Negatives: This means missing something. You might not notice a lump or change that's important.

While BSEs are helpful, they're just one piece of the puzzle. It's always a good idea to use all the tools and resources available to take care of your breast health. Make sure to chat with your doctor about all your options and any concerns you have. They're there to help!



Taking Charge of Your Breast Health


Taking Charge of Your Breast Health

Checking your breasts regularly isn't just a good idea—it can be a lifesaver. Making it a regular habit means you're looking out for yourself, always keeping an eye on any changes.


If you notice something different, don't keep it to yourself. Reach out to a doctor or healthcare expert. They're there to guide and help you.


Talking about breast health and breast cancer helps everyone. It makes us informed, ready, and supportive of each other. Taking care of our health and being there for one another is what it's all about. Your health is invaluable, so let's keep it at the forefront.


 

About Germie


Germie's mission is to create a female health network that operates as an end-to-end solution to bridge the divide between patient and professional, brought to you in an easy, digestible way.


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