Once a woman turns forty, it’s common to begin annual mammograms in order to screen for breast cancer. Women with a strong family history may begin their annual examinations at an earlier date, whereas others might wait until they are 45 to 50. Regardless of when you choose to begin your annual examinations, it’s normal to have some anxiety around the procedure. One of the most common questions is whether or not mammograms are painful. Luckily, it generally isn’t.
Are Mammograms Painful?
A mammogram essentially works like a normal x-ray with a few tweaks. A mammogram machine uses a lower level of radiation to get its images, but that necessitates the use of a plate on either side of your breasts. The two plates gently pressing your breast spreads your breast tissue out enough to get a clear image without the use of stronger radiation. As a result, you may experience slight discomfort, but it makes a safer examination possible. If you’re concerned about the level of discomfort, there are a few factors you can keep in mind.
The Skill of Your Technician
The American Cancer Society suggests having your mammogram done at a location that specializes in breast health. At a location such as the Houston mammogram center your technician performs this type of examination every single day. With that kind of daily experience, you can expect your technician to know the process like the back of their hand, allowing them to operate the machinery with a gentleness that you may not find elsewhere.
Going to a location that specializes in breast health also means that the people reviewing your scans are highly qualified due to the fact that they study breast tissue almost exclusively. Once you’ve found a specialized location that suits your needs, it’s important to have your annual exam in the same location every year to simplify the process of comparing your scans over the years.
Your Menstrual Cycle
As we all know, the week prior to starting your period comes with a lot of unpleasant side effects. Breast tenderness is very common, and something as innocuous as a good speed bump can be downright unpleasant. As a result, you really do not want to schedule your mammogram for the week before your period. You may also want to avoid scheduling it during your period for your own comfort.
The Size of Your Breasts
There is some debate over whether or not the size of your breasts has anything to do with the discomfort experienced during a mammogram. Many experts reject that notion altogether. However, many women do seem to believe that patients with very small or very large breasts do experience a higher level of discomfort.
If you’re concerned about the size of your breasts playing a role, then just speak with your doctor beforehand. In most cases, they will tell you not to worry. If your tolerance for discomfort is quite low, then you can discuss taking over-the-counter pain medication with your doctor.
The Positioning of Your Breasts
The positioning of your breasts will make a difference in your experience. Fortunately, the expert technicians at the Houston Breast Center position women’s breasts for mammograms all day, every day. By going to a location specializing in breast health, you’re giving yourself the best chance of a pain-free experience.
The Truth About Mammograms
No one is arguing that mammograms are pleasant. But mammograms are not painful in general. Still, having your breasts squished just isn’t fun. However, a mammogram is a potentially lifesaving examination that you really should not skip. To schedule your annual mammogram with technicians who know how to make you feel as comfortable as possible, contact your local breast health specialist.