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What Happens During a Mammogram: My Experience

Updated on June 14, 2019
BrandyMcNelson profile image

Brandy is a cancer survivor who wants every person to get the early screenings they need to stay healthy.

Yes, I would like to know all about your mammogram please!
Yes, I would like to know all about your mammogram please! | Source

How Scary is a Mammogram Anyway?

Putting a tender and intimate part of your body in a vice and having it squeezed until it might pop is not anyone’s idea of fun. It is a scary idea for women when they have a mammogram. This is my story.

The first time I got a mammogram I thought it would be nice to know what I was in for when I walked through those doors at the hospital. I was a little nervous but it was fine. Today I had my second mammogram and I thought I would walk you through how my day went in case you want to know what to expect when you are having your first mammogram. I am a total coward when it comes to new medical experiences and pain. Spoiler alert: This one wasn’t too bad, especially when it is such an important medical procedure to have.


Check-in

I showed up a little early for my mammogram so I could sign in. This part was pretty much like every other doctor’s office visit. Insurance, name and address changes, etc. I was given a hospital bracelet and then I waited for someone to come and get me.


The Fancy Dressing Room

The nurse came back and got me and took me to a little dressing room area with a locker. The nurse asked me if I had any deodorant on and if I did I needed to take it off using the moist towelette they provided. They also had deodorant in a similar packaging that you can put on when you leave in case you are worried about stinking it up for the rest of the day. I undressed from the waist up and put on a gown that they furnished. I put my valuables in the locker and kept the key with me. I was able to take my phone with me to keep me company as I waited.

This mammogrammer is a pro at the mammogram dance.
This mammogrammer is a pro at the mammogram dance. | Source

The Big Event or Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?

It did not take long for the tech to collect me from the waiting area. I am going to refer to her in the future as the mammogrammer. Is this the correct term? No, but it is fun to say and I am not sure what they are technically called. Anyway, I was taken into a room that was the size of a standard doctor’s office. There I saw a large machine and a computer. I was asked to take one arm out of my robe so that the mammogrammer could place one breast on a shelf. I am not a good dancer and not very coordinated so it was confusing how I needed to hold my face and my shoulder, etc but my mammogrammer must have small children at home and she was really patient and kind to me even though I had to be told several times what to do. This is when the squeezing started. I counted and each squeeze only lasted about 10 seconds. I had to be squeezed two times per breast and then I was done. The pain, if you can even call it that was like the kind of muscle pain you have after working out. The pain stops once the squeezing ceases.


Goodbye Mammogrammer Hello Ultrasound Technician

This would have been it for me but I mentioned to my friendly mammogrammer that I had an issue and she said I needed to get an ultrasound done. Just a little tip here, I should have told my Primary Physician about this issue before my appointment but since it was something that just started happening I figured I would just tell the staff at my mammogram. The reason you need to report any changes right away to your doctor is so they can order any additional tests. I had to wait while they called my doctor and she sent orders for my ultrasound. This wasn’t a big deal but since it was on a Friday, it could have caused an issue if they were closed or really busy. The ultrasound was not invasive at all. I just laid there and they put gel on the area they needed to look at and the ultrasound technician rolled the wand around and that was that.


Waiting Game or How Many Times Can I Check My Phone For Missed Calls

After I was finished I went back to the dressing room got my things, but on the deodorant and left. If I didn't have an ultrasound the whole process only took about an hour, start to finish. So next, this is the fun part, you get to wait to see what your results are. It took 5 days for my Primary Physician’s office to call me with the results of my mammogram which I am happy to say were normal. I also got a letter in the mail the next day that said the same thing. This is probably the worst part of this whole ordeal. They will not tell you anything at all while you wait. The best thing to do is just relax and keep your mind off of the results. If it is bothering you a lot please talk to someone.

Do It All Again Next Year!

After getting your normal results make sure to make a note to get your mammogram the same time next year. For me, I have to wait 366 days to get my next mammogram so I am planning on getting my next one on June 1, 2020. Please schedule yours today if you haven’t already!


Get Your Mammogram Already!

I had to get my doctor to order my mammogram, it might be different with your insurance or your state, so your doctor would be the best place to start. Doctors recommend that women start getting yearly mammograms when they turn 40. This is what I did but I am sure that some women have them earlier if they have special health concerns. Definitely talk to your doctor if you have any concerns but if you are 40 or over and haven’t had a mammogram, please let this be the kick in the pants you need to schedule your mammogram now. Don’t read another word, get on the phone and ask your doctor to order your mammogram, that is the easiest part of this whole process. Also, if you have any special fears about getting a mammogram, you can schedule yours at the same time as a friend or family member's. Your doctor should work with you to make this process as easy as possible. See you at the mammogrammer!


Have you had your yearly mammogram?

See results

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2019 Brandy McGhee Nelson

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