katy here - your resident fitlosophy foodie + been there tried that goal-getting guinea pig! confession: i’ve never done a breast self-exam. i know. crazy, right? after 35 years of ample opportunity, you’d think i would’ve tackled this by now. but to be honest, i wouldn’t even know where to begin. swipe left? rub right? (or is that just some dating app the kids are using these days?) do i move in circles? or in lines? the confusion is real. this type of thing has always seemed like some far-off chore that needn’t even be on my radar for decades, but as i grow (ever-so-slightly) older + wiser, i’ve realized how much comfort is found in knowing as much as is humanly possible about my body.
it doesn’t help that guidelines seem to constantly shift. just a couple years ago, the average woman (meaning, one who is not at an increased risk of developing breast cancer) knew that come 40, it was mammogram time. after taking into consideration the fact that mammogram radiation could actually do more harm than good in an otherwise healthy woman, this is no longer the case. experts changed the recommendation to delay mammogram screenings until the age of 50 for women who aren’t above average in terms of risk. once you do hit 50, mammograms are recommended every two years. regardless, one of the absolute best things you can do for your breast health, outside of maintaining a healthy diet + lifestyle, is become intimately familiar with your girls in terms of how they normally look + feel.
note: if you’re at a higher risk for breast cancer, mammograms starting at age 40 - or sometimes even younger - are still recommended. and of course, if you find a lump, a mammogram is a necessary next step. but remember, we're not docs here - so check with yours to find out what's best for you!
as is the case with anything, early detection is key, so armed with all the facts, what better time to take the bull by the horns + get my breast self-examination on than breast cancer awareness month? and with our launch of limited-edition fitbook PINK, which donates $4 to fight breast cancer, i figured i was due. after a little research, i chose a thorough, three-pronged approach that would allow for multiple layers of reassurance that all is well in my mountainous region. here's my step-by-step (g-rated) guide to check your girls. read it - then do this brief-booby ritual that might just save your life.
[1. inspect in the mirror]
first, i inspected the girls in the mirror before hopping in the shower. of course, i always give ‘em a quick glance at this point in the day anyway - throw out a compliment or two, but nothing like the adoring gaze required whilst combing them over for rogue lumps. i started with a quick looky-loo with my arms at my sides. not bad. ok, katy, i told myself, concentrate. look harder. i thought it better to raise my arms up over my head. that’s when they really rise to the challenge, showing any + every crack in the armor.
i scanned carefully for anything i might not have ever noticed before: different contours, dimpling, swelling, rippling, puckering (puckering’s never a good look), changes in the nipples. i’m happy to report the nipples are as on-guard as ever.
my next move: with my hands on my hips, a fantastic flex of my chest muscles. i made them take turns tensing as i checked them out for any abnormalities. while giggling, of course.
[2. rub-a-dub in the shower]
shower time! once i was in + all lathered up, i got realllllll up close + personal with the girls. using the pads of my fingertips, starting at the outside edge of one breast (the side closest to my armpit, i worked my way around + inward in a circular motion, checking for any thicknesses, lumps or hard knots. basically anything that would make me go hmmmmm, wassup with that??. i did the same around my armpit area, then repeated on the other side. all clear up in here.
[3. lie down + circle around]
once i was out of the shower, i embarked upon the third + final phase of my self-exam. lying down on my back, using the pads of my fingertips, i again gave each breast + armpit a rub-down in small circular motions - starting from the outer edge + working my way inward. when you lie down, your breast tissue spreads out evenly across your chest, making it a bit easier to detect anything out-of-the-ordinary. the grand finale: a squeeze of the nip on each side, ensuring there was no weird discharge or lumpiness cramping my exam style. i won’t lie: i had flashbacks to the dog days of breastfeeding.
my results: basically the breast-case scenario (you knew there had to be a breast pun at some point). no discernible lumps, knots or abnormalities. phew! and now that i’m a certified self-exam pro, i can incorporate the most important puzzle-piece: keeping a standing monthly date with my lady lumps to make sure everything stays clear.
have you ever tried a breast self-exam? share your tips in the comments!
time to stock up on a new fitbook? why not go for our limited-edition fitbook PINK? $4 from each + every sale goes straight to the Avon Foundation to help support women + put the smackdown on breast cancer!