How to Perform a Breast Exam at Home

Published On: January 26, 2024Categories: Mammography, Wellness

Your Genesis OBGYN provider may recommend that you perform routine self-breast exams at home. These exams can help you monitor your breast health in between appointments and increase your breast awareness.

Why Are Self-Breast Exams Important?Self Check

Home breast exams have several benefits. Routine exams give you a better understanding of the normal feel and look of your breasts. This makes it easier to spot potential changes in your breasts compared to how they’ve looked and felt previously.

Performing routine exams helps you identify breast abnormalities, such as lumps or an inverted nipple. Noticing anomalies early can help address diseases, infections, and breast cancers as soon as possible.

How to Perform a Self-Breast Exam

When performing self-breast exams, we recommend choosing a consistent time of the month. If you are still menstruating, you’ll want to perform a breast exam after your period has ended. Picking the same day each month can help you remember to perform the exam.

There are a few important steps to a self-breast exam:

Step One: Look in the Mirror

Before beginning a physical exam, take a look at your breasts in the mirror to get an idea of what they look like. Leave your arms at your side and look for potential changes in your breasts’ shape, size, skin texture, or nipples.

Then, raise your arms over your head and look at your breasts again. When ready, place your hands on your hips and flex your chest muscles. Observe both breasts again in this position for any changes.

Step Two: Put One Arm Behind Your Head

Whether you’re lying down to perform your exam or standing up, raise one arm and put it behind your head. Some people prefer to lie down during a self-breast exam because the breast tissue spreads out more, making it easier to feel for any potential changes.

Step Three: Examine Your Breast

Take the opposite hand (left hand for your right breast and right hand for your left breast) and press three fingers on every part of your breast. Use the pads of your fingers rather than the tips. You can also use the palm or back of your hand if you do not have much sensitivity in your fingers.

Follow a circular pattern to ensure that you cover the entire breast. Begin near the collarbone and move in a circle, clockwise or counterclockwise, moving inward towards your nipple. You may need different amounts of pressure to feel various layers of breast tissue.

Step Four: Repeat For the Other Breast

When you’ve finished with one breast, lower your arm. Then, raise your other arm in the same position and begin your exam on your second breast.

When to Follow Up With Your Provider

If you notice any changes in your breasts, including the following symptoms, be sure to contact your provider:

  • Dimples, puckers, bulges, or ridges on the skin of your breast
  • Redness, warmth, swelling, or pain of the breast
  • Itching, scales, sores or rashes
  • Bloody nipple discharge
  • A hard lump near your underarm
  • A newly inverted nipple

Your provider is here to help you determine what’s going on and answer all your questions. They may recommend follow-up tests or screening to determine the cause of these changes.

Discuss At-Home Breast Exams With Your Healthcare Provider

If you have questions about performing a breast exam at home or noticed something during an exam, your Genesis OBGYN provider is here to help. We will discuss any symptoms you’ve found and perform a clinical exam.

Contact us to request an appointment.