Mammogram Discomfort: Will it hurt?

At the UVA Breast Care Program, we understand that, whether this is your first time or your twelfth time getting a mammogram, you can be a little nervous in anticipation. We are no strangers to questions about mammogram discomfort, and we hope the following information puts your mind more at ease.

There’s often not a way around this: you will probably feel some discomfort during your mammogram. It can be an uncomfortable experience for some women but that doesn’t necessarily mean mammograms will cause you pain.

Of course, mammogram experiences are as diverse as the women who get them so the stories you’ve heard from your sister-in-law or your coworker won’t necessarily happen to you. Your mammogram will be unique to you, and your level of discomfort will also be unique.

There are many different thoughts out there about what exactly factors into mammogram discomfort, the most common being:

  • Breast size (larger breasts can be harder to fit in the machines)
  • Skill of technician (the technician dictates the experience in most cases)
  • Anxiety about the exam (when you are nervous, your muscles can tense up)
  • Timing in relation to menstrual cycle (breasts are more sensitive the week before and during your period)

Here at UVA, we try to help with the factors we can control. We have certified, expert technologists who not only know what they’re doing, but also do it with compassion and sensitivity to each patient’s needs or worries. We work with you to determine the best time to schedule your mammogram, help you feel comfortable with your technologist, and ease your exam anxiety.

Here are some tips to help you get more comfy for your mammogram:

(Text only version)

An infographic describing how to reduce mammogram discomfortAlthough mammograms can be uncomfortable, the benefits of annual screening are well worth the momentary discomfort. Thank you for taking this big step in self-care.

If you are still nervous about mammogram discomfort, knowledge is power. Learn what you can expect for your mammogram or read this resource about mammogram discomfort. You can also read about breast cancer screening and mammography at UVA. Or, just give us a call at 434.924.1555.

Infographic Text: Getting Comfy, Reducing Mammogram Discomfort
Talk to Your Tech
  • You are in charge of your mammogram. If it becomes painful, ask your technologist to reposition you into a less uncomfortable position. You can also ask them questions!
Cut Caffeine
  • Avoid caffeinated drinks the day of your appointment.
Remember Why
  • Remembering why you are there makes any discomfort worth it.
Strategic Scheduling
  • Try to schedule your appointment a week after your period when your breast tissue will be least sensitive.
Make It a Date
  • Have a close friend who might also need a mammogram? Schedule your appointments together, and support each other through the day!
  • Try to relax before your appointment so that you aren’t tense.
Skin-numbing Products
  • Try applying skin numbing products.

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