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    How do you perform a breast check? What are some things you should look out for? How can you tell the difference between lymph nodes and a breast lump?


    There used to be a lot of detailed instructions about how women should examine their breasts, but research has shown that the most important thing is to just be familiar with how your breasts usually look and feel so that you notice any changes!

    We now recommend breast awareness which simply means looking at your breasts in the mirror and feeling them all over (from collarbone to below the bra line & into the armpit). 

    Things to look out for include:

    • Lumps, hard knots or thickening
    • Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening
    • Change in the size or shape of the breast
    • Dimpling or puckering of the skin
    • Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple
    • Pulling in of your nipple or other parts of the breast
    • Nipple discharge that starts suddenly
    • New pain in one spot that doesn’t go away

    Having any of these symptoms doesn’t mean there’s definitely something seriously wrong. Some changes can be hormonal or due to mild infections, but always a good idea to have a GP take a look for peace of mind!


    When is the best time to check?


    @mak_trouble891 It’s great to do it throughout the month so you get used to the normal changes that happen in your cycle, but a few days after your period is when your breasts will be least swollen and maybe easier to feel deeply without discomfort.

    Another question related to boobs, do breasts ever stop growing?

    @mak_trouble891 breasts usually finish developing in late teens, but they will continue to change throughout a lifetime! Breast size and shape is effected by hormone changes (e.g. in pregnancy or at menopause) as well as weight loss/gain and changes in muscle tone. 


    @Nurse_Nettie – why did mine grow (in cup size) quite exponentially when I gained weight (unhealthy size 8 to comfortable 12 over a couple of years)… but when I lost a crap load of weight after first being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes they only shrank a teeny little bit (like not even a whole cup size)?


    @MsBlueStreak I can’t tell you exactly why you didn’t lose the same amount of weight you’d gained in your boobs. Sounds like more than just weight gain & loss was at play. Our bodies are complex and not always completely symmetrical in the way they look or behave!


    Why do I gain pains in my boobs?


    @mak_trouble891 There are lots of reason a person can get pain in their breasts: injury, infection, hormone surge before your period or in pregnancy — even a bad-fitting bra! For more info about breast pain, check out this info from Family Planning Australia!


    Performing a breast self-examination (BSE) can be an important way to detect changes or lumps in the breast. Here are the steps for performing a BSE:

    Begin by looking at your breasts in the mirror. Look for any changes in size, shape, or color. Look for dimpling or puckering of the skin, or any changes in the nipple or areola. Check for any discharge or bleeding from the nipple.

    Raise your arms above your head and look for the same changes as above.

    Use your fingers to feel the breast tissue. You can do this in the shower, lying down, or standing up. Use the pads of your fingers to gently press and feel the breast tissue in a circular motion. Move in an up and down pattern, covering the entire breast area, including the armpit.

    You should also check for lumps under the armpit, as there are lymph nodes in that area.

    When performing a BSE, there are several things to look out for. These include:

    Lumps or thickening in the breast tissue
    Changes in the size or shape of the breast
    Changes in the texture or color of the skin or nipple
    Nipple discharge or bleeding
    Pain or tenderness in the breast or nipple
    It is important to note that some lumps may be benign, such as cysts or fibroadenomas. However, any new lump or change in the breast should be evaluated by a healthcare professional.

    Lymph nodes can be felt under the armpit and can be distinguished from breast tissue. Lymph nodes feel like small, round, movable bumps, while breast tissue feels more glandular and soft. Lymph nodes may become swollen or tender in response to infection or other conditions, so it is important to be familiar with what is normal for your body and to have any changes evaluated by a healthcare professional.



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