5 Ways to Have More Comfortable Mammograms

No More Painful Mammograms

Mammography
Science Photo Library/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

Do you dread your yearly mammogram? What if we told you it didn't have to be an uncomfortable experience? You might be relieved, because mammograms are a proven way to help catch breast cancer early, and yet some women skip them because they fear the pain and discomforted. Instead of skipping out, here are five things you can do to have more comfortable, less painful mammograms.

1. Schedule Strategically

Keep track of your periods and schedule your mammogram appointments accordingly.

Most women experience the least amount of breast tenderness during the first two weeks of their menstrual cycle, which means you would experience less discomfort from a mammogram during this time. Some women find that marking their cycle on their calendar, writing it in a journal or keeping a note in their cellphone can help them keep track of their flow.

2. Avoid Caffeine

Some women find that caffeine increases breast tenderness. Even small amounts of caffeine can have an effect. Even if you aren't sure if this is you, experiment with avoiding caffeine in the week leading up to your mammogram to see if it helps lower the pain you experience. Coffee, tea, soft drinks, sports drinks and chocolate are common sources of caffeine.

3. Consider OTC Painkillers

An over-the-counter painkiller such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen taken about an hour before your mammogram may help to reduce any pain or discomfort you may feel during the mammography procedure.

Taking OTC painkillers ahead of time is also a good way to prevent any discomfort you might normally feel following your mammogram.

4. Ask About Padding

Some mammogram centers offer padding designed to make your mammogram more comfortable. One example is the MammoPad, which is a soft, white, single-use foam pad that is invisible to X-rays.

It secures to the lower metal plate, providing a soft and warm spot for the technician to place your breast.

5. Try Numbing Gel

While it can be messy, numbing gel applied to the breast has been found to relieve pain from the pressure of mammograms. Lidocaine, a local anesthetic and antiarrhythmic drug, is one option. It can be used directly on your skin to help relieve itching, burning and skin inflammation, and can help with the pain associated with mammograms. It's the same formula your doctor or dentist might use to numb you before getting a tooth pulled or a minor surgery.

Check out these articles for more information to prepare for your mammogram:

Having a Mammogram: What You Need to Know

Lidocaine Gel Eases Mammogram Pain

Mammogram Images, Descriptions and Details

Understanding Your Mammogram Report

What Breast Calcifications Mean On Your Mammogram

When and How Often Should I Get Mammograms?

Continue Reading