Health Check! Keep Abreast Of The Best Boob Checking Techniques
Let’s talk boobs.
Whether your cup runneth over or you’re rocking a gorgeous pair of A cups, one thing womxn (and often trans men) need to think about is regular breast self-exams. Other than skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer in womxn (and yes, in case you’re wondering, men can also get breast cancer). This means you have around a 13% chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer within your lifetime.
Don’t start worrying yet, though – many breast cancers can successfully be treated if caught early. So how do you do this? The answer’s simple: breast self-exams and, from the age of 50 and up, regular mammograms (your doctor might start them earlier if you have a family history of breast cancer). You’re never too young to think about your breast health, so here are the best boob checking techniques that you need to know.
When should you do a self breast exam?
Most experts agree that a monthly self-exam is a good idea, as it gets you into the habit of checking your breasts regularly and looking for anything out of the ordinary. What age should you start checking your breasts? From around age 20 is a great time to start, but you’re never too late!
Okay, so if you’re going to check your boobs monthly, when’s best? We all know our bodies can fluctuate massively throughout the month due to hormones and period cycles, which is why it’s recommended to do your breast check the week after your period ends. This is because any bloating and swelling should have gone away by then.
Regular checks are also awesome because they help you get to know your body, working out what’s normal for you. We all have different bodies and no two boobs are the same, so regular checks help you learn what shape, size, and texture is normal for you – meaning that if something does seem different, you’ll be able to pick up on it right away.
Think of regular breast checks as just one of those healthy habits we should all be doing, like wearing sunscreen and eating plenty of veggies each day.
I’m ready – how can I check my breasts at home?
If you’re keen to get started, rad! Breast checks are awesome and can literally save your life, so they’re completely worth a few minutes of your time. You can do them both visually (i.e. inspecting in a mirror) and also physically (time to get up close and personal with yourself!). Which method is best for a breast self-exam? Ideally, you should be doing both – but it’s super easy and will be over in less than five minutes, we promise.
Here’s how to get started.
1. Get comfortable
First, we gotta say – it’s totally normal to feel weird about examining your breasts or even looking at yourself naked in a mirror. Try to make yourself comfortable first, if you’re feeling on edge. You might want to take a calming bath or shower, then do your breast check once you’re feeling more relaxed.
To start the check, take off your shirt and bra so that you can see and feel all of your breast tissue without anything in the way. Pick a time when you can be alone and uninterrupted, without worrying about the doorbell ringing or a housemate bothering you! (And if you want to play “I Touch Myself” by The Divinyls while you’re doing your exam, we totally won’t judge.)
2. Use your hands to feel across your chest
Once you’re ready, you can start by lying down on your back. With your finger pads, make a circular motion with flat fingers over your breast, working all the way from the collarbone down to the top of your abs, then check out your side boob, feeling all the way to your armpit. Basically, you want to make a grid that covers all of your breast tissue.
Use your left hand to touch your right breast, then repeat with your right hand on your left breast. You can then repeat this while you’re sitting up and raising your arm, as this pulls the breast tissue so you can feel it from another angle.
So what are you looking for here? Lumps, bumps, puckered skin, or discomfort are all indicators that you might want to see a doctor. But not all breast changes mean you have cancer, so don’t panic!
3. Look in the mirror
The final step is to look in the mirror for a visual exam. With your shoulders straight and back, check out each breast in the mirror, looking for changes in color, shape, texture, or bulging. Swelling, redness, rashes, and changes to your nipple shape can also indicate a potential problem. Fluid or discharge near your nipples is also something to look for.
Repeat your check with both arms raised over your head.
What do I do if something feels funny?
While many breast checks will be totally uneventful, what happens if you do find something strange? First, try to stay calm – there are many things that can cause breast changes, like hormones, weight gain or loss, infections, or cysts. But breast changes aren’t really something you should try to diagnose on your own, so always talk to your doctor if you have any concerns at all about your boobs. They can examine you in their office and provide expert guidance on what you should do next. Remember: you can definitely ask for a female doctor if it would make you feel more comfortable.
There you have it: the RBL guide to breast checks! It’s a small but important thing we should all be doing to keep our gorgeous ta-tas in the best possible shape. So, plan to get intimate with yourself this month and start your own breast check routine – plus, spread the word to your besties about how important boob checks are!