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  • Writer's pictureDr Jesse Hu

How to perform a Breast Self-Examination?

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

A breast self-exam is a step-by-step method women can use to examine their breasts. By looking at and feeling your breasts regularly, you can notice anything that seems abnormal.


Women should do a breast self-exam once a month, every month. Women who are still menstruating (having a regular period) should perform a breast self-exam 7-10 days from the first day of their period. Women who have stopped menstruating and those who have very irregular periods can pick a day each month. Choose a day that is consistent and easy to remember, like the first day of the month, the last day of the month or your favourite number.


A good time to do it is when you are taking a shower.


There are 3 parts to Breast Self-Examination: Look, feel, feel again


STEP 1: LOOK

With your shirt and bra removed, stand in front of a mirror. Put your arms down by your sides. Look for any changes in breast shape, breast swelling, dimpling in the skin or changes in the nipples. Next, raise your arms high overhead and look for the same things. Finally, put your hands on your hips and press firmly to make your chest muscles flex. Look for the same changes again. Be sure to look at both breasts.


STEP 2: FEEL

With your shirt and bra removed, use your right hand to examine your left breast, then vice versa. With the pads of your three middle fingers, press on every part of one breast. Use light pressure, then medium, then firm. Feel for any lumps, thick spots or other changes. A circular pattern may help you make sure you hit every spot. Then, press the tissue under the arm. Be sure to check under the areola and then squeeze the nipple gently to check for discharge. Repeat the steps on the other side of your body.


STEP 3: FEEL AGAIN

When you lie down, your breast tissue spreads more evenly. So this is a good position to feel for changes, especially if your breasts are large. Lie down and put a pillow under your right shoulder. Place your right arm behind your head. Using your left hand, apply the same technique as step 2, using the pads of your fingers to press all parts of the breast tissue and under your arm. Finally, swap the pillow to the other side, and check the other breast and armpit. Be sure to check under the areola and then squeeze the nipple gently to check for discharge.



Courtesy of BCF


If you need some help and guidance on your breast self-examination, make an appointment with our doctor, and we'll help guide you through any worries that you might have!

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