Fun fact: The third Friday in October is National Mammogram Day! In honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, women are encouraged to set up a mammogram appointment and share their experiences on social media.
Unless referred by your doctor, it is recommended that women age 45 to 54 get mammograms each year, though if you're over 40, you can choose to start now. Women over 55 can go yearly or opt for every 2 years. If you haven't had a mammogram before, here are 5 things to expect during your first trip:
1. It doesn't hurt
The mammogram procedure shouldn’t be painful, but it could certainly make you feel a little uncomfortable and a tad embarrassed. Just know going into it that your doctor has done this a million times before, and there’s absolutely nothing to feel embarrassed about!
2. Bring something to keep busy
There definitely is some waiting involved in the mammogram process. Having something fun to distract yourself with will make the experience much more enjoyable. Bring a book, download a fun game app, and don't forget a snack.
3. You'll have a helping hand
The nurse will help you situate your arms in all sorts of fun positions which may, or may not be reminiscent of cool dance moves. There will be bars for you to hold on to, so no matter the position, it won’t be super uncomfortable.
4. Expect extra scans if you're in your 20s or 30s
There’s no reason to feel nervous, they just need more angles to ensure that you are breast cancer free. The younger you are, the harder it is for the doctor to notice potential problems, so the supplemental pictures are just for safety precautions.
5. What to wear
Dress comfortably, with a top that's easy to take on and off. You'll only be removing your top, so opt for pants or a skirt on the day of the appointment rather than a dress. Typically, you'll be taken to a locker room where you can undress and put on a gown that ties in the back.
Our biggest hope is to dispel the notion that mammograms are scary. They aren't and moreover, they are an essential part of women's healthcare. Early detection of breast cancer could literally save your life, as well as potentially avoid chemotherapy, radiation, and all the tough things associated with cancer. Sure, a mammogram isn’t the most glamorous thing in the world, but it certainly is worth it. Now go ahead and schedule an appointment. Happy National Mammogram Day!