Last week, during my annual exam with my doctor, she suggested I get a mammogram to establish a baseline. I was not expecting this. I’m 37 (almost 38), and thought I wouldn’t have to deal with such things for a few more years.
I have to admit, I was nervous. Who hasn’t heard horror stories from other women about how awful a mammogram is? I was also a bit worried about the results. While I’ve never found a lump, my paternal grandmother did have breast cancer, so the risk is always in the back of my mind.
I scheduled the appointment for later that week and then started asking women around my office what to expect. This was not helpful. It was a little bit like hearing other women’s childbirth stories when I was pregnant.
So, if you are wondering what to expect at your first mammogram, here’s what I can tell you:
- They will ask you not to wear deodorant for the mammogram. I wish I had known this upfront so that I could have scheduled an appointment for first thing in the morning. Instead, I ended up with an 11:30 am appointment on a warm summer day. (My apologies to my colleagues if there was an unpleasant smell coming from my office.)
- You will have to undress from the top up. So, it’s best not to wear dresses or other one-piece outfits. And, they’ll give you a gown to cover-up.
- The person doing the mammogram will manipulate your body to get the best pictures. Just let them move you. Don’t try to help them. Just (try to) relax and let them position your arms, breasts, etc.
- The actual mammogram will be uncomfortable, but compared to childbirth, it is nothing! Yes, your breasts will feel smushed. And there is pressure. But it is quick. The entire process took about 5-10 minutes. Since my office was near the center, I was back at my desk by 11:45.
Hopefully, this information will be helpful for some of you out there!
For more information on anything related to female hormones, from breast cancer risk to menopause symtoms, visit Dr. Lark’s Web site.