The Mammo Minute: Does Getting a Mammogram Hurt?

Dr. Arthy Saravanan explains what to expect during a mammogram and the range of sensations women might experience.

Hi, my name is Doctor Arthy Saravanan. I’m the chief of the breast imaging section at Austin Radiological Association. Welcome to the Mammo Minute.

Today’s question is, “Does getting a mammogram hurt?”

A lot of women who have not yet had a mammogram ask this question – “Does it hurt?” Everyone that gets a mammogram will have a different opinion about the way it feels, ranging from feeling no pain or discomfort, to feeling pressure and mild pain. But while you may feel discomfort and pressure, it is unusual to feel intense pain.

The point of a mammogram is to get the best picture possible of the inside of your breast, so spreading the tissue out can improve our chances of seeing cancer. To do that, your technologist will gently place your breast between two plastic plates, have you position your body correctly, and then compress the plates around your breast. We generally include some tissue above the breast closer to the armpit, as there can be breast tissue in that region.

There are a few things you can do to lessen the chances of having pain during your mammogram. One is to time the exam right. Avoid the week before your period when your breasts might be more tender. Also, please tell your scheduler about any special needs you might have regarding pain and mobility. You can also take an over-the-counter pain reliever an hour before your exam. Most importantly, I encourage you to communicate with your mammography technologist. They are here to help you get through the exam successfully and comfortably. If you feel discomfort, let them know immediately and they can adjust to your position.

Well, that’s all for today. Be sure to schedule your mammogram. Thanks for tuning in to the Mammo Minute!

Share This Page: