There are few women in the world that haven’t been touched by Breast Cancer in some way, shape or form. Whether we watched a loved one, friend, friend of a friend, or family member battle the big “C,” or even if we ourselves have fought the good fight, Breast Cancer has impacted most of us, one way or another.
In raising awareness, it’s also essential to educate women on the importance of self-exams. Regular check-ins with your tatas help with early detection, especially if you have a genetic predisposition to the disease. While yearly gynecological exams are a step in the right direction, giving self-exams is just as crucial, as it helps bridge the gap between yearly appointments. With that, here are five steps to give yourself an effective breast exam.
Power Pose in the Mirror
In true Wonder Woman fashion, stare at yourself in the mirror, hands on your hips, looking straight ahead. While this is also a fantastic self-confidence boost to kick-start your day, it’s the most effective visual breast exam you can give yourself.
Make sure your breasts look normal (i.e. they are their usual size, shape and color) and look for any swelling, dimples, bulges, inverted nipples, redness, rashes, or anything else out of the ordinary. Any abnormalities are worth noting; when in doubt, talk to your doctor, because it’s better to be safe than sorry.
In the same pose, only with arms raised above your head, take another look in the mirror.
This step should only take a few seconds, as you’re looking for any fluids emerging from either nipple. Any fluid (whether watery or milky) or blood is a sign you should schedule an appointment with your doctor.
Lay Back and Relax
Using the opposite hand to opposite breast technique, get familiar with the feel of each of your breasts.
Use the first few finger pads in a small, circular motion on your breasts, your fingers flat and pressed together. Repeat this motion over the entirety of each breast, moving from top to bottom (collarbone to abdomen) and then from side to side (armpit to sternum).
Some women suggest beginning at the nipple and moving outwards in a circular motion, though others prefer the above-mentioned, up-and-down and side-to-side motions. Whichever method you choose, the main goal is to thoroughly examine your breasts, so find the pattern that feels most natural to you and incorporate this process into your daily routine, whether it’s before you get out of bed in the morning or before you go to sleep at night. This exam is meant to check for abnormalities or bumps.
Wash it Off
Last, but not least, you’ll want to go through the same, thorough examination standing up as you do lying down. Many women perform this procedure in the shower, as wet skin is easier to manipulate. Plus, this ensures you squeeze a standing self-exam seamlessly into your daily routine.
Using the same technique as with the previous exam, feel all areas of your breast to ensure there are no abnormalities, bumps, or fluids. For best results, it’s recommended that you use light pressure on the outer areas, medium pressure in the middle and firm pressure (down to your ribcage) for those deep tissue areas.
Despite the cutesy t-shirts and catchy awareness slogans, Breast Cancer is no laughing matter. Giving yourself daily or weekly self-exams not only helps with early detection, but it also helps you get to know your body a little better. In an ideal future there will be a cure, but until then, don’t be a boob: check them instead.