A breast self-exam is a check-up a woman does at home to look for changes or problems in the breast tissue. Many women feel that doing this is important to their health. Talk to your healthcare provider about whether breast self-exams are right for you.

The best time to do a monthly self-breast exam is about 3 to 5 days after your period starts. Do it at the same time every month. Your breasts are not as tender or lumpy at this time in your monthly cycle.

If you have gone through menopause, do your exam on the same day every month.

 

Begin by lying on your back. It is easier to examine all breast tissue if you are lying down.

  • Place your right hand behind your head. With the middle fingers of your left hand, gently yet firmly press down using small motions to examine the entire right breast.
  • Next, sit or stand. Feel your armpit, because breast tissue goes into that area.
  • Gently squeeze the nipple, checking for discharge. Repeat the process on the left breast.
  • Use one of the patterns shown in the diagram to make sure that you are covering all of the breast tissue.

Your goal is to get used to the feel of your breasts. This will help you to find anything new or different. If you do, call your healthcare provider right away.