Self Breast Exams

executive summary
Breast exams are a very easy and very important way to catch breast cancer in its early stages, and can be done at home and by yourself. gives you a step-by-step guide to this important tool of self-diagnosis.

hot facts
Questions answered:
  • Why should you give yourself a breast exam?
  • When should you give yourself a breast exam?
  • How do you give yourself a breast exam?

  • How to Give Yourself a Breast Exam

    Step-by-Step Breast Self-Exam

    Why give yourself a breast self-exam?

    • Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women in the United States.
    • One out of nine women in the United States will develop breast cancer in her lifetime.
    • The risk of breast cancer increases with age and family history. However, 70 percent of cases occur in women who have no identifiable risk factors.
    • If detected early, breast cancer can be treated effectively. The five-year survival rate for early-stage breast cancer is 90 percent. If you're over the age of 40, you should get mammograms on a regular basis.
    • Women find most breast irregularities on their own.

    When should you do a breast exam?

    The best time to perform a breast self-exam is about two to three days after the end of your period. Bear in mind that a few days before your period or while you're pregnant, your breasts maybe more lumpy or tender. If you don't have a regular menses, then just do the exam on about the same day of the month each time. Pick a date you can remember, like the first or 15th, or maybe the day of your birthday. If you're taking prescription hormones, you might want to contact your health practitioner about the best time to examine yourself.

    How to do a breast exam:

    1. Place a pillow under your right shoulder.
    2. Fold your right arm behind your head.
    3. Use the pads of your left-hand fingers to check your entire breast (see techniques listed below).
    4. Use varying amounts of pressure over each area of your breast.
    5. Gently squeeze the nipple to check for any discharge.
    6. Repeat on you left breast with your right hand.
    In the shower
    1. Raise your right arm.
    2. Soap your hands (it makes the skin easier to glide over).
    3. Follow steps 3 through 6 of the "Lying Down" technique above.

    In front of a mirror

    Look for any changes in the shape of your breasts like dimpling of skin. Also, be sure to examine your nipples closely for discharge. Do each of these positions in front of the mirror.

    1. Raise your arms over your head.
    2. Put your hands on your hips and press firmly to flex your chest muscles.
    3. Bend forward.
    4. Rest your arms at your sides.

    Breast exam techniques:

    Research has suggested that women to tend give themselves more thorough breast self-exams (BSE) when they have a specific pattern to follow. Check the entire area of the breast, including between the breast and the underarm and the area above and below the breast (from collar bones to the bra line under the breasts). The important thing is to cover the entire breast.

    Breast Exam Tips:

    Make your breast exam more fun! For can do it with your partner, use sensual body oil that smells and tastes great, or include your BSE in your foreplay!