Yay! You finally have breasts. Life is great...Now you need to learn how to take care of them!
Breast health is more than anxiety over cancer. It's rare for young girls to develop breast cancer, but there are other reasons why a girl needs to know how to care for her breasts and identify changes. One of those reasons is called fibroadenoma (fybro-add-anoma). A fibroadenoma is a benign cyst or tumor, and is common in women under 30. A cyst is a sac that may contain air, fluid, or semi-solid material. But a lump is a lump and causes stress...so that's why it's important for you to start caring for your breasts now!
How to breast exam may feel strange or uncomfortable at first, but you should get to know your breasts. Then, if there ever is anything abnormal about them, you'll know!
- You should plan to examine your breasts once a month, at the same time each month.
- During your menstrual cycle your breast tissue might change...so the best time to perform a breast self-examination is right after your period ends.
Get to know how your breasts look too. Stand in front of a mirror and check to see if the skin of your breasts dimples or looks strange in any way. Notice how your nipples look. Change the positions of your arms by raising them above your head, putting your hands at your hips, and placing your arms at your sides. Take notice of how your breasts look.
Don't worry if your breasts aren't symmetrical. This is usually normal. No two breasts are exactly alike! But if you're worried about how they look, talk to your mom or healthcare provider.
I feel the easiest way to perform a breast self-exam is lying on a bed, but other women feel the shower is a more convenient place. In the shower, the soap and water make it a little easier to navigate the curves of your breast. You can adapt the technique described below to a standing version.
If you do it on your bed, lay flat on your back. If you start with your right breast, lift your right arm up and put your right hand underneath your head. Move your fingers in a spiral motion from the outside of your breast towards your nipple. Use different types of pressure light, medium, and firm. Use the middle three fingers...not just the fingertips. Check for lumps near your armpits, too. Then switch to the left breast by putting your left arm behind your head. If you have large breasts, also lay on either side, checking the sides of your breasts.
Your breasts may feel lumpy or bumpy, which is normal. If one breast feels different from the other, or you're not sure if your breasts feel normal, go to your healthcare provider. S/he will be able to explain any questions you may have. Don't feel embarrassed! Doctors deal with lots of people everyday that think they're asking embarrassing questions. You can be sure your doctor has heard it all! So ask any and all of your questions—you'll feel a lot better afterwards!
FYI: If you're sexually active or at the age to see a gynecologist, your gyno will give you a breast exam once a year when you go to get your yearly pap smear. You can ask your gynecologist to walk you through a breast self-examination.
It's still important to take responsibility for your own body. Perform breast self-examinations once a month. You'll feel better about yourself and catch anything that you and your doctor should be concerned about!