Breast Self-Exam to Know Your Breasts helps you understand the normal shape and appearance of your breasts. If you notice a change in your breast that seems abnormal or if you notice a difference in one breast compared to the other, you can report it to your doctor.
Initiate by looking at your breasts in the mirror, your shoulders should be straight, and your arms should be at the hips.
1. The breasts are the usual size, shape, and color.
2. Uniformly shaped breasts with no visible distortion or swelling
If you notice any of the following changes, you should show it to your doctor:
1. Dimples, wrinkles, or swelling of the skin
2. A nipple that changes position or an inverted nipple (turned in instead of out)
3. Redness, pain, rash, or swelling.
Now, elevate your arms and look for the same changes.
While in the mirror, look for any signs that one or both of the nipples have fluid (this could be fluid, milky, yellow or bloody).
Next, feel your breasts while lying down, using your right hand to feel your left breast and then your left hand to feel your right breast. Use a firm, gentle touch with the first fingertips of your hand, keeping your fingers uniform and integrated.
Cover the entire breast from top to bottom, side to side, from the collarbone to the upper abdomen and from the armpit to the incision.
Follow a pattern to make sure the entire breast is covered. It can start at the nipple and move in bigger and bigger circles until it reaches the outer edge of the breast. You can also move your fingers up and down upright, in rows, as if you were mowing the lawn. This bottom-up approach seems to be the best for most women. Make sure you feel all the tissue from the front to the back of your breasts: apply light pressure to the skin and tissues underneath; use medium pressure for the tissues in the middle of your breasts; put firm pressure on the deeper tissues of the back. When you get to the deeper tissues, you should be able to feel the tension in your rib cage.
Finally, touch your breasts while standing or sitting. Many women find that the easiest way to feel their chest is when their skin is wet and slippery, so they prefer to do this step while in the shower. Cover your entire breast with the same hand movements described in step 4.
How to Make Breast Self-Exam Part of your routine
Make it a routine. The more the breasts are observed, the more you will know about them, and the easier it will be for you to know if something has changed. Try to make breast self-exam a routine once a month to get an idea of how your breasts generally look and feel. Check yourself some days after your period ends, when your breasts are least likely to be swollen and sore. If you miss your period, choose a day that is easy to remember, such as the first or last day of the month.