1 mo

My experience getting a mammogram and what you can do to get the most out of yours!

Anonymous
My experience getting a mammogram and what you can do to get the most out of yours!

OK, so I recently got my first mammogram and understandably, I was a bit anxious about getting my tits clamped in one of those machines so I thought I'd share my experience.

My experience getting a mammogram and what you can do to get the most out of yours!

When I turned 38, my gynecologist suggested that I get a baseline mammogram. That basically means one that they would have on file for future reference when i started getting screened annually. Now I had heard a lot of horror stories about how they "squeeze so tight it feels like your boobs are going to explode" so naturally I felt a bit apprehensive about it but I eventually said "oh well It's just one of those things you have to do". So I scheduled the appointment and they told me not to wear any deodorant because it could interfere with the image. The day of the appointment I arrived at the facility and they gave me a survey where they asked about my family history of breast cancer, any symptoms I noticed and whether or not I had any surgeries on or around my breasts. Then I saw one woman walking out and she was grimacing and rubbing her nipples. I thought "huh, that's strange"? Then my name was called and a technologist lead me to a room in the back. She introduced herself as "Maggie" and then she explained what the procedure was going to be like and why the most dreaded part (the boob squeezing) was necessary. Basically they're trying to image a 3D structure on a 2D image so when all the tissue is spread out, they can get a much clearer image. Well I guess that was some consolation. She also gave me a few tips which I'll talk about later.

CC view positioning
CC view positioning
CC view X-rays
CC view X-rays

She then told me to take my top and bra off and tie my hair back. What came next was completely unexpected: she got a pair of stickers with little metal balls in the middle and put them on my nipples. Apparently the metal ball shows where they are on the x-ray. She then told me to come close to the machine for the top down ("CC") views, lifted my breast as high is it would go and raised the cassette plate. Then she turned my head toward her, pushed me as close to the front of the machine as I could get and using both hands, pulled my boob as far forward as she could. I was expecting to the squish but having your breast pulled away from your chest wall like that is such a weird sensation. Next she held it down onto the plate with one hand and pushed me closer in with the other and said now I'm going to apply compression *gulp. The squish came in 3 phases:

-first she brought the plate down while moving her hand forward getting my boob as far out as it would go.

-second she put her finger on metal ball on the nipple sticker (and said it was to make sure the nipple was pointed forward) and tapped the pedal, increasing pressure with every tap.

-third she turned the knobs on the side of the paddle, poking my breast after every turn (making sure the skin was taught).

Not only did I feel a lot of pressure but my nipple was trying to stick out, causing the sticker to pull on my areola. Then she said OK, now I'm going to take the image. She walked behind a glass shield. The machine started whirring and she said "hold your breath" but then the machine started beeping which made me jump a little. Then when the image was done the paddle released and (contrary to what some have said about it causing sagging) my boob popped right back into shape. But when looking at the image she said the metal ball was a bit blurry because I twitched so we had to do a re-take of the first one. So we did and then did the same thing for the other breast.

MLO positioning
MLO positioning
MLO X-rays
MLO X-rays

Next came the side (MLO) pictures. She rotated the machine 45 degrees and had me hold onto the side handle so my arm was right across the side of the cassette and the edge of my pec was right against the front. Then Maggie stood behind me, pushed me toward the machine with one hand and again pulled my breast as far forward as it could go and while holding it against the cassette, brought down the paddle (pretty much the same way as for the top down views). She told me to hold my non-squished boob out of the way and went to take the picture. We repeated the same thing for my left breast and then we were done.

I said "that's it"? And she replied "yep". So as for how it felt, well there's no two ways about it: it was uncomfortable having the girls pressed flat like that. Also there were some other "unpleasantries" like how cold the plates were and how tight the skin on your chest gets (not to mention that having your boobs pulled away from your chest is such a weird sensation). But it was completely tolerable and if I had to compare how hard they squeeze to anything; I would say it was like getting my blood pressure taken. My tech explained that it's the flatter the breast the better the picture but adding more pressure past the point where the skin is tight won't make it any flatter, it will just hurt the patient. So ladies, bottom line: if it hurts, the tech is squeezing too hard but if there's no discomfort, then you should be really worried that they won't get a good image (i.e. they can miss something). So I was about to put my bra back on and my tech said "remember to take the stickers off". Feeling a bit of "euphoria" about being done with something that had been causing me a lot of anxiety, I pulled both them off but then I made a silent scream in agony. Well now I know why that woman in the waiting room was grimacing while rubbing her nipples :S

Well on to some pointers she gave me for future reference:

1: Get a 3D mammogram. Those are a lot more accurate.

