Breast Exams

Often, one of the first signs that puberty is beginning is breast development Most breasts start to develop before the first period begins. During puberty, breasts go through regular changes. As you grow and develop, you may notice small soft or more solid lumps and other changes in your breasts, and during your period, you may find your breasts are sensitive and tender. Most of these developments are totally normal. If you are ever concerned, a health care professional can help answer your questions.

Breasts are all different. Some are large. Some are small. Some sit up high. Some hang down lower. Often one is slightly bigger than the other. Sometimes one can be noticeably bigger than the other. Getting comfortable with the look and feel of your breasts will help you recognize anything unusual for you.

Why Do I Need Breast Exams?

If you go for a full checkup with a doctor, he or she will likely examine your breasts to evaluate your development and ensure that all changes are normal. As you get older, your Dr or nurse may suggest that you get into the practice of examining your breasts yourself — called a breast self-examination (BSE) — and can show you how to do this.

A BSE can help women detect cysts or other benign (noncancerous) breast problems between checkups. It can also help some women detect breast cancer — a disease that’s extremely rare among teens.

It’s easy to perform a breast self-examination, and it only takes a few minutes. Although it might seem strange or inconvenient at first, BSE is a skill you can use throughout your life to help ensure good breast health.

During a breast exam, you may be asked to lie on your back without your bra underneath the paper gown or sheet. You may be asked to sit up and lift your arms above your head. You’ll have the paper sheet or gown covering you, and the doctor will only uncover the parts of your body being examined. The doctor will give you a breast exam by lightly pressing on different parts of your breasts. After finishing, he or she may show you how to examine your own breasts. This helps you become familiar with how your breasts feel so you know which lumps are normal and which may be the result of a change.