Hello 40? 7 Tips for your First Mammogram

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You’re here. You’ve made it. Walking through the doctor's office doors into the cold waiting room, you sign your name and sit patiently, waiting for your name to be called. You’ve hit the mark; age 40 (how did that happen!), and now you’re here for your first mammogram…but are you ready for the big squeeze?

All you know is that a machine is going to flatten your breasts like two lemons in a press. But there are 7 clever tips to make your mammogram not a sour event:

  1. Try ibuprofen before you go to reduce any possible pain you might have from the squeeze.

  2. If possible schedule the mammogram when you aren’t so tender—usually at the end of your period—NOT before.

  3. Leave your stylish jumpsuit at home. Otherwise it’s going to get pretty breezy under that glamorous patient gown, so make sure you only need to remove your top.

  4. Deodorant, lotion, perfume...not for this date. It can get picked up on the scan.

  5. If you are investigating a specific symptom, make sure your doctor’s orders include an ultrasound. This can allow them to more fully investigate the symptom if the mammogram doesn’t see it (a mammogram finds cancer 8 out 10 times) and you can have the opportunity to talk to the radiologist and ask questions.

  6. Book with an FDA certified mammography facility. They are the pros.

  7. Between your regular mammogram appointments do a self-exam at the end of each period (or once a month if you are no longer menstruating). That way if you notice a change that sticks around, you can be proactive about it.

  8. Make sure you are getting your mammogram at the right age for your risk level.

  9. Get the free Know Your Lemons® app. It will help you do ALL of the above (yes, it will book your mammogram with an FDA center too!) and remind you to do self-exams too (you’ll actually do them now!).

A new breast health app by the charity Worldwide Breast Cancer will change the way you see breast cancer completely. Using lemons to illustrate 12 symptoms, the app makes it easy to know what breast changes to watch for. And it gives you the confidence you need to prepare for your mammogram, learn about your risk level to know how often you should get screened, and to know what you are actually feeling during a self-exam too. Called the “Know Your Lemons”® app, it takes away the unknown when it comes to breast health, replacing it with a fun, colorful look that’s not dripping in pink but with some pretty refreshing information. Our suggestion: Give it a try, it may be more of a lifesaver than you realize!

Corrine Beaumont