October is breast awareness month. While all females have them, everyone’s breasts are different in size, shape and even nipple texture and colour. If we aren’t familiar with our own individuality then changes can be hard to detect.
Why should we check our breasts?
It is important to become familiar with every aspect of your breasts and regular checks will help with this process. Early detection of any changes is vital for successful treatment if any is required. If you are over 40, mammograms every two years are advised. Regular checks combined with mammograms increase your chances of detecting any changes early.
How should we check our breasts?
Step 1: Look at your breasts in a mirror, ensure your shoulders are straight and place your hands on your hips. Be alert for any unusual patterns such as dimpling or puckering and any changes in colour, shape and size. Some changes can occur monthly with menstruation and these regular patterns are considered to be fairly normal. If you have any concerns consult your doctor or health clinic.
Step 2: Raise your arms above your head and link your hands together. Look for the same changes as in step one.
Step 3: With your arms still raised, look at your nipples in the mirror. Check for any fluid coming from either nipple.
Step 4: Lie down and using your right hand firmly in a smooth circular motion, feel your left breast using the tips and middles of your fingers. Begin at each nipple and slowly work your way out to cover each side of the chest. Alternatively, use an up and down motion starting at the side of each breast from left to right to cover each side thoroughly. Ensure that you examine a wide area including your armpits, collarbone and upper abdomen. Develop a pattern for examining so you do not miss any areas. Repeat using your left hand to examine your right breast.
Step 5: Lastly, feel your breasts while sitting or standing. An easy way to do this is while you are in the shower, using the same movements described in step four.
Tips for your monthly check:
– Try to check your breasts at the same time each month.
– The monthly check should ideally be two to three days after you have finished menstruation. If you no longer menstruate or have an implanon, choose a day each month and set an alarm in your phone to remind you to do it.
– If you are not confident with the five-step check, ask your doctor or health clinic for assistance in learning them.
– Should you find any changes, see your doctor or health centre as soon as possible. Don’t be alarmed as sometimes changes are normal, but it is important to have them checked.