Mammograms are the most effective screening tool we have to catch potentially deadly breast cancer in its earliest stages. And once you’re over 40, you should get regular mammograms as part of your well-woman exams. But if you have cystic breasts, fibromyalgia, or another pain condition, you might put off your mammograms due to the pain they cause.
Our medical experts at Low Testosterone & Weight Loss Center, with locations in Allen and Frisco, Texas, believe that cancer screening — including mammograms — is an important part of staying healthy. Here our team shares a few tips about how to keep your mammograms pain-free.
Schedule your mammogram after your period
If you still menstruate, your breasts swell and become tender before and during your period. Schedule your mammogram to fall on a date that’s about a week after your last day of menstruation.
Take a painkiller before your appointment
Over-the-counter pain medication, including ibuprofen and acetaminophen, dull pain sensations so that you don’t feel the compression as intensely. Make sure you take the medication about an hour before your appointment, so it’ll be in effect when you need it.
Talk to your technician
You can call the facility that’s administering the mammogram and request extra time because of your pain condition. On the day of your appointment, tell your technician that you’d like to ease into the compression gradually so you can let them know if it’s gone too far. A slow and gradual compression tends to be less painful than sudden compression.
Try a Mammo-pad®
A Mammo-pad is an FDA-cleared soft cushion that your technician places on the compression plate. According to the manufacturer, three of four women have 50% less pain during a mammogram if they use a Mammo-pad. Mammo-pads don’t interfere with the clarity of the image nor do they require a higher radiation dose.
Have a mammo-party
Some men have vasectomy parties, where they all get the “big snip” at the same time at the same facility. Why not turn your mammogram into a moment of solidarity with a girlfriend or two? By scheduling your mammograms together, you have a built-in support system and someone to alleviate your anxiety during the time in the waiting room.
Bring your own robe
Shivering in a paper gown while you’re waiting for your mammogram only makes those cold metal plates feel colder. Instead, consider bringing your own snuggly robe to change into, so you can stay cozy while waiting your turn.
Unless your technician asks you to turn your body, the most comfortable position for a mammogram is facing the compression plates full-on with your head, trunk, and feet. You can also move closer to the plates so that more of your breast tissue is examined.
Let them know if you have implants
Breast implants displace your breast tissue, so your technician may need to take extra views to be sure that all areas of your breasts are examined. Be prepared to spend a little more time in the mammography suite if you have implants.
Do some deep breathing or meditation
While you’re waiting for your mammogram, listen to relaxing tapes, or do some deep-breathing exercises. You can also start visualizing a pain-free mammogram a few days before your visit.
Don’t let pain or fear prevent you from getting the mammogram you need to stay healthy. For a mammogram or other type of cancer screening, contact our office nearest you by phone or use the online form.