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Menopause and Mammograms

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How Should I Prepare for a Mammogram?

Before your mammogram, inform your doctor or the technologist performing the test if you are pregnant or think that you may be pregnant.

No dietary changes are necessary. Take your medicines as usual.

Do not wear body powder, cream, deodorant, or lotion under your arms or on your chest the day of the test. These substances may interfere with the X-rays.

You will be asked to remove all clothing above the waist and you will be given a hospital gown to wear. You may want to wear a two-piece outfit the day of the test.

You will be asked to remove all jewelry.

What Happens During a Mammogram?

Registered technologists who are certified in mammography will perform your mammogram.

You will be asked to stand in front of an X-ray machine. A technologist will place your breast on an X-ray plate. A clear plastic paddle will gently compress your breast until taut. Compression is necessary to obtain the clearest possible picture with the least amount of radiation. Your cooperation for these few seconds is important to get a clear picture. If you feel that the pressure on your breast is too great, tell the technologist.

If you feel some discomfort from this pressure, it will only last for a few seconds while the X-ray is being taken. To minimize discomfort during compression, you may want to consider scheduling your appointment seven to 10 days after the start of your period, when your breasts are least likely to be tender.

The breast will be imaged in several positions to enable the radiologist to visualize all breast tissue adequately. For a routine breast screening, two pictures are taken of each breast. The exam takes about 20 minutes.

Board-certified radiologists, or doctors who specialize in interpreting imaging studies, examine the X-rays. After examining the images, the radiologist may ask the technologist to obtain additional images or a breast ultrasound for a more precise diagnosis. This is often just a routine measure.

What Happens After a Mammogram?

If you feel any discomfort after the mammogram, ask your doctor if you can take aspirin or ibuprofen to relieve it. Generally, you will be able to resume your usual activities immediately.

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