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What to Expect at Your First Mammogram

Supporting your girls with a great sports bra is important for your workouts, especially jumping plyometrics. When you hit 40, you're going to need to take photos of them too. Yep, I'm talking about a mammogram. This soft tissue x-ray is recommended annually for every woman over 40, and if you are at risk for breast cancer (if your mother or sister has had it, for instance), you start the process at 35.

The procedure is actually pretty simple and quick, but there is a lot of smooshing of breast tissue involved. So it's good to go into the process with a sense of humor and to check your modesty at the door. Here are a few pointers to make your first mammogram as pain-free as possible.

  • Do not wear deodorant, perfume, or powder. These substances can interfere with the imaging of breast tissue and even show up on the mammogram as calcifications, which can alarm the radiologist reading your mammogram, rendering more images necessary. This translates directly into more squishing.
  • Wear separates to the appointment, so you only have to take off your top and not fully disrobe.
  • If you have long hair, wear it up. This way your long locks won't interfere with the machinery and you won't accidentally have your hair pulled.
  • Avoid wearing necklaces or dangling earrings. Or simply take them off and stow them while you are having the mammogram.

A standard mammogram is four images, two per breast. If you have breast implants, double the number of images needed. At your first mammogram, sometimes extra images are needed to get a better understanding of the baseline reading of your breast tissue. At some offices, the radiologist will read the mammogram while you wait, so you get the results immediately, which seriously decreases the stress of the entire operation. However, some clinics will send the results to your primary care physician. In that case, remember to call your doc for results.

Image Source: Getty
sparklestar sparklestar 8 years
If I have any concerns I go and see the nurse/doctor and let them feel for lumps. I just claim about once year I "felt something" and let them perform the checks for me. I honestly have no idea how to do it for myself - everything feels lumpy in there!! I'll be going for mammograms when I reach 35. There is no history of breast cancer in my family but hey... why not?
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 8 years
I'm going to wait until I'm 40, too. This is what my doc suggests as well.
Spectra Spectra 8 years
I'm probably going to wait until I'm 40 to start getting mammograms because a) breast cancer doesn't run in my family, b) I don't want to be exposed to all that radiation when they probably can't really even see much anyway, and c) I keep up with my BSEs and I figure if there was anything there, I'd probably know since my boobs are pretty tiny, haha.
Beauty Beauty 8 years
Great post, Fit. I just had my first mammogram last month and everything you say is spot-on.
Mariana48 Mariana48 8 years
thanx for the response Vanonymous! i just wanted to make sure :)
Vanonymous Vanonymous 8 years
Mariana, I'm 25 and I've had a couple. My doctor suggested it because I'm considered "high risk" due to family history. However, she recently told me not to bother anymore because when you're as young as we are, the images are very difficult to read because everything appears white (when you're young, your breasts are more fibrous and less fat... I think that was her explanation... maybe the other way around? either way, the images are very difficult to read). So, she suggested I get MRIs instead. I would say you shouldn't bother because the images won't show much and the process is not just uncomfortable, but (imo) painful!
Mariana48 Mariana48 8 years
I'm 20 but they are giving free mamograms where i live, should i get one or is it just not necessary??
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