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Your First Mammogram: What to Expect
It’s time for your first mammogram, and that can be intimidating. Talking to other women who have had a breast screening may be helpful, but everyone’s experience can be different for a variety of reasons.
Here are a few tips to help you prepare for your first screening:
Come dressed for the occasion. You’ll be asked to undress to the waist and will be given a gown to wear. Most patients prefer to wear pants or a skirt with a shirt or top that allows them to easily remove their blouse and bra before putting on the gown. Dresses and jumpsuits, on the other hand, usually need to be removed completely.
Don’t apply underarm deodorant, perfume, or lotion before your mammogram. Many women use some form of antiperspirant or deodorant, lotion, or perfume as part of their daily routine, but these products can compromise your mammogram. If you feel you must wear deodorant, you’ll be asked to remove it before your test, and the technologist will provide a deodorant removal wipe for that purpose. Your technologist isn’t concerned with the absence of deodorant but is focused on getting the best images possible. After the test, you may apply or re-apply deodorant. Deodorant wipes are available for reapplication.
You’ll be asked to complete a questionnaire. These questions are important, and the answers you provide may help the radiologist when he or she reviews your mammogram.
Patients may find mammograms to be uncomfortable, but not unbearable. If you know that your breasts are particularly sensitive during certain times of the month, take that into consideration when selecting your appointment. Breasts are composed of a combination of fatty tissue, glandular tissue, and connective tissue. Compression is used to even out the thickness of the breast, which helps differentiate between structures within the breast and reduces the amount of radiation necessary to get a good image. The technologist will try to minimize the amount of time the test takes.
You may feel like a contortionist. A minimum of two views will be taken of each breast. Sometimes additional views are necessary to adequately image the breast. Images are taken from different angles, which means the technologist will need to maneuver you, and your breasts, into the best positions to obtain good pictures.
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