Tips for a Pain Free Mammogram

breast healthAre you skipping out on your yearly mammogram because you’re afraid it will be too painful? Have you had a painful mammogram in the past and can’t bring yourself to go back? Mammograms are a vital tool in the early detection of breast cancer. This screening finds tiny breast abnormalities before you or your doctor can feel them, making treatment options less invasive, and giving you a better chance of beating the disease. If mammograms cause you significant discomfort, try the following steps to make the screening a positive part of your health care routine.

What Is a Mammogram?

Mammograms are low-dose x-rays that allow radiologists to see changes and abnormalities in breast tissue. During the screening, a technologist places your breast on a platform and flattens it out with pressure from a clear plastic paddle. Two images are taken of each breast. Flattening the breast is essential to expose as much tissue as possible for the x-ray and to make the breast as thin and uniform as possible.

Are Mammograms Painful?

Most women experience only mild discomfort during a mammogram that quickly fades when the breast compression is complete. Unfortunately, some women report soreness that lasts throughout the day or longer.

What Can I Do to Have a Pain-Free Mammogram?

You can take several steps prior to your mammogram to ensure the screening is as painless as possible. These include:

Timing Your Mammogram for the Optimal Time in Your Menstrual Cycle

Hormone levels change throughout a normal 28-day menstrual cycle. Normally, breasts are most tender during your period. The best time to schedule your screening is about 10 days after your period. If your cycle is longer or shorter than average, make note of your breast tenderness levels in a journal for a couple of months and use that information to determine the best time to schedule your mammogram.

Taking Anti-Inflammatory Medications Before Your Screening

Taking anti-inflammatory medications like Advil or Aleve is an effective way to reduce breast discomfort during your mammogram. Take the appropriate dose about one hour before your exam. If you continue to feel pain after the screening, take additional doses for the rest of the day.

Avoiding Caffeine Before Your Screening

Studies show caffeine can make your breasts more prone to tenderness. Try to avoid caffeine for about a week before your mammogram, including coffee, tea, cola, and chocolate.

Telling Your Technician About Prior Pain During Mammograms

If you’ve had a painful mammogram in the past, don’t hesitate to tell your technician. She’ll take the time to reposition your breasts during the exam to make the screening go as smoothly as possible. Sometimes a simple readjustment of the breasts during compression can alleviate pain.

Reducing Your Anxiety About Mammograms

It’s a vicious cycle—being afraid of getting a mammogram will skyrocket your anxiety level - making you more likely to experience pain during the procedure. Try some stress relieving methods like deep breathing or diverting your attention during your exam to reduce pain.

Where Can I Get a Mammogram on Long Island?

PURE Mammography is the premier certified 3D mammography center on Long Island. We offer a spa-like atmosphere in our exam rooms designed for your relaxation and comfort. Contact us today for an appointment or call us at 631-652-3424 to learn more about our state-of-the-art facility.

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