My experience getting a mammogram and what you can do to get the most out of yours!

2: Schedule your appointment the week after your period (when your breasts are less tender)

3: See if any facilities use nipple markers. They help a lot when it comes to analyzing the X-rays (but if you do, make sure you can schedule the appointment for a time when you can shower right afterwards).

My experience getting a mammogram and what you can do to get the most out of yours!
My experience getting a mammogram and what you can do to get the most out of yours!

4: Check your breasts the night before. That way the tech can make note of anything suspicious.

My experience getting a mammogram and what you can do to get the most out of yours!

5: Do some stretches the morning of the appointment. The side pictures require that you bend your torso quite a bit so having an extra little bit of flexibility helps.

My experience getting a mammogram and what you can do to get the most out of yours!

6: Don't be afraid of the radiation: It takes 1 Sv of radiation to increase the risk of cancer by 5.5% and a mammogram only gives .0004 Sv so if you get 40 mammograms throughout your life, it will only increase the risk of breast cancer by less than .1%.

My experience getting a mammogram and what you can do to get the most out of yours!

7: Don't be embarrassed: OK, it's one thing to have your boobs out in front of a stranger, it's another thing to have her touching them but to have her press them in a machine...

...well that seems downright intrusive. But remember when the mammotech is seeing you, she's probably already handled a dozen other knockers that day so there's no reason to feel embarrassed of self conscious.

My experience getting a mammogram and what you can do to get the most out of yours!

8: Relax: OK, I get the thought of having a sensitive part of your body pressed between two plates can be a bit unnerving (let alone the possibility that they might find something). But worrying that it's going to hurt can be a self fulfilling prophecy. If you worry too much, you can't relax. If you can't relax, you tense up and your chest muscles pull on your breast tissue causing additional strain which can cause pain instead of discomfort. One way that helped me relax was to take deep breaths BUT I took them through my stomach so my chest stayed still. Also, the tension might mean part of the breast is not included in the image; a part that may have a cancerous growth. So relax like your life depends on it...

...because it does!

9. No sudden movements: I can be a bit of a spaz which is why the tech had to re-take the first image. So don't jump when the machine starts whirring or beeping otherwise the movement will blur the image. Also, don't instantly back away when the plate releases. Yeah I know we're all eager to get our boobs out of the vice but if you pull away to sudden it can cause skin tears on your inframammary fold.

10. Show your technologist some appreciation: Not gonna lie there's a lot of pressure (pun totally intended) on the technologists because if they mess up an image and a tumor is missed, it can cost the dearly. So when the mammotech is holding your breast in your hand she's also holding your life as well.

11. Don't freak out if you get a callback: Most of the time you get a call back the object of concern isn't cancerous. Also, know what it means if you have dense breast tissue.

12: If you have implants, expect some extra views: OK, I've been considering getting implants but my technologist told me that if I do, they'll have to take 2 versions of the CC and the MLO views: one with the implant included and the other with it pushed back.

My experience getting a mammogram and what you can do to get the most out of yours!
My experience getting a mammogram and what you can do to get the most out of yours!

13. Remember: mammograming your boobs is more important than instagraming them.

My experience getting a mammogram and what you can do to get the most out of yours!

And as a side note I felt a little extra compelled to make this take because my daughter just started attending community college to pursue a career in radiology. I'm so proud of her <3

My experience getting a mammogram and what you can do to get the most out of yours!
16
Add Opinion

Most Helpful Girls

  • diamond567
    Thank you for sharing your experience it gives me great insight on how the procedure will be like! Even though I am 20, I have to get a mammogram done because when I was 19, I had Fibroadenoma; which are non cancerous tumors. I had those on both of my breasts. Now that I know what to expect and how the procedure will be like I won’t be as nervous. Thank you!
    Is this still revelant?
    • Anonymous

      You're welcome, let me know how it goes.

    • diamond567

      Sure thing I will let you how it turns out thank you!

    • Anonymous

      Oh did you get the exam done?

    • Show All
  • pleasestopthis
    I work as a mammogram technologist and it's so good that women are more aware of the benefits of getting their mammogram done. With older machines, it was more painful but with modern ones, it's mostly bearable.
    A mammogram done in the right moment can save a woman's life
    Is this still revelant?
    • Anonymous

      I so appreciate the work you do; keep on squeezing tits and saving lives :)

      My experience getting a mammogram and what you can do to get the most out of yours!

