In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we caught up with Dr. Stephanie Sublett, a board-certified OBGYN. She gave her expert tips on how to do a monthly breast self-exam—one of many useful tools in your overall early detection arsenal.
According to Dr. Sublett, the purpose of the self-exam is to promote breast self-awareness, that is, becoming familiar with how your breasts normally feel and look. This knowledge will help you identify any changes or abnormalities, such as skin changes or new lumps.
While breast self-exams benefit women of all ages, make sure to contact your doctor if you notice any changes in your breasts.
Here are Dr. Sublett’s tips for conducting your breast self-exam. Need a visual? Check out her step-by-step guide on this Reel!
Breast self-exams should be done monthly. If you’re still menstruating, you should perform this exam one to two days after your period ends. For women who are post-menopausal, do it on the same day every month (e.g., 1st or 15th).
Take the flat pads of your three fingers (pointer to index). Press down and move your fingers across the breast and armpit area. You can go in a circular fashion like a clock or in a radial fashion in strokes out from the nipple and areola.
Make sure that you cover the entire surface area of the breast, including the nipple. Don't forget the armpit. Your breast tissue extends there too.
Use the mirror to visually inspect the shape and contour of each of your breasts. Look for any changes in the skin, including any dimpling, inflammation, or swelling.
Then, put your hands on your hips (power stance!). Flex your chest muscles, taking care to notice any changes in the size or shape of your breast, including any dimpling or puckering.
Most women will not have symmetrical breasts, but as you become more self-aware of your breasts through these exams, you’ll notice if there are any changes.
Looking for more ways to support the cause? When you shop okko in October, you can choose to donate 1% of your purchase to a non-profit dedicated to breast cancer awareness and research—at no cost to you. And, we’re boosting donations by 2x! Check out our community’s progress here.