How to Do a Breast Self-Examination at Home
Although our main mission at Trusst is to engineer bras that give you all-day comfort and support, we’re also passionate about sharing the things that we believe are important to your personal wellbeing. Those topics range from self-care to women-owned businesses -- we want your Trusst Bra to support you as you develop a rich and fulfilling life.
We believe that, as women, growing into the best version of ourselves also means investing in our health, and that includes breast health. According to Breastcancer.org, an estimated 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime, and aside from skin cancer, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer among females in the U.S. However, survival chances increase with early detection, and it’s recommended that women schedule breast checks every 1-3 years from the age of 20, and then annually after the age of 40.
In between those professional checks, however, women are encouraged to conduct regular monthly self-examinations in order to monitor their breast health. The best time to do a breast self-exam is 3-5 days after your period starts, as this is the point in your cycle when your breasts are the least tender and lumpy. If your period is irregular, if you are pregnant, or if you are menopausal, then pick a specific day each month to conduct your self-exam. Write this into your calendar so you don’t forget!
How to Conduct a Breast Self-Exam at Home: Feel
- Begin your self-exam lying on your back -- it is easier to examine your breast tissue in this position.
- Roll onto your left side in order to check your right breast, which should lie as flatly as possible on your chest.
- Using the flat pads of your fingers, move your fingers in small circular motions around your breast area. Do this in varying degrees of pressure -- first lightly, then moderately, and then heavily -- beginning with your armpit and moving across your breast until you have covered your full breast area.
- Repeat this using a vertical pressing motion, as though you are mowing a lawn. Then repeat this with a pinching motion all over your breast in order to further examine your breast tissue.
- Finally, gently squeeze your nipple to check for unusual discharge.
- Roll over onto your right side and repeat the process to check your left breast.
How to Conduct a Breast Self-Exam at Home: Look
- The second part of your breast self-exam involves a visual examination to look for any abnormalities. Begin facing a mirror head-on.
- Your breasts should be their typical size, shape, and color, as well as evenly shaped without any visible distortion or swelling.
- If you see any of the following, consult a medical professional:
Dimpling, puckering, or bulging of the skin
A nipple that’s in a different position or that is pushed inwards instead of outwards
Redness, soreness, rash, or swelling
Changes in skin color or texture, including the shade of your nipple
- Next, raise your arms above your head and continue to examine your breasts.
- Repeat steps 1-4, examining your breasts from the right and left sides of your body.
If you find a lump, consult a doctor, but don’t panic -- an estimated 80% of detected lumps are not cancerous. Additionally, your breasts may become lumpier around your period, during pregnancy, or as you approach menopause, so consider the stage in your cycle as you conduct your self-exam.
After you’ve conducted your first breast self-exam, begin writing your findings down in a journal to keep track of any unusual changes. These can be in the form of brief notes or diagrams, but they’ll help you to gain a better understanding of the overall landscape of your breasts so that you can be aware should anything out of the ordinary occur.
Although the breast self-examination is a great way to keep track of your breasts’ overall health, it’s important not to skip out on examinations done by trained medical professionals. The truth is, many doctors are divided over the actual usefulness of the breast self-exam. Furthermore, a recent study discovered that having regular mammograms had little to no effect on the number of breast cancer-related deaths. Instead, the most effective method for monitoring and detecting early signs of breast cancer was found to be seeking out regular physical exams from a medical professional.
How to Prevent Breast Cancer
There is no surefire way to prevent breast cancer; additionally, certain genetic factors may make you more predisposed to breast cancer than others. However, there are several simple steps recommended by the American Cancer Society that you can take to reduce your risk. We’ve outlined a few of these below:
Stay at a healthy weight.
Women with a BMI of 25 or higher were found to be at a higher risk of developing breast cancer, especially after menopause. To manage your weight, balance a healthy diet with regular physical activity.
Engage in physical activity.
Numerous studies have also found a link between breast cancer and exercise. The American Cancer Society recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate, or 75 minutes of vigorous, physical activity per week.
Limit your intake of alcohol.
Alcohol intake, even at low levels, has been linked with increased cancer risk. Opt for a non-alcoholic beverage when you can.
Eat a diet that’s lower in fat and rich in fruit and vegetables.
Although no definitive studies have been published demonstrating a clear correlation between diet and cancer risk, there are numerous health benefits associated with eating a healthier diet that may ultimately reduce your risk. Swap out higher-fat foods for fruits and veggies that are rich in antioxidants and vitamins.
At Trusst, we want you to feel beautiful and confident in your own skin -- and that means regularly taking steps to care for your body. That involves getting to know your breasts and investing in your breast health. We look forward to continue bringing you more content, but in the meantime, keep checking this space to find more info on self-care and all things Trusst!