What to Expect From Your First Mammogram

May 17, 2016

Getting your first mammogram can be stressful, emotional and nerve-racking. Basically, this is often the case because it’s your first one and you don’t know what to expect. Even women who have had mammograms before experience concerns about the procedure. We want to educate women and our patients about the importance of mammograms and how they can help you.

What Is a Mammogram?

A mammogram uses a low-dose X-Ray to take a picture of your breast tissue. It can detect lumps that are too small to be felt. It’s recommended that women at the age of 40 get a mammogram every year.

How to Prepare for a Mammogram

  • Try to schedule your mammogram the week or so before your period. This is to ensure that your breasts or nipples aren’t swollen or tender. We want everyone to be as comfortable as possible and want the pictures to be clear as well.
  • Discuss any new findings or problems you’ve experienced with your breasts with your doctor right away.
  • Try to get your mammogram procedure(s) done at the same place each time so it’s easy to compare test results from year to year.
  • On the day of your mammogram there are a few things you need to know. Don’t wear deodorant or antiperspirant. Some of these may contain chemicals that affect the X-Ray.
  • We recommend wearing a shirt and pants, or a shirt and skirt. Anything that makes the process easier so you only have to remove your shirt and bra for the exam.
  • Tell the technician doing the exam if you are breastfeeding or pregnant. Also update your doctor on any family history of breast cancer or any changes you’ve noticed in your breasts.

What to Expect from Your Mammogram

  • Your mammogram will take roughly 20 to 30 minutes.
  • You will undress from the waist up. Only you and the technician will be in the room.
  • You will place your breasts on a platform and the plastic top of the platform will lower on your breasts to flatten them. They will be compressed for roughly 20 seconds. This is to ensure that your breast tissue is flat so if there are any lumps they can be easily detected.
  • For some women, the compression process may cause slight discomfort. But usually only two views of each breast are taken.
  • If you feel more pain than discomfort during the process, tell your technician. It’s an open and safe environment. Everyone wants you to be healthy, comfortable and aware of your body.

What Your Mammogram Results Mean

  • A radiologist will send a report of the X-Ray to your doctor.
  • It’s important to note that many women get suspicious findings from their first mammogram. This may happen for a variety of reasons, including that you don’t have previous reports to compare the current results to. This is another reason to bring previous mammogram results to your doctor.
  • Not all suspicious findings are cancer. Sometimes they can be cysts, dense tissue or just the result of unclear findings.
  • If you do have unclear spots on your mammogram results, you may get called in to have a second mammogram.

Mammograms are important for every woman. Be aware of your body and live a long and healthy life.

Call OB-GYN Women’s Centre of Lakewood Ranch

The doctors at Women’s Centre of Lakewood Ranch are passionate about keeping women healthy in every stage of their life. For more information about mammograms, menopause or anything else, call us today.