Your First Mammogram: What to Expect

Dec 15, 2023

For women over 40, mammograms are a crucial aspect of preventive care to protect your health and well-being. If you're scheduled for your first mammogram, it's natural to feel a mix of emotions — curiosity, anxiety, or even a bit of apprehension.

That's why at Oakland Macomb Obstetrics & Gynecology, our team of experts pride themselves on providing a supportive environment and ensuring your first mammogram experience is as comfortable and stress-free as possible.

In this post, we explain the procedure, why it's necessary, and what you can expect from the process.

What is a mammogram?

A mammogram is an X-ray image of the breast. It's a vital tool in early breast cancer detection, as it can identify tumors that are too small to be felt. 

Screening mammograms are routinely recommended for women, typically starting around age 40. In some cases, we advise earlier screening due to increased risk factors.

Mammograms can detect breast cancer early, often years before physical symptoms develop. Early detection significantly increases the chances of successful treatment, making regular mammograms essential to every woman's health care.

Before the appointment

We advise you to schedule your mammogram for a time when your breasts are least likely to be tender, such as a week after your menstrual period. This timing helps minimize discomfort during the mammogram.

To prepare, avoid using deodorants, antiperspirants, powders, or lotions on your breasts or underarms on the day of the exam, as these can appear as white spots on the X-ray.

Also, wear comfortable, two-piece clothing to easily undress from the waist up.

During the appointment

Upon your arrival, you’re greeted by our staff, who understands that getting your first mammogram can be a bit frightening. We provide you with a gown and direct you to a private room for your mammogram.

 

Next, our radiologic technologist positions your breast on the mammogram machine and compresses it between two plates for a few seconds while X-rays capture images. The technologist repositions each breast between the plates to capture different angles.

The compression may cause some discomfort, which is normal and brief. It's necessary to ensure clear images.

After the mammogram

When we have the results, we communicate with you promptly, usually within a few days of your appointment. 

Normal results mean we found no signs of cancer. An abnormal result doesn't necessarily mean you have cancer, but we may recommend another mammogram or additional tests like an ultrasound or a biopsy.

Is the radiation exposure from mammograms safe?

Yes, the level of radiation in standard mammograms is extremely low and considered safe. Let us reassure you: The benefits outweigh any possible harm from such low radiation exposure.

How long does the procedure take?

The appointment typically lasts about 30 minutes, with the actual mammogram process taking only a few minutes. This includes time for changing, the procedure itself, and any additional instructions or questions you might have.

Getting your first mammogram is a step toward taking control of your health. At Oakland Macomb Obstetrics & Gynecology, we're committed to making your mammogram experience as comfortable and reassuring as possible. 

Book your first mammogram with us by scheduling an appointment online or calling one of our offices in Rochester Hills, Lenox, or Troy, Michigan.