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How to check your boobs in 3 easy steps

How to check your boobs in 3 easy steps

You may or may not know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, so it is always useful for us to use this time as a bit of a reminder to check our boobs.

But, before we get down to the nitty gritty of boob checking, we thought we’d answer a couple of more general questions.

How often should I check my boobs?

Ideally, you should be checking your boobs at least once a month.

In terms of the best time to check within that month, you might find that your boobs become a bit swollen, sore and/or lumpy in the week leading up to your period. So it’s best to stick to the 2nd week of your menstrual cycle, the one directly after your period.

If you’re postmenopausal, aim to check your boobs on the same day every month.

And, if you are new to breast checking, then you might want to write anything you notice down

How do I know what to look for?

When you are checking your boobs you are looking for any noticeable changes, basically anything outside of what is normal for you. Once you get into the habit of checking regularly, you’ll begin to become more familiar with what is normal for you.

The main things to focus on are:

  • Skin colour
  • Skin texture
  • The feel and shape of your boobs
  • The look, feel and shape of your nipples

If I have bigger boobs, am I at a higher risk of developing breast cancer?

There has been a host of research done into this, and the general verdict is that breast size doesn’t affect your risk of breast cancer.

However, the make up of your boobs can play a factor. Research has shown that boobs with more dense breast tissue (so, less fat cells and more breast cells and connective tissue e.g. ligaments, lobules and ducts) can be at a higher risk vs those with more fat cells. In other words, boobs that are firmer are, generally speaking, a risk factor for developing cancer.

Making it all the more important to get up close and personal with your boobs, so you know if and when anything changes.

Are all breast lumps cancer?

In a word, no, in fact around 9 in 10 breast lumps are benign. That being said, if you notice any new lumps or an old one comes back, then contact your doctor to get it checked out. Early detection is the best line of defence.

So, to quote Coppafeel, if in doubt, get it checked out.

Check your breasts in 3 easy steps

Now, the first thing to say when it comes to checking your boobs, is there is no right or wrong way to do it. You can do it anywhere, in the shower, in bed, when you’re getting changed, it does not matter. And, in fact, making it part of your routine, will no doubt make it easier for you to remember to do it.

Step 1

Stand in front of a mirror (with your chest bare) and put your arms above your head like you are doing a jumping jack.

Make sure you can see both boobs at the same time. That way it is easier to compare shape and size.

The main things you should be looking for are:

  • Are both of your boobs their usual size, shape and colour?
  • Is there any dimpling, discharge or a rash anywhere?
  • Are your nipples in the same place? Is there any discharge?

Remember, everyone has one boob that is slightly bigger than the other, so take note of yours when you are checking.

If there are any big disparities in size between your boobs, then it is probably worthwhile getting it checked out by a doctor.

Step 2

Still standing in front of the mirror, put your arms down and place them on your hips.

Focussing specifically on your nipples, take a good old look – if you need to lean forward slightly, that is also absolutely fine.

Things you should be looking for are:

  • Is it the same colour, shape and size?
  • Is there any rash or crusting around your nipple?
  • Is there any discharge on unusual liquid coming out of either of your nipples?
  • Has anything else about it changed? E.g. has it become inverted or changed direction?

Step 3

Standing or sitting, use the pads on the fingers of your left hand to slowly feel your right boob. If you have lower mobility, you can also do this lying down.

Pressing them into it gently, moving your hand in a anti-clockwise direction around you nipple.

You might find it easier to start at the far edges of your breast and work your way in towards your nipple. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to do this, so just do what feels comfortable to you.

Don’t forget that your boobs go right up under your arm pit and up to your collar bone, so make sure you are checking the whole area. You might also find it easier to raise the arm of the side you’re checking

And, when you get to just outside your nipple, give it a little bit of a squeeze, noticing whether there is any discharge or crusting.

The main things you’re looking out for as you do this are:

  • Are there any lumps or abnormalities?
  • Are there any rashes or areas of redness?
  • Is there any crusting or discharge from either nipple?
  • Is anywhere particularly painful when you touch it?

If there are any changes to the colour, texture, size or shape of either of your boobs or your nipples then book an appointment with your doctor to get it checked out.

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Here are some links to handy additional resources:

Coppafeel

Breast Cancer Now

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