Preparing For Your First Mammogram

Put simply, a mammogram is an X-ray image of your breast that's used to determine whether or not you show any signs of breast cancer. Because your risk of breast cancer increases as you age, it's important that you begin getting an annual screening mammography when you reach age 40. While the procedure itself is a simple one, it's common for women to be nervous about getting their first mammogram. Check out these tips to learn how to prepare yourself for your first screening mammography.

Schedule Your Mammogram After Your Period

During your mammogram, your breast will be pressed between two plastic plates while several X-rays are taken. The pressure applied to your breast during the procedure can be uncomfortable. To ensure that you're comfortable during the mammogram, schedule your appointment approximately one week after your menstrual cycle ends so that your breasts aren't swollen and tender during your screening.

Wear a Two-Piece Outfit

Before the X-rays are taken, you'll need to remove your top and bra. If you're wearing a one-piece outfit, you would have to remove your outfit completely -- not something that many people enjoy doing in a cold X-ray room. Also, you won't be allowed to wear jewelry near your neck and chest area during the procedure, so you might want to skip the accessories when you get dressed.

Minimize Your Hygiene Efforts

Of course, you should arrive at your mammography appointment freshly showered. However, you should avoid applying any type of lotion, powder, or ointment around the breast area. Also, avoiding wearing deodorant or antiperspirant to your appointment. Unfortunately, products, such as lotion and deodorant, can show up as white spots on the X-ray, and you want to do everything you can to make sure your results are accurate. If you're uncomfortable leaving the house without deodorant, shower right before your appointment, and take your deodorant with you so that you can apply it as soon as the X-rays are completed.

Getting a mammogram helps your doctor catch any signs of breast cancer before the disease becomes untreatable. So, it's extremely important that you have a breast screening annually. It's okay to be nervous about completing your first mammogram, but remember, the process isn't difficult. As long as you schedule your appointment at a time when your breasts aren't swollen or tender, you shouldn't feel anything other than pressure during the mammogram, so there's no reason to worry.

For more information, contact Radiology Affiliates Imaging or a similar company.