First For Women

Are breast selfexams necessary?



My breasts are lumpy, so selfexams are hard since I can’t tell what I’m feeling; and they change during my cycle now that I’m in perimenopa­use. Do I need to do them?


Yes! Some medical organizati­ons no longer recommend self-exam as part of breast cancer screening, but it’s important to be familiar with your breasts, and some of my patients first discover cancers through self-exam.

It sounds like you’re dealing with fibrocysti­c breasts, a common condition marked by breasts that feel lumpy or rope-like, making it tough to tell what you’re feeling. But I still advise regular breast checks and suggest doing them after your period ends, when breasts are the least lumpy. Examine them from a standing position (the shower is a good place) and lying down. Always note any changes that last for more than one full menstrual cycle, including dimples, puckers or a hard lump or knot near your underarm, and report them to your doctor to rule out any serious issues.

I’m sorry you’re having this problem! Lubricants can help replace moisture lost due to hormonal changes, aging or medication, plus enhance pleasure and reduce dryness and friction during sex.

The problem: Some waterbased options contain chemicals (like glycerin, propylene glycol and parabens) that can irritate delicate vaginal skin—causing the burning you describe—and disturb the vagina’s pH balance. What’s more, glycerin contains sugar, so it can foster yeast overgrowth, raising the risk of yeast infections.

I suggest looking for products that are free of these chemicals (like aloe-based Almost Naked by Good Clean Love, available at drugstores). I also caution against using olive oil or vitamin E, both of which can lead to bacterial infections for some women.

I thought water-based lubricants were more gentle, but the one I bought made me burn ‘down there.’


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