Is a Mammogram Painful?

Mammogram machine at Botsford Breast Center

Laura Caruso, mammography coordinator at Botsford Breast Center, says the mammogram machine is nothing to be feared.

Getting an annual mammogram is a very important way of life for most women over the age of 40 (talk to your doctor about what is right for you).  However, some women fear their first mammogram because they think it will be painful.  In fact, one of the most common questions we get from patients before they get their mammogram is:  “Is a mammogram painful?”

So we talked to Laura Caruso, a mammography coordinator at Botsford Breast Center, to get answers.

The truth is, Laura explained, is that mammograms can feel different for each person and depend on a number of factors.  About 99% of Laura’s patients say their mammogram didn’t hurt at all!  Sometimes they say there was some discomfort, sort like that of a blood pressure cuff.  In the past, mammograms may have been more painful due to the older technology used. But today’s digital equipment allows images to be taken without as much pressure needed on the breast – so there’s not as much squeezing.

Your mammogram tech will personalize your mammogram to minimize any anxiety or pain and improve your overall experience.  Each of the factors below is considered when your mammogram tech personalizes your exam, but there are also some things you can do to minimize mammogram pain.

  • Caffeine – it exacerbates the feeling of fullness of dense breasts and triggers cysts to be active.  If you notice that your breasts are tender after you’ve had caffeine (for example if it is painful to hug) cut out caffeine for up to a week before your mammogram appointment.
  • Type of breast tissue – fibroglandular breast tissue is a little more sensitive than fatty tissue.  You can’t do anything about the type of tissue you have but that’s something that a mammography tech will take into consideration when she personalizes your mammogram.
  • Time of cycle – your breasts may be more sensitive just before your menstrual cycle so schedule your mammogram appointment for after that time of the month.
  • Fear – if you’re afraid of getting a mammogram you’ll be tense and the feeling from every touch is exaggerated.  So relax!  Don’t think too much about the procedure and know that it really doesn’t hurt.  Remember, 99% of our patients say their mammogram didn’t hurt.

“I challenge anyone who says mammograms are too painful to come see me for your own personalized mammogram,” Laura says.  No matter what is going on in your life, a good mammogram tech will take the time to review your unique factors and administer a personalized exam that will maximize comfort.

To make a mammogram appointment at the Botsford Breast Center, call (248) 471-8100 or visit our website for more information.  You’ll need a prescription from your doctor to get a mammogram.  If you don’t have a doctor you can find a Botsford doctor here.

Have you had a mammogram?  Was it painful?  Tell us about your mammogram experience in the comments below.

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