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Self Care Sundays: Why Self-Breast Exams are Essential To Your Health

You go to your yearly Gynecological exams, make sure you attend regular dentist appointments and even care for your mental health when needed. You participate in daily tasks such as brushing your teeth and showering. So, what makes self-breast exams any less important? Let's take a look at some statistics and important anecdotes that you should definitely consider. 

Timing is Everything

Think about this for a second: you go to the Gyno every 1-3 years, right? During those exams, your doctor will no doubt examine your breasts and inspect them for lumps, bumps, or dimples - all signs that something is off. But, what about the rest of the time in between appointments? You should definitely give yourself a self breast exam at least once per month, somewhere a week or more before or after your monthly period, to ensure everything is as it should be. You should examine them in the shower as well as lying down on your bed to feel for things you might not otherwise be able to feel. 

Diagnoses Are Happening Younger and Younger

Many women think they are too young to be diagnosed with breast cancer. But, did you know that every single year, over 1,000 women under the age of 40 will die from breast cancer? It's important to note that 80% of the women who find themselves diagnosed with breast cancer under age 40 actually find their breast cancer on their own through self-breast exams. The most common cancer form for women between the ages of 15 and 39 is breast cancer - and it can happen in women who are pregnant or who have just given birth.  This is why it is so important to be in-tune with your own body and know what your breasts should (and do) feel like. 

For women under 40, there is no completely adequate form of breast cancer screening tool as women under 40 generally have very dense breast tissue, making it a bit more complicated to screen and diagnose cancers than it would be for a woman in older ages. This is, again, why self exams are crucial. You know your body better than anyone. You know what it should feel like. Getting acquainted with self exams now could legitimately end up saving your life in the future.

How to Preform Self-Breast Exams

To preform self breast exams in the shower, you will want to use a soapy hand and tuck one hand behind your head while you use the opposite hand to begin feeling around the outsides of the opposite breast with two fingers. 

Working your way inward towards the center of your breast, feel around for lumps or bumps. Even if you feel something pea-sized or gumball sized, alert your doctor so that they can do a more thorough exam and order any necessary testing to get to the bottom of what is going on. 

If any discharge is found to be coming from the nipple whether clear, colored, or bloody, and you are not currently lactating or breastfeeding, this is also cause for concern so be sure to inform your doctor as soon as possible. 

With proper care and preventative measures, breast cancer can be treated and hopefully cured if caught early. Don't be a statistic - be your biggest health advocate and stay on top of your health. If not you, who will? If not now, when? 

photo by gorgeous mama @janemarina