We talk about boobs a lot here at betty, but we haven’t actually spoken about how to do one of the most important things: fondle your tits. (The more scientific phrase is obviously: how to examine your breasts, but that doesn’t sound as exciting.)
So, here’s the lowdown on how to check your boobs and why you need to do it. By the end of this, you’ll have monthly reminders on your phone. We bet you 50p.
I’m only a teenager, why do I need to check my boobs?!
Right?! We hear you. If you’re still a teenager, or even young adult, then what’s the point of checking your boobs for anything nasty?
The facts state that developing breast cancer in your teenage years is ‘extremely rare’ and it’s still even ‘uncommon’ when you’re in your 20s and 30s. The NHS doesn’t start sending ‘COME AND GET YOUR BOOBS CHECKED’ letters until you’re 50, which is the age (and above) at which most breast cancers are diagnosed.
BUT, nevertheless, it’s good to get the practice in. It’s easy, quick, and free, so why not start a routine of checking?
Also, you might not find anything cancer-related but you might just find something else. There are many different types of breast lumps and most of them aren’t malignant (cancer). Benign breast lumps are non-cancerous and come in many shapes and sizes, and many different ages.
One example is a fibroadenoma. They’re lumps that can grow thanks to your hormones (surprise surprise), can be quite common to find during puberty/as a young woman, and aren’t dangerous, but can hurt if they’re sizeable and can be removed. (Spoiler: I had two when I was 20!)
How do I check them properly?
Some basic pointers are:
Check them in the shower! While you’re naked, get touchy feely too. Two birds (blue tits, obvs), one stone.
But if you do check in the shower then make sure you actually use your hands and not a scrunchie thing. You need those fingers to properly prod about.
For checking not-in-the-shower, you can start by standing front of a mirror with your hands on your hips, looking like a strong, empowering badass. Have a good ol’ gander at your boobs to see if anything’s changed since the last time you checked.
Then, THROW YOUR ARMS IN THE AIR LIKE YOU JUST DON’T CARE and have another look. This is basically the natural way of grabbing your boobs and lifting them up to check from a different angle.
Have a nice lie down. Your boobs will flop like pancakes down on your chest. This is one of the best ways to check for actual lumps. Just give your boobs a gentle prod around using a couple of fingers.
Don’t panic if you DO feel some lumps and bumps. All boobs are lumpy (or ‘nodular’ to be scientific) with milk-making bits and fatty bits, but you’re looking for any differences, either between your two boobs or from the last time you checked. Keep a tit diary!
What am I actually looking for when I’m checking?
You’re not checking for just lumps and bumps. Other signs of mischief can be:
Changes in texture. Look for any dimples, where the skin goes in a bit like a mini-crater.
Swelling. There might not be any actual lumps, but check for any general swelling or redness.
Pain. Some pain is normal, especially in the week of your period, but if you’re in pain all the damn time, or it’s getting worse, then there could be an issue.
Discharge. Are your nipples leaking? They shouldn’t be, so have a check.
Changes in shape and size. Not everyone’s boobs are identical and that’s totally fine, but if one boob has suddenly changed in shape or size so the other one is like ‘u ok hun’ then there could be something up.
Changes in nipples (inversion or direction). The same goes for your nipples. If one has suddenly dived headfirst into your boob then definitely question that.
Rashes or crusting. It sounds gross but please don’t ignore wild rashes or crusty nipples! Be brave and flop that boob out to your GP.
Remember, you’re always looking for differences. Checking your boobs from now on will make you more aware of what your normal boobage is, so you notice any differences better in the future.
I think I’ve found something weird, what do I do now?!
DO NOT GOOGLE. Ya hear? Don’t do it. Step away. Put the phone down. It’s not worth it.
The best thing to do is to see your doctor. No shockers there. Don’t be worried about what they might say – remember that in all likelihood, it’s fine. The stats are on your side. There are a load of reasons why your tits are titting about. Grab a family member or good friend and make that appointment.
You can always read our article on how to talk to your doctor about embarrassing stuff if you’re flapping!
Do you owe us 50p now?
It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome.
Image: Katie Edmunds