Your first mammogram: A walkthrