Preparing for Your Mammogram

Come prepared

Wear a two-piece outfit so you will only have to remove your top.

Don't wear any deodorant, anti perspirant, body powder, or lotions around your breasts. These products often contain small deposits of aluminum, and these can be picked up by the x-rays and seen on the mammogram.  They appear much the same as micro-calcifications that can often be found in the breast tissue. Some of these micro-calcifications are malignant, some benign. If these products are not properly cleaned off your body prior to the mammogram, the pictures may need to be taken again after the breast and axillary regions are clean to ensure that what is seen on the mammogram is in fact in the breast and not on the skin.

I've heard that having a mammogram is painful. Is it?

Every woman is unique in terms of breast sensitivity and pain tolerance. Most women tolerate the exam with little or no discomfort. Others who have more sensitive breast tissue experience a higher level of discomfort and sometimes pain.

Is there anything I can do to make this exam less uncomfortable?

* have your mammogram done during the first 2 weeks of your menstrual cycle, when the breasts are less tender.
* some women find that decreasing or avoiding caffeine for at least 2 weeks prior to their mammogram helps minimize breast discomfort.
* some women also find that taking Evening Primose Oil or Vitamin E for at least 2 weeks prior to their mammogram helps minimize breast discomfort.
* some women find it helpful to take a pain reliever approximately 1 hour prior their mammogram. Be sure that this in an over-the-counter pain reliever, as many women may feel faint or dizzy if a prescription pain reliever is taken.

Bring the name, address, and phone number of your doctor or other health care provider.

Bring a list of the places and dates of mammograms, biopsies, or other breast treatment you have had before.

Ask the facilities where you had mammograms before to release them to you, and bring them with you if possible. Your new mammogram can be compared with the earlier ones to see if there have been any changes.

It also may be helpful to:

Bring a list of any questions you may have about mammography and your mammograms.

If you think you may have trouble hearing or understanding the instructions, consider bringing a friend or family member to help you.

If there is something you do not understand, ask -- and keep asking until all your questions are answered.