Scroll Down to Read Other Opinions

What Girls Said (14)

  • Screenwriter
    It's like a pap smear, annoying but necessary. Another level of self-care, especially if there is breast cancer in your family.
    A lump was found in my left breast with I was 29, was extracted and was benign. Didn't affect me when I attempted breastfeeding years later, either.
    All the tips are good ones; many of which I never realized: have it done after your period when your breasts are less sensitive! OF COURSE!
    I also like the nipple marker! Smart.
    • Anonymous

      Also, don't look down XD

  • JuliaStyles
    It's a nightmare if you were to have as big of boobs as some of these women have. I don't even think they could get one.
    • Anonymous

      I heard it's worse if you have small ones.

    • You would think that if they can create all these super sensing equipment that can look 30 feet underground, fly to Mars, or create micro circuitry, that they could make a mammogram for any size of breast.

    • Anonymous

      Well they have different size compression paddles. But if the boob is so big they can't get it all on the plate I'd guess they'd image one half at a time?

    • Show All
  • GothQueen12
    Thanks for sharing your experience, some woman might save her own life with this information
    • Anonymous

      Yep, like the old saying goes; squeeze a boob, save a life.

      (. Y.) -> ___ ___

  • zollo
    I actually had one done while I was still in Highschool although I'm not sure why... It was definitely weird taking my shirt and bra off around people and they were really trying to flatten my boobs, I was wondering when the machine was going to stop! It was really interesting to know about the procedure for a breast scan with implants! Although I feel like it would be really uncomfortable, Like where would that whole implant go?
  • Metal balls on nipples 😳 would I not need them since I have mine pierced 🤔.
    • Anonymous

      I asked the tech and she said you would because they like to use the tip as a reference point.

    • I seen guess that makes sense

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, i think some facilities make you take the piercings out but the techs know how to put them back in afterwards.

  • Киттйлинк
    These do more damage than good.
    my advice is not to do it.
    • Anonymous

      How? The radiation only increases the risk of cancer by.1%.

    • Trust it does. Only go if you already feel something of concern.

      Most people that don’t feel symptoms of anything tend to not have anything this is fact. They only scare you into telling you that then “can” prevent.. just so that you ginger it done. It is all for money.

      Unless you really feel something.. most people who take these “preventative” measures end up with more problems than someone who didn’t go because they didn’t feel anything.

      Like you should go take an aspirin to prevent a headache that may get. Smh

  • msbrightness
    Oh - no one will tell you this and it sounds crazy/is only my theory (proven on my 'prostate cyst') - the cancer is only a lump formed because of repeat/long term stress/physical pressure to soft tissue (and the resulting cysts only serve to protect the rest)
    Wear a wire-less bra, keep track of jewelry or how you cross your arms - for males it is the denim/jeans seam that is too hard and causes those lumps.

    Just try it, for a prolonged period, if you ever have any lumps. Best of luck!
  • I had mine done and I can really relate to everything you said the only problem I had was a man did mine 🤦 luckily I don't have to go back for 10 years unless I see any changes
  • 19magic
    I've never heard of this in my life I know next year I need a smear test but have never heard of this before
    • Anonymous

      Well thankfully you won't need to get a mammogram for another 10+ years.

  • pinepte
    Putting your breast up there be strange. When you have something on your boob like ring. Or your boyfriend has teeth marks on them. My girlfriend said to me about my boobs are to big. I requested a women not a guy. Is that strange or not?
    • Anonymous

      The techs handle a dozen pairs a day so they've seen it all and most technologists are female so it's not weird.

  • julieand
    I never knew it was so complicated thanks for the post
  • Kas19
    My gyno was a fucking weirdo during my mammogram and I haven't been back since 👁️👄👁️
    • Anonymous

      Your gynecologist gave you one?

    • Kas19

      She didn't do a full on mammogram, she just examined them with her hands and shit

    • Anonymous

      Oh that's just a breast exam. A mammogram is where they X-ray your boobs.

    • Show All
  • lovedejj_xo
    Never got one. I have Costochondritis so I get test at my cardiologist for other stuff
    • Anonymous

      Glad you're taking care of your own health.

  • Elezabeth03
    They don’t look fun at all.
    • Anonymous

      They're not but they're worth the peace of mind.

    • I got another 22 years to worry about.

    • Anonymous

      Thankfully the odds of getting breast cancer in that time frame is pretty small.

    • Show All
Loading...