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Questions Every Gynecologist Should Be Able to Answer

We all know we should be setting aside time every month to check our 🍈🍈, but it doesn't mean we're always good at it.

This month, try scheduling it in the week after your period. Not only is this the time when your estrogen hormonal effects tend to be less noticeable on your breast tissue, but it'll also act as a natural way to keep track of the last time you did it.

Don't know how to perform a breast self exam? Dr Sherry walks us through it in our most recent blog post:

Raise your hand if you’ve got a million unanswered questions about your body.


Nipples.


Boobs.


Vaginas.


Vulvas.


WOW.


That’s a lot to keep track of - especially when any one (or all of them) start acting totally different than they typically do.


*cue the internet*


I know we’ve all logged onto Google at one point or another to try to figure out exactly what’s going on with our bodies, only to get a dozen different answers from a dozen different (mostly unreliable) sources. 


So you head to the doctor to get the real deal. But maybe your nerves kick in and you settle for an answer that really wasn’t even close to what you were looking for.


If this sounds all too familiar, don’t worry.


We got you.


Teaming up with our gyno guru, Dr. Sherry, we’ve compiled a list of commonly asked (and now answered) questions. So grab a beverage of your choice and get comfy, ‘cuz you’re gonna wanna stick around for this one.


How often should I do a breast self-exam?


You should start becoming familiar with your breasts in your teen years.


By doing breast self-exams from an early age, you not only arm yourself with knowledge, but may also find that you’re more successful in sticking to a monthly routine.


Speaking of monthly, you’ll want to set aside a minute to check your breasts every month during the week after your period. This is the time when your estrogen hormonal effects tend to be less noticeable on your breast tissue.


How do I do a breast self-exam?


It could be said that you and your breasts have had a bit of a long-term relationship, so it’s good to know that YOU are the most important person when it comes to identifying any changes that may be happening. Specifically when it comes to breast shape, size, skin changes or nipple discharge.


Aside from these more obvious changes, you’ll want to pay attention to any abnormal lumps or bumps.


Here’s how:


1. Stand in front of the mirror with your hands on your hips and take a good look. Notice anything different?


2. Raise your arms up over your head. Notice anything different now? Pay special attention to nipple shape and color.


3. Look to see if there’s any discharge or fluid coming from your nipples.


4. Check for lumps. To do this, lay on your back and put one hand over the top of the breast you’re examining. With your other hand, run your fingertips firmly over your breast tissue in a circular motion. Think of the breast as a plus (+) sign, purposefully feel each quarter. Once you’ve finished doing this with your breasts, move to your underarms and do the same.


5. Sit up (or stand) and check your breasts in a similar way as you did in step 4, but from this new position.


Pro Tip: Sometimes checking your breasts in the shower (when the skin is wet and slippery) can make identifying abnormalities easier.


How do I do a breast self-exam if I have breast implants?


You can go ahead and check your breasts the same way you would if you didn’t have implants. You may just want to ask your doctor or surgeon to show you where the edges of your implants are so you don’t mistaken them for an abnormality - though it’s recommended you visit your doctor if you feel anything of concern.


How do I do a breast self-exam after a mastectomy or top surgery?


You can go ahead and perform your exam the same way you would prior to your surgery. You may notice that the scar tissue can be hard and irregular, but once you become familiar with this area you’ll be able to identify whether it’s scarring or new changes to your breast tissue.


Speaking of breasts, what changes can I expect to them during pregnancy?


During pregnancy and breastfeeding, your breasts may become painful, swollen and enlarged - and can even increase by as much as two or three sizes. Once you’ve finished breastfeeding, they should reduce back in size.


I’ve just had a baby. When can I expect my period to return?


If you decide not to breastfeed, your period should return approximately six to eight weeks after delivery.


If you decide to breastfeed, your hormones will keep you from ovulating so you may not get your period for a few months after delivery. 


As you introduce your baby to other food sources, the amount of breastfeeding you do will decrease. This should trigger ovulation and the return of your periods.


What else can we expect during that postpartum period?


From the moment the baby delivers until your body fully recovers, you’re in what is sometimes referred to as the 4th Trimester, or the postpartum period. This time can be extremely overwhelming both emotionally and physically. 


While the first 6 weeks can be the most challenging, this period can last through the first year - though every person feels the length and intensity of this very differently. 


Due to hormonal havoc, up to 80% of new mothers may experience the ‘baby blues’ for a couple of weeks after delivery. During this time they may feel depressed, anxious, upset and even frustrated. Crying for no reason, sleepless nights and feeling like you aren’t thinking clearly are all common, but temporary and manageable.


However, 10 to 15% of new mothers may experience postpartum depression. For these, all of the feelings mentioned before are more intense and can be debilitating to the point of being unable to perform their daily routine, including caring for their new baby.


Symptoms of postpartum depression may include:


- Severe mood swings


- Intense irritability and anxiety


- Panic attacks


- Overwhelming sadness


- Uncontrollable crying