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Breast Self-Exam

Breast Self-Exam

In this article we’ll look at how to check your breasts for any changes.

How to Check Your Breasts

This article has been medically approved by Pharmacist Sumaiya Patel - GPhC Reg No: 2215078

Every breast is different, which is why it’s so important to check your breasts regularly, so you learn how they usually look and feel. By becoming familiar with your breasts, you’ll be able to spot any changes and discuss these with your GP. In our article below, we’ll look at a simple method to thoroughly check your breasts. Both men and women can use this method.

How to check your breasts

There’s no right or wrong way to check your breasts, but below we’ll outline a good technique to get you started!

A menstrual cycle can affect how your breasts feel. For example, some people may have tender, lumpy breasts (especially near the armpit) around the time of their period. Similarly, after menopause, breasts can feel softer and not as lumpy.

Start your breast exam by removing all clothes covering your breasts in a quiet, warm, well-lit room with a mirror. Check your breasts are their usual size, shape, and colour. You should also raise your arms above your head to check your armpit area.

Next, use the fingertips of your opposite hands to check your breasts (meaning you should use your left hand to check your right breast and vice versa). Examine from your abdomen to your collarbone and from the centre of your chest to your armpit, starting from the nipple and moving outwards. You can use circular motions or up and down motions, whichever feels most comfortable for you. You may find this more comfortable to do when the skin is slippery, like in the shower or by using massage lotion or oil.

What to look for

When looking at your breasts in the mirror, you should check that they are their usual size, shape, and colour. Additionally, keep an eye on any changes in the look or feel of your skin like redness, dimpling, rashes or bulging of the skin. As well as this, you should look out for any changes in nipple position, like your nipple being pulled in or pointing in a different direction.

When carrying out a physical check, you’re looking for any new lump, thickening, or bumpy area in one breast or armpit. This is different from the same place on the opposite side.

You should also see your GP if you’ve noticed any nipple discharge that isn’t milky; a moist, red area on your nipple that doesn’t heal easily; a rash on or around your nipple; or any discomfort or pain in one breast.

See your GP if you’re concerned

If you find something unusual – don’t panic. Breast changes can happen for many reasons, and most of them aren’t serious. However, you should bring these changes up with your GP as soon as possible.