The Importance of Breast Exams
Every two minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer in the US, making breast cancer one of the most common cancers to affect American women. Your OBGYN believes in the importance of self-breast exams and getting regular checkups, which not only can detect issues early on but also could end up saving your life. Furthermore, by performing regular self-breast exams you get to understand how your breasts should look and feel so that you know right away when something feels amiss.
First and foremost, you should get used to performing a breast exam on yourself once a month. The best time to perform these exams is a few days after your period ends so your breasts will be less sore and swollen. Most breasts will feel lumpy; this should not be a cause for concern (this is completely normal).
If you notice a new lump or you notice any changes in the texture or shape of your breast then you should also make an appointment with your doctor. You should also seek medical attention if you notice soreness, redness, swelling, or dimpling of the skin. Once a year during your annual women’s checkup, your gynecologist will also perform a simple, noninvasive breast exam.
Women between the ages of 45 and 54 should also be getting a routine mammogram once a year along with their annual gynecological visit. Women over 55 years old should still get mammograms but may only need to get one once every other year. Those at an increased risk for developing breast cancer may need to visit their doctor before age 45 and more often for screenings.
Along with performing a breast examination your annual wellness checkup with an OBGYN is extremely important and shouldn’t be missed. While most women associate this annual gynecological exam with Pap smears, the visit involves so much more for your health. From adolescence until older adulthood, all women should visit their gynecologist for an annual examination to help prevent problems and detect issues early on when they are easily treatable.
During your annual checkup a gynecologist can:
- Screen for and help prevent sexually transmitted infections
- Detect and treat vaginal infections
- Determine the cause of pelvic pain and irregular bleeding
- Treat menstrual problems
- Discuss birth control options
- Determine breast changes
Many women will experience problems at some point during their lifetime, whether it’s a simple urinary tract infection, unexplained abdominal pain, or breast cancer. When problems arise it’s important that you have a gynecologist that you trust to provide you with the compassionate, understanding and delicate care you need. If it’s been more than a year since your annual OBGYN checkup, call your gynecologist today.