35 answers

First-time Mammogram

Hi everyone - I just made an appointment for my first mammogram (nothing is wrong, it's just a baseline) and am really nervous about it. I'm not sure what to expect, how much it will hurt, how long the x-rays will take (i.e. how long is your boob actually squeezed thin, which I've heard is the painful part). Then of course I'm nervous about getting the results too. Can anyone share with me their experiences? I know it will hurt, but just don't know how bad this is going to be...

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What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you to everyone for your help! I had my appointment and honestly - it was not bad at all! There was pressure and some discomfort but I wouldn't even call it pain. The anticipation was much worse. Thanks again for helping me calm my nerves!

Featured Answers

Hi S.,
I have a few jokes, (not what you to hear!) It is not as bad as everyone says, just a little uncomfortable. Get it done, you will be happy you did!

I just had a colonoscpy done and the doctor said, "I don't want to see you for 10 years". I am 55 years old.

Just get it done. You will be happy you did !

Lucy B.


I just had my first one and it was not bad at all.I was also quite worried and nervous,but found it a short and unpleasant experience,but since I had worst expectations,it felt nothing.:-)

I don't have any great advise or experience, but I'm right there with you! I have my first scheduled for next week. Just one of the fun parts of getting older... :)

More Answers

Piece of cake and doesn't hurt. However, as Catherine A. says, don't look at it. You'll think you're going to be National Geographic's next cover model. Surprisingly, they rebound.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi, S. W--

Attached below is an article about mammogram and an excerpt from the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Also, a comment from Dr. Joseph Mercola.

Mammograms Don't Save Lives

Adding an annual mammogram to a careful physical examination of the breasts does not improve breast cancer survival rates over getting the examination alone, new research reports. This finding is particularly important since annual mammograms, beginning as early as age 40, is an almost universal practice.

Interestingly, although mammography does leads to the discovery of smaller, earlier stage tumors, it still does not improve breast cancer survival rates over examination alone.

One possible reason for a lack of survival benefit from mammograms "is that treatment of breast cancer has improved to such an extent that there is no longer any benefit from screening," the study's authors report. In addition, the results "suggest another option for screening women over the age of 50 years: annual physical examination and the teaching of breast self-examination by skilled health professionals."

The Canadian National Breast Screening Study-2 (CNBSS-2) has been following more than 39,000 women assigned either to annual physical examination or examination plus mammography since the mid-1980s.

Now, in the latest of an ongoing series of updates, the authors report the results 11 to 16 years after the start of the study.

Mammography continues to offer earlier detection, however. According to the report, mammography plus physical examination provides a 3.6-year advantage in detection-time over no screening, whereas physical examination provides only a 1.5 year advantage.

Consistent with this 2.1-year lead-time advantage, tumors detected by mammography plus physical examination tend to be smaller and are less likely to have spread to the lymph nodes, the researchers report. Unfortunately, the investigators admit, these apparent advantages do not translate into an increased survival rate for women screened with mammography plus physical examination.

Journal of the National Cancer Institute September 20, 2000;92:1490-1499

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Well now, here we have it: mammograms don't work. This is not published in some "rinky-dink" journal or press release. This is from the National Cancer Institute. Their analysis confirms what we have suspected for some time, that mammograms are not a good idea.

Most physicians recommend them for fear of being sued by a woman who developed breast cancer after which he did not advise her to get one. Now natural medicine physicians can rest comfortably and encourage women to get a thorough breast examination for abnormalities, as well as perform frequent self-examinations.

It is interesting how mammograms can be found to provide absolutely no benefit, yet it is the"standard of care" of mainstream medicine. "Quackbusters" like Stephen Barrett love to jump on alternative medical practices as essentially being worthless, yet I don't hear him referring to the tens of thousands of doctors ordering mammograms as "quacks." If this same exact study had come out with similar results for an alternative practice such as chelation, he and the government would be looking to shut down alternative medical practices across the country.

E. C

1 mom found this helpful

Breast cancer is more painful and lasts longer....Just a thought to ponder.

1 mom found this helpful

Dear S.,
Thanks for reminding me! It's time for me to have a mammo.
I had my first mammo fairly young, 30, but I had lumps which turned out to be caused by an infection, if you can believe that. I was scared out of my wits, but I was glad to get the results and know all was fine.
My first mother in law had always told me how horrible they were and she had to take a valium beforehand and she could barely stand the pain and it was traumatizing and humiliating to have someone seeing her breasts...
She was a full on whack job!
It was nothing like she said it would be and not horrible at all. The woman was so nice and kind and gentle, she explained everything before we started, she was an angel. And yes...it's dealing with someone seeing your boobs, but all women have them and if you've nursed a kid or two, who HASN'T seen your boobs?
The only thing I would like to say is that I'm thin and I have small breasts and the hardest part was having my ribs up against the thing while they tried to get some boob in the machine. It wasn't really unpleasant, I wasn't in pain and it only took a few minutes. My doctor called me with the results the next day.
I guess everyone's experiences are different, but my mom and sister have huge breasts and say their mammos don't hurt them either.
I think you'll be fine. Relax. Let us know how it goes for you.

Best wishes!

Hi S.,
I'm glad you wrote in! It doesn't really hurt, actually. The entire procedure is not fun but not painful. You will be led back into an area where you will have a little locker and be asked to put on one of those hospital gowns, then you will sit in a room of similar women and wait for your name to be called. When you go in, the radiologist will put your breast between two plates and the machine will lower itself so your breast looks more like a pancake than you ever thought possible. Then, the radiologist will manually tighten the plates even more so your breast tissue is as flat as possible. Then she will tell you not to move (ha ha - mine really did tell me that...where was I going to go?) and then she will do her thing of taking the pictures. This part will last no more than 30 seconds. Then she'll do the other side. On a level between 0 and 10, 10 being the most pain, I would say this will not be higher than a level 2 - mostly uncomfortable, not really painful. Please let me know if I can answer any other questions you have.

Dear S.,
I just had my first mammogramm taken this spring and I too had heard that it hurt. but it didn't. It was quick, painless and easy. I worried too much about it. The result is probably the thing most worth worrying about. I came out normal and had I known before how simple it would be... So just let you know that.

I have had 15 mammograms and they may be slightly uncomfortable, but there is NOTHING to be frightended of...the staff have always been very helpful and professional.

It probably takes about 5 to 10 minutes, once you are in the actual xray room.

You are probably 35 to get your first, so your dr is just taking really good care to make sure you are doing well and will always be healthy enough to be a great mom.

Good Luck!

I don't have any great advise or experience, but I'm right there with you! I have my first scheduled for next week. Just one of the fun parts of getting older... :)

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