Give Your Girls a Good Review
Ladies, how well do you know your breasts? When it comes to breast health, it’s important for women of all ages to know their normal. MHP Family Practice and Obstetrics Physician Angela Godejohn, MD, stresses the importance of self breast awareness exams. Only you will know when something changes, so make sure you’re familiar with the look and feel of them!
While mammograms are recommended yearly for women of average risk starting at age 40, knowing the look and feel of your breasts is essential to your ability to detect subtle changes.
So, how do you do an exam? Well, Dr. Godejohn has some tips:
- Grab a mirror and check yourself out! You’re not looking at that great new top you just bought though! Check for any changes in your breasts; it’s important to look at size, shape and color. Watch for any unusual distortion, swelling or dimpling of the skin. Put your hands on your hips and press firmly to flex those chest muscles. Your breasts probably won’t be identical; most women aren’t blessed with that! Instead, look for any changes.
- Check before you rest: When you’re ready to hit the sack, give your breasts a good once-over. Lying down is the optimal position to help breast tissue spread evenly against the chest wall, which helps make any abnormalities easier to find. Place a pillow under one shoulder and place the same arm behind your head. Using the opposite hand, move your fingertips in a circular motion all over the breast, from your collarbone to the top of your abdomen and from your armpit to your cleavage area. Don’t miss any spots! Many women also say an up and down approach works best for them, similar to mowing a lawn, but do what works for you. Use different levels of pressure. Check your nipple for discharge, then check the other side in the same fashion.
- Lather up: The shower is another great place to do your breast exam! With the skin being wet and slippery, it’s easier to move around and feel for lumps. Make sure to cover your entire breast area in the same fashion as you did when lying down.
While yearly mammograms are an essential part of breast cancer detection, self exams can help detect abnormalities in-between, so don’t brush them off because you have a mammogram. Start young (that’s you ladies in your 20’s!), know your girls and become breast friends; it’ll make it much easier for you to know when something isn’t quite right.
MHP is hosting two breast cancer awareness events in October as another way to remind women to take care of themselves and their breast health. The Breast Cancer Awareness Walk will be held on Friday, Oct. 6 from Noon – 1 pm on the Square in Oskaloosa. Registration is $25 and includes a commemorative long-sleeve T-shirt. All funds raised help with education and funding for mammograms in Mahaska County. The 9th Annual Free Women’s Breast Health Night will be held Tuesday, Oct. 17 from 6:30 – 8:00 pm at the Gateway Church of the Nazarene. Dr. Godejohn is the guest speaker, so come out and meet her! Registration for both events is available online at mahaskahealth.org.
Published Sep 14, 2017
Family Practice and Obstetrics Physician Angela Godejohn, MD, loves helping to safely bring new life into the world while supporting the healthcare needs of women during different stages of change. She has served with the Navy all over the world but chose to settle in the midwest because she appreciates small town living and the relationships she gets to have with her patients.