October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and I wanted to shed some light today on breast self-examinations and the importance of doing these are frequently as possible. I can't tell you how many patients I see that have never done a self-exam before and are almost too scared of their bodies to do so. I want to help change that and provide some insight as to how you can do these self-exams at home. Women of all ages should feel comfortable getting to know their bodies, especially their breasts. 

As you all may know, a breast self-exam is where you are checking for any changes in your breast. There is controversy as to whether this is necessary or beneficial, however, I always encourage my patients to do a self-breast exam. It's so important to know what your breasts feel like so that you can identify any changes that might need more attention.  

The best time to do an exam is 3-5 days after your period starts and should be done monthly.  This is the ideal time because many women may experience breast tenderness and fibrocystic changes that can be caused by hormonal fluctuations during ovulation. If you don’t have a period, then do a breast exam the same day every month.  

The best way to do a breast exam is to lay on your back. Place one hand behind your head and with the opposite hand press firmly down and move your fingers in an up and down motion or circular motion until you have examined the entire breast.  Next, sit to stand and look at your breast in the mirror. You want to check for skin changes such as dimpling, indentation or skin that looks like an orange peel.  While standing, feel your armpit for abnormal breast tissue and enlarged lymph nodes.  Squeeze the nipple, checking for discharge.

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Photo by: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001993.htm

If you have any abnormal findings or concerns, always discuss it with your provider for reassurance or further testing.  

Here's to healthy and happy breasts.

With love, 

Dr. Jodie Horton