My First Mammogram

I turned 40 at the beginning of this blog (making it sound like 40 is somehow the blog’s fault). Here in United StatesLand, women are supposed to get their first mammograms at 40 if they haven’t had one already. It used to be 35 and that was called your “base mammogram” but, apparently, too many breasts were still too full of breastliness and so medical professionals upped it to 40 when our breasts have really started to deteriorate. Or so I’m assuming.

Anyhow, like so many other women going in for their first mammograms, I was treated to a platter full of war stories. Several of my moms (I have many) told me that mammograms are almost as bad as giving birth in a Saharan dust storm with the assistance of hungry lions. At least, that’s what I thought I heard as I listened to their, “Oh, it hurts SO BADLY and I ALMOST DIED!” tales.

This is what I was hearing.

This is what I was hearing.

Thus, it was with some trepidation I entered the examining room and stood before the x-ray machine. Imagine my surprise when the whole procedure took all of two minutes and that included the moving and shifting and getting all four pictures. In fact, the actual squishing and photographing of my breasts took less than 30 seconds.

As soon as I was finished, I thought, “Huh. That wasn’t fun by any stretch. I don’t want to do it every day. But it also wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d been told. I’ve suffered much worse.” I had to tell Facebook about my experience ASAP.

I said: As far as Milestones of Womanhood go, the first mammogram is waaay easier than the first period and the first attempt at sex. It’s also less messy than the first kiss, though the fondling and squishing are about the same. The only thing for which I was not prepared was the odd positions I had to adopt to stand in front of the machine; I briefly regretted not taking Modern Dance in college.
So, old ladies? STOP telling horror stories about mammograms. It may have been torture back in the day and I’m sure it’s unpleasant if your boobs are on the small side but it is NOT the torture you people (MOM) made it out to be.

This is pretty much what I went through. Mostly.

This is pretty much what I went through. Mostly.

My status then started a conversation (Gabe and I are always amazed at which things we say online bring on the commentary) and while most women my age were “meh” about it  (it hurts but it’s such a short amount of time that who cares? or It wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d expected) there were several who said it causes them great pain and trauma, or has had in the past.

So I thought about it. Did it really hurt me? No. It was an awfully irritating full-on pinch and had someone done that to me outside of a doctor’s office, I’d have screamed at that person and punched him/her. Probably him. But it didn’t leave me wanting to cry. But COULD it have hurt me? Why, yes, I imagine it could have. For instance, had I gone in too close to a period when my boobs were sore and aching, it would have been more than unpleasant. If my breasts were small, it would have hurt more because all that pulling to get one into the grips and then the smooshing to keep it in place and what with there being no fat for cushioning? Yeah, that would hurt. If I had a low tolerance for pain, I’d have left the place in tears. But none of those things were true for me, thus, the experience wasn’t bad.

If you’re going in for your first mammogram and you’re freaking out about it because everyone says it’s going to make you die, don’t worry. It won’t make you die. It might hurt. It might even be awful. But it’s super-fast. It may be embarrassing if you’re not comfortable showing bare breasts to lab technicians and equipment but it’s not going to be mortifying. They’ve seen this all before.

Kotex put together a quick little list of things to think about when going in for your first mammogram. I’d be interested to hear other people’s advice.
And horror stories. But they have to be true. You can’t make crap up to scare the incoming mammogram generation. This isn’t a hazing ritual, people.


Filed under Adventures, In someone else's backyard, My Opinions on STUFF

14 responses to “My First Mammogram

  1. AH! I have teeny tiny titties, so now I’m kind of not looking forward to that even more than I already wasn’t! It is good to know, however, that it’s not quite the torturous tale that has been told by mothers and grandmothers for generations.
    I love your pictures. Those are freaking awesome!

    Also, I need an address to send your prize to for my alien contesty thing. Send it to me at

    • Yeah, it’s going to be pinchy and painful for you but you’ve had children cut out of your body. I’m pretty sure this will be a lot less painful. And it’s so fast. Just…make sure to stretch beforehand. There’s no telling what odd positions you’ll be asked to perform. You’d think they’d pay YOU to do this, not the other way around.
      I’m wearing hooker heels next time…just so it all looks more professional.

  2. I agree that it is not the most comfortable thing in the world, but it is not that bad. Still, I never thought that my breasts could be contorted into that position! Then, I wonder how women with implants manage to get through this without all the extra breastness squirting out, LOL!

    • ekgo

      RIGHT? I was wondering the same thing! Do they just have the magic wand ultrasound treatment around the boob? And does that send back a funny sound like when you put your lips to Jell-O and talk? It almost makes me want to find someone with implants so I can ask if I can go in with her when she has her mammogram!

  3. Aw man! I started reading this thinking, “Oh yay, it’s not going to be so bad.” and then I got to the part about small boobs. I’m a small chested gal, so I’ve always wondered how they were even going to get anything to smoosh anyway. Like, couldn’t I just lay flat against a machine, or just push myself up against it really hard? I think that’d be easier (and maybe even more possible) than actually grabbing my boob between two hard slabs. But eh, I’ve still got a few years to wait. Glad to hear yours wasn’t so bad.

    • I have more than enough boob and the tech was still pushing me into the machine. Oddly, then she’d try to flatten my stomach so she could push further. So, yeah, you’ll be pushed, I’m sure. Zey haf zeyr wayz.
      Maybe you could get nipple rings and they can pull those? Though, now that I actually think about it, that probably wouldn’t be any more comfortable.

  4. This is funny/reassuring, because everyone tells me horror stories. When my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, I wanted to have a mammogram at 25… because watching the people you love fight cancer will do that to you. They said I couldn’t have one then, because my breast tissue was “too dense.” I didn’t buy it at the time, but 8 years later, and one breast feeding kid, my boobs are a little squishier. But this is all good to know! I’ll totally plan my mammo for the FURTHER point from my period, and see how it goes!! Huh. Wow. It would be another 2 years at the earliest for me. Wow. Time flies…

    • Yeah, you’ll be fine. You’ll be so disappointed that all those horror stories were outrageous lies. Even if it’s the most painful thing ever (and I’m thinking recovering from a hole in your stomach where a child was removed is probably more painful than a mammogram), it only lasts a few seconds!
      I got the “dense breast” thing, too, when I wanted my first mammogram…also because of cancer, by the way. Because, as you said, it’s just what you do.

  5. Miriam

    I don’t think I have enough boob to smoosh as per your illustrations.

    Re: the upping the age to 40 things, I think that was really a ploy on the part of HMOs to save money by doing fewer exams.

  6. I pissed myself* at that first brilliant illustration… ever thought about doing children’s books?
    *pissed myself LAUGHING, that is…

    • I kind of hoped my drawring scared you so badly, you peed. But making you piss yourself with laughter is good, too.
      I don’t think there’s a market for breast cancer screening books for children…but I’ll look into that.

      • I was thinking more along the lines of a childrens book like “Go The Fuck To Sleep”, or “Curious George and The High Voltage Fence.”

        • Oh. Yes, I might be able to do something like that. Curious George is trademarked but could parody the hell out of that monkey and get away with it!
          This is a good backup plan in case I ever lose my job.

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