Self Examination. Examining your Breasts

All woman’s breasts are different and any one woman’s breasts may feel different at different times of the month, so it is important to be what we call “breast aware”. That is to know what is normal for you.  

Start by getting into the habit of looking at your breasts. That may feel a bit weird at first. You may not have done this consciously before, but you will see that one breast is larger than the other. As a doctor, I have examined literally hundreds of pairs of breasts and I think it is fair to say, the only totally symmetrical breasts I have seen are those with implants. In some girls the asymmetry is very subtle, but in some it could be as much as a cup size or two.  

You need to look for new changes in the size or shape of your breasts, a new rash or puckering or dimpling of the skin. Also be aware of what is normal for you with your nipples. Some girls have nipples that point inwards. If this has always been the case, there is nothing to worry about, but a nipple that has always pointed out in the past, but starts to draw in, needs checking out.  

Whilst you are looking at your breasts in a mirror, make sure you also raise your arms above your head so that you can look at the lower part of your breasts.  

When you start to examine your breast, use the palm of your hand and working your way around the breast like the hands of a clock, gently rolling the tissue underneath your hand. Always examine into the armpit too as there is a tail of breast tissue that goes up into the armpit. Finally squeeze both nipples between your thumb and fingers looking for any discharge.  

It is important that you report any new lumps, changes in your breasts or nipple discharge to your GP. Remember, you can ask to see a lady doctor. We have a low threshold for referring breast lumps.

Thankfully 9 out of 10 breast lumps that are seen by specialists, turn out to be benign, but it is always better to be safe than sorry.  


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