Your First Mammogram: Preparation And Expectations

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For many women getting their first mammograms, the experience can lead to mixed results ranging to pleasant to scary. A mammogram is a necessary diagnostic tool that is recommended starting at the age of 40. If you have your first mammogram coming up, here is what you need to know so that you can be prepared for the experience. 

What Happens During the Mammogram?

A mammogram can take up to 15 minutes for the technician to complete. During the procedure, your breasts are compressed for a few seconds. The compression flattens your breasts so that a clear image view can be taken. The flatter the diagnostician is able to get your breast, the less radiation is needed to get a clear image. The compressions can be uncomfortable, but for most women, it is not a scary experience. 

What Happens After the Mammogram?

Following the mammogram, the images taken are reviewed by a radiologist who will send a report to your doctor. Your doctor will discuss the results with you. If he or she feels that another view is needed, you could be scheduled for another mammogram. Your doctor could also recommend the use of other diagnostic procedures to detect and diagnose problems.

How Can You Prepare for the Mammogram?

You have the right to take steps to make the procedure as comfortable as possible as long as the technician is able to get a clear image. If you are more comfortable with a female technician, contact the facility ahead of time and let it know. The facility can schedule your procedure for a time when a female technician is available. 

During the procedure, your breasts have to be exposed. However, the lower half of your body can be clothed. If you want to avoid the experience of having to rely completely on a hospital gown, wear pants or a skirt. If you wear a dress, you will have to remove it completely and wear nothing but the gown. 

Schedule your appointment for a time other than during your menstrual cycle. During your cycle, your breasts are more sensitive, and the compressions during the mammogram can make the experience more painful than it actually is. 

Talk to your doctor about other ways you can prepare for the mammogram. Although you might have mixed feelings about undergoing in the procedure, it is important that you go through with it. Remember, it is only an annual procedure that can be beneficial in early detection of problems.