Your First Mammogram: What to Expect and How to Prepare

September 26 • 2023

An Aylo nurse is standing next to a patient who is getting her mammogram.

We know it can be nerve-racking not knowing what the mammogram process is like. And as women, we all know how important it is to get an annual mammogram once you turn 40. But what should you expect? How do you even prepare?  

Don’t worry, we’ve got some helpful information that will help guide you through the mammogram process.  

Preparing for Your First Mammogram:  

When to Schedule?  

Consider scheduling your screening a week before or after your menstrual cycle when your breasts are less tender. This will help avoid discomfort during the exam.  

What to Tell Your Technologist:  

  • If you are pregnant or think you might be pregnant
  • If you’re currently breastfeeding  
  • If you’ve got breast implants 
  • If you’re having trouble standing or holding still  
  • If you think there is something abnormal with your breasts 

It’s important to have an open and honest conversation with your technologist and let them know how you’re really feeling. Our Aylo Health technologists are there to support you through this process. Don’t let anything get in the way of open communication about your body.  

What to Wear:  

You’ll want to wear comfortable clothes for your exam. You’ll be removing all your clothing from the waist up, so you may want to avoid wearing any one-piece outfits.  

Avoid Wearing Deodorant, Powder, Perfume, or Lotion:  

These products contain metallic ingredients and can interfere with quality diagnosis and image quality.  

Avoid Wearing Jewelry:  

It’s best not to wear any jewelry on the day of your scheduled exam, since you will have to remove it. This will help ensure you don’t lose or forget anything. 

Future Considerations:  

It’s important for your doctors to be able to compare past exams so they can ensure nothing has changed with your breasts. So, if you go to a different imaging facility in the future, make sure to send those images to the new facility you are scheduled at. 

What to Expect During Your First Mammogram: 

Being Asked About Personal/Family History:  

Your technologist will ask you about your personal and family history of breast cancer. If you have any questions or concerns you have been having regarding your breasts, now is the time to tell your technologist. This is a safe and open discussion between you and your technologist, to make you feel comfortable during the process. 

Removal of Clothing:  

Like we mentioned in the above section, prepare to be asked to remove all your clothing from the waist up. You will be given a robe to wear after you remove your clothing. 

The Exam:  

The technologist will make sure to go over all the positions you will be put in, the expectations, and pain tolerance before performing the exam.  

Lynn, one of our Aylo Health mammographers, ensures her patients before their mammogram that “before we begin taking images, I will go over the machine, show you and tell you exactly what we’ll be doing today.”  

The technologist will position your breast between the imaging plates while an image is taken. Your breast will be compressed for about 10-15 seconds. This will be done for each breast. Some women might feel some discomfort, tell your technologist right away if the discomfort is too painful. Your technologist will be able to adjust and make you feel comfortable. 

How Long the Process Takes:  

The whole exam process can take anywhere from 10-30 minutes from the consultation to the mammogram scanning. You won’t know your results right away, as they need to be reviewed by a radiologist. 

Reviewing the Results:  

It can take anywhere from 7-10 days to get your mammogram results back. At Aylo Health we will mail you a letter with your results. Your results will be very detailed about each category of the mammogram.  

If our radiologist finds an area of interest that requires additional imaging, we will contact you by phone and a diagnostic mammogram will be scheduled. If further evaluation is needed after the diagnostic mammogram, you’ll have a breast ultrasound during the same appointment. The radiologist will review the imaging while you are still at the office, and you will get the results before you leave. The radiologist will determine the next steps based on the findings of the diagnostic visit and you’ll be advised of what to do next. Getting a call back and waiting for test results can be frightening. Don’t let that stop you from scheduling your follow-up, remember that the benefits of screening outweigh the risks. 

The bottom line is that getting a mammogram doesn’t have to be something that you are anxious about or something that you keep putting off.  

We get it, there’s always the chance of getting bad news. It’s completely normal to feel that way, but don’t let fear or dread keep you from scheduling your mammogram. The real scare is delaying and avoiding your mammogram screening, which in the end only delays detection.  

So, what are you waiting for?  

Take a deep breath and schedule your mammogram with Aylo Health today!

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