Health A-Z

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Preparation

On the day of your mammogram, avoid using deodorants, powders, lotions, perfumes or creams on your breasts or under your arms. Certain chemicals in these products may cause abnormal images on your mammogram that could be mistaken for signs of breast disease.

Some women complain of breast discomfort while having a mammogram because the breast needs to be compressed for a few seconds. If you have tender breasts, it is best to schedule your mammogram a few days after your menstrual period has ended. This is when your breasts will be the least tender. If you have very tender breasts, you may want to ask your doctor about taking Tylenol or Advil one hour before you are scheduled for your mammogram. Also, avoid drinking anything containing caffeine for two days before having your mammogram done. This also helps to reduce breast tenderness.

Since you will need to undress above the waist before your X-rays are taken, wear a two-piece outfit with no neck jewelry.

If you have had mammograms before and you are using a new test facility, ask about bringing copies of your previous mammograms with you on the day of your test. The radiologist will want to compare your previous mammograms with your latest films to spot any changes.

If you feel anxious or nervous, or if you have questions concerning the mammogram test procedure, discuss these issues with your doctor beforehand. When you arrive at the test facility, the X-ray technician who performs your mammogram also can answer many of your questions.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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