Preparing For Your First Mammogram

(Originally Posted on May 4, 2015)

 If you’ve never had a mammogram, it’s natural that you might feel a little nervous about getting one because you don’t know what to expect. Doctors recommend women who aren’t at a high cancer risk to start getting mammograms at age 40. Women, who have a history of breast cancer or are otherwise considered a high risk, should start getting them earlier. If you are unsure when you should get a mammogram, talk to your physician and find out when to schedule your first mammogram.

The first thing you should know about getting a mammogram is not to be so nervous you keep putting it off. Mammograms save lives. It’s a fact. So when it’s time to get one, make the appointment and keep it. It is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Here are a few tips to put you at ease.

Try and make the appointment early in the day. Often times, if you are not looking forward to something, it’s just better to go ahead and get it over with. However, another reason you might want that early appointment is because you’ll be asked not to wear deodorant or other things like lotions. You’ll also be asked to remove necklaces etc. It will be much easier to forgo these things for an early appointment so you can come home afterwards to get ready for the rest of your day.

A dress is not the best thing to wear. You will be asked to wear a gown, but if you have on a separate bottom and top, you can just remove your top and leave on your bottoms. This is not a big deal, but this could make you a lot more comfortable during your appointment.

If you have not gone through menopause yet, which is likely especially for your first mammogram, try and make your appointment about a week after your period. This will make the mammogram much more comfortable since your breasts shouldn’t be as tender.

While a mammogram can definitely be described as uncomfortable, it is usually not painful. It’s extremely important that the breast be spread because it’s the best way to detect abnormalities with the least amount of radiation. If you feel you have tender breasts or think you will be too uncomfortable, an over the counter pain medication of your choice can help if you take it about an hour before your appointment.

Know that many first time mammograms come back with abnormalities and the vast majority of these abnormalities are nothing to worry about. Doctors don’t have prior images to go on so your first mammogram will show everything. It could be a cyst, dense breast tissue, or something else that will cause you to have to go in for further testing.

This appointment does not last long, but it’s a very important appointment to keep. If you are in the Palm Beach Gardens, West Palm Beach, or Lake Worth area, call for a consultation and appointment at 561-434-0111. We can help with any of your breast health needs. 

Dr. Lorna Williams

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