It's normal to feel anxiety or dread about an upcoming mammogram, but the to-do list below will help you lessen the stress (and, yes, even the discomfort) of this very important preventive exam.
The weeks before your mammogram
You'll be best prepared if you start by doing the following a few weeks before your mammogram:
- Try to schedule it the week after your period. If you're still menstruating, try to track your cycle, and schedule your mammogram the week after your period. This is when the breasts are less tender, so the procedure won't be as uncomfortable.
- Locate your last mammogram images. If you are a new patient, get a copy of your most recent mammogram to bring with you to your appointment. The Christ Hospital keeps all mammography studies for 10 years.
- Cut down on caffeinated beverages for two weeks. Caffeine can make the breasts tender, so if you're really worried about discomfort, drink less coffee, tea and caffeinated soda in the two weeks before your mammogram.
The day of your mammogram
On the day of your exam:
- Leave your lotion, deodorant and perfume at home. It might be hard to break this daily routine, but this is an important one. Lotions, creams, deodorants, antiperspirants, perfumes and powders can all show up on mammogram images and possibly cause a false reading.
- Consider wearing a shirt with pants or a skirt instead of a dress. You'll be undressed from the waist up during the exam. Though the technologist will give you a gown to wear, you may feel more comfortable just removing your shirt and bra.
- Take an over-the-counter pain reliever. Taking ibuprofen or acetaminophen before you leave the house may help ease any discomfort during or after the exam.
- Bring your prior mammogram images. Last but not least, grab those images you put aside earlier. Your radiologist will use them to read the results of your new exam. They help him or her better decipher any changes in the breast tissue and get your results to you faster.
Another thing to do before getting a mammogram is look for a certified mammography facility. All mammography locations with The Christ Hospital Health Network are Mammography Quality Standards Act (MQSA)-certified. Learn more about our certified mammography services and how to schedule an appointment.