How to do a Self Breast Exam at Home
How to do a Self Breast Exam at Home

How to do a Self Breast Exam at Home

Dana Donofree
3 min read
Giving yourself a self-exam or regularly examining your breasts can be a very important way to find breast cancer early. The earlier it’s found, the easier it could be to treat. In addition to self-exams, early screening methods can also increase your odds for early detection.
If you do notice a new change in your breasts, it is best to discuss these changes with your doctor to be sure. Some medical organizations don’t recommend routine breasts self-exams as a part of breast cancer screening; however, doctors believe there is value in women being familiar with their own bodies. Being familiar with your breasts, can help you better identify if you feel something new and unusual. A self-exam can save your life and were going to show you how with our 4 quick and easy steps to do once a month.
How to Complete a Self Breast Exam Step 1 - Set a Reminder

 1. Pick the same day each month to do your exam 

  • Do an exam at the same time each month, to help keep you on track for when you did the exam
  • Women who are still menstruating (having a regular period) should perform a breast self-exam after their period. 
  • Women who have stopped menstruating and those who have very irregular periods can pick a day each month

How to Complete A Self Breast Exam Step 2 - Examine in the Mirror

2. Examine your breasts while looking in the mirror 

  • Start examining your breasts while looking in the mirror, with your hands on your hips and shoulders straight  
  •  You should be focusing on the size, shape and color of your breasts, while also looking to see if there are any signs of swelling in the area. 
If you see any of the following you should seek medical advice: 
  • Dimpling, puckering, or bulging of the skin 
  • A nipple that has changed its position or has become inverted 
  • Any redness, soreness, a rash or swelling 


How to Complete a Self Breast Exam Step 3 - Examine in the Shower

 3. Feel for any changes while in the shower 

  • Shower in warm water for best accurate results 
  • Use your three fingers to check the entire breast and armpit area by pressing down with firm pressure 
  • Look for any signs of fluid coming out of one or both nipples (could be watery, milky, yellow or blood) 
  • Standing up while examining your breasts can help detect lumps 
  • Many women find it easiest to feel their breasts while their skin is slippery and wet 


How to Complete a Self Breast Exam Step 4 - Lying Down

 4. Repeat the exam while lying down 

  • Place one arm behind your head. Using your other arm, move the pads of your fingers (while keeping your fingers flat and together)  around the opposite breast/armpit, using firm pressure. 
  • Cover the entire breast from top to bottom, side to side; from your collarbone all the way to the top of your abdomen, from armpit to cleavage. 

When should I call my doctor? 

If you find a lump during your self-exam or any other worrisome, stay calm. Most self-exam findings are not signs of breast cancer; your body just may be changing due to age. However, you should still call your doctor if you notice any of the following changes: 
  • Change in the look or feel of your breast  
  • Change in the size of your breast  
  • Rash on your nipple  
  • Swelling of one or both of your breasts  
  • Dimpling or puckering of the skin around the breast  
  • Nipple discharge  
  • Pain in a particular spot on the breast won't go away  
  • Warmth, redness or dark spots on your skin 


Dana Donofree
Dana Donofree

Founder and CEO of AnaOno. After a diagnosis of breast cancer in her late 20’s, Dana took her own lived experience and fashion design background and (re)designed intimates for those that have undergone breast surgery. Dana’s story has been published around the world in outlets like New York Times, BBC, Huffington Post, The Today Show, and more.