How Often Should You Get a Mammogram?

No one looks forward to getting their first mammogram, but at some point, you reach an age where you knowyou can't put it off any longer. 

But once you start, how often should you get a mammogram?

The answer might not be as often as you think. Mammograms are quick, so they don't suck a lot of time out of your already busy schedule.

We've put together this guide to help you learn more about when to start getting mammograms, how often to get them, and what to expect before, during, and after the procedure. Make sure you keep reading below for some important health tips.

Women's Health 101: When Should You Start Getting Mammograms? 

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. There are a number of factors that can make the right starting point look a little different for every woman. For example, some of them include: 

  1. Your risk factors
  2. Your age 
  3. Your personal preference 

It's a good idea to talk to your doctor about your risk of developing breast cancer and when mammograms will benefit you. However, most medical professionals recommend scheduling an appointment for your first mammogram when you're between the ages of 40 and 44. Once you turn 45, it is important to make sure you get regular mammograms.

How Often Should You Get a Mammogram?

Most women won't have to get more than one mammogram a year, but that isn't always the case. Again, the best way to figure out when and how frequently to get a mammogram is to discuss the issue with your doctor. They will help you put together a schedule that's best for your health. 

Here's a rough guide about how often you should expect to get a mammogram: 

  1. Ages40 to 45: once a year 
  2. Ages 45 to 54: once a year 
  3. Ages 55 and older: twice a year 

After the age of 55, you should continue getting mammograms twice a year as long as you're in good health. Senior women who aren't expected to live more than a few years may not need to keep getting this type of breast cancer screening. 

Keep in mind, though, that this is just a rough guide. You may need to get mammograms more often (or less often) depending on your personal health. This is especially true if you are at a higher than average riskof developing breast cancer. 

What to Expect During Your First Mammogram 

We all like to keep our kitchens clean and tidy, but there are places food can hang out that you might not if you're getting ready for your first mammogram appointment, there's no reason to worry about it. The procedure is a fairly quick and simple one. In most cases, you'll be in and out of the doctor's office in about 15 minutes. 

Before the Appointment 

Make sure you don't wear any type of lotions, oils, deodorants, etc. the day of the appointment. These products can interfere with the machine and mess up the results. You may have to return for a second mammogram later if this happens. 

It's also a good idea to wear loose, comfortable clothing. You want to be able to remove it easily, and cozy clothes will help you stay relaxed as you wait for the mammogram to start.

During the Appointment

When you arrive at the doctor's office, you will receive a gown and be asked to undress from the waist up. The gown will keep you covered up until the procedure so you feel more comfortable. 

A technician will then take you to a machine and position your breasts (one at a time) between two plastic plates. The machine will apply pressure to your breasts to flatten them, which spreads out the tissue and provides better x-ray images. While they are pressed flat, the technician will take several pictures of your breasts from different angles. 

This should only take a few seconds to complete. 

After this, you'll be able to head home. In most cases, the radiologist won't examine the images while you're still there. Instead, they'll do this later and get in touch with you to let you know the results. 

After the Appointment 

You'll receive the results of your mammogram within a few days or weeks after the appointment. That's likely to be the end of your mammogram experience until the next year. However, if you have an abnormal mammogram, you might have to go back to the doctor's office for more tests. 

Don't panic, though. 

An abnormal mammogram doesn't mean you have cancer. In fact, most people who have abnormal mammograms never develop cancer.

Does a Mammogram Hurt?

A mammogram certainly isn't comfortable. However, you shouldn't be in much pain during the procedure. The pressure applied to your breasts may hurt for a few seconds, but it should be bearable. 

It's also normal to experience soreness after the procedure. Your breasts may feel sensitive for a few days after the mammogram, but this discomfort should fade in a few days. If it doesn't go away, make sure you give your doctor a call.

Healthcare in Miami: Scheduling Your Next Mammogram

So how often should you get a mammogram?

It depends on the specifics of your personal health, but in general, you should plan to get a mammogram every year after the age of 40. Are you looking for doctors in Miami that can administer your next mammogram? 

Don't hesitate to get in touch with our team at Choice MD today. We'll help you schedule your appointment, walk you through the procedure, and be with you through every step of your health journey.