By Angelica Bottaro

Taking care of your health as a woman is more than just eating clean and getting the right amount of exercise. There are so many aspects of female health that you need to be on top of to ensure that your body stays healthy and fabulous inside and out. One vital part of checking up on your health is doing a breast self-examination. This is basically an at-home exam where you touch yourself to make sure there’s no suspect lumps, bumps, or changes to your two favourite girls.

According to the World Health Organisation, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women. It makes up 25% of all female cancers, and in 2018 alone, over 2 million people were diagnosed with breast cancer across the globe.

Why Is A Breast Self-Exam Important?

Breast cancer is highly survivable if it’s caught early. In fact, the survival rate for breast cancer that hasn’t had the chance to spread away from the breast and into other parts of your body is roughly 99%. Since those are pretty impeccable odds, you’ll want to make sure that if you do happen to develop any type of lump, you find it in a timely fashion. Nobody wants breast cancer, but if it’s going to happen to you, you want to catch it when you still fall in the 99% category.

How To Perform A Breast Check

Performing a breast exam at home might seem awkward and a little confusing at first, but as soon as you know exactly what you’re doing and what to look for, it’ll be a quick and breezy way to keep your breast health in check. The exam should take about as long as it takes you to heat up your kettle for some tea once you get the hang of it.

The Visual Inspection

To start off, you’ll want to strip down to bare basics from the waist up and stand up in front of a large enough mirror so you can get a good look at the girls. While eyeing yourself up, you will look for any changes to the shape, size, or dimpling in the skin. Don’t forget the nipples because they’re important too. You want to check for any changes in colour, size, or shape in those too.

While still in front of the mirror enjoying your everlasting beauty, lift your arms in the air over your head and look for those same changes in the breasts or nipples as mentioned above.

Finally, place your hands on your hips in a power stance, flex those chest muscles and look for any of the aforementioned changes. I’m sure you know this already, but make sure you examine both breasts thoroughly while going through the visual examination.

The Manual Inspection While Standing

The manual inspection is the time when you get up close and personal with your girls. In a standing position, you will use your right hand to examine the left breast and then switch, so it’s left hand on the right breast. Using your three middle fingers, gently press every part of the breast using light, medium, and then firm pressure.

You will be looking for any lumps or thick spots in the breast and any changes to how they feel compared to the rest of the breast around them. Using a circular massage-like pattern may help you get every spot on the breast more effectively.

When you finish, press the tissue in your underarm and make sure to check under your areola. Finally, you will squeeze the nipple to check for any discharge. Once one side is done, complete the same steps on the other side.

The Manual Inspection While Lying Down

Lying flat on your back and with a pillow under the shoulder of the breast you’re checking out, lift your right arm up behind your head. Use the same techniques as you did in the standing up position on both breasts, and you’re done.

When To Perform A Breast Exam

Breast exams should be a regular thing, and by regular, I mean at least once a month. While that may seem like a lot, it is definitely worth doing to make sure that you catch any changes as soon as they arise. A good trick to help you remember to do it is to pick a day every month, such as the 1st or the 15th, whatever day works for you. You should also wait until you’re finished with your period, whenever that may be.

Your breasts are beautiful parts of your body that need to be protected from sickness, just like the rest of your body. Doing these tests properly and frequently can ensure that even if something is going on, it can be taken care of quickly. October is breast cancer awareness month, so now is the perfect time to start a possibly life-saving habit.