how to prepare for a mammogram

A mammogram screening is an important step in taking care of yourself and your breasts. Whether you’re a mammogram newbie or have experienced it once in life, knowing how to prepare for a mammogram may help the whole process go more smoothly. With that in mind, Iris Cancer is here to help you cast light on the test.

How to prepare for a mammogram test

Facility options

If you have a wide assortment of facilities to choose from, opt for the one that specializes in mammograms and is capable of multiple tests a day. An important note is that you should go to the same facility every time. It’s not only easier to compare the results from year to year but also facilitates the work of the medical staff.  

In the case of a different facility, you should bring your records, including the places and dates of mammograms or other breast treatments. The professionals can base on these old results to better rule out any health issue. 


how to prepare for a mammogram

What not to do before a mammogram? On the day of the exam, it’s better not to wear antiperspirant or deodorant. That is because some of these substances can show up on the x-ray as white spots. If you’re not going home afterward, you might want to take your deodorant with you to put on after your exam. Furthermore, light makeup is also acceptable to help you gain confidence when having a mammogram.   

So, in terms of clothing items, what to wear to a mammogram? The answer is quite flexible as you’ll only need to remove your top and bra. A skirt or pants that suit your style, for instance.

How to prepare for a mammogram appointment

In the first place, you need to schedule the test when your breasts are not swollen or tender. The normal situation will help get good pictures and reduce discomfort during the whole process. Besides, try to avoid the week before your period to have the most appropriate images.

Then, discuss with your healthcare provider all your recent changes or problems in your breasts. Don’t be shy or afraid to share your situation. You are unable to tell what’s going on with your body without proper instructions from the medical staff. Also, it’s a good practice to describe any medical history that could affect your breast cancer risk. For example hormone use, surgery, breast cancer in your family, or if you’ve had breast cancer before. You can prepare some mammogram jokes to create a fun atmosphere as well.

How long does a mammogram take?

The whole procedure takes about 20 minutes. The actual breast compression only lasts a few seconds each time. 

First, you’ll have to undress above the waist to get a mammogram. The staff will give you a wrap to wear. Then, a technologist will position your breasts. You and the technologist are the only ones in the room during the mammogram. To get a high-quality picture, your breast must be flattened. The technologist places your breast on the machine’s plate. The plastic upper plate is lowered to compress your breast for a few seconds while the staff takes a picture. You will then need to change position before the next picture is taken.   

how to prepare for a mammogram

At this point, you might feel some discomfort when your breasts are compressed, and for some women, it can be painful. Tell the technologist if it hurts. Then, two views of each breast are taken for a screening mammogram. But for some women, such as those with breast implants or large breasts, more pictures may be needed.

If you don’t hear from your health care provider within 10 days, do not assume that your mammogram was normal. Call your provider or the facility where the mammogram was done. 

Normally, a full report of the results of your mammogram will be sent to your health care provider. Mammography clinics also must mail women an easy-to-understand summary of their mammogram results within 30 days—or “as quickly as possible” if the results suggest cancer is present. This means you could get the results before your provider calls you. If you want the full written mammogram report as well as the summary, you’ll need to ask for it.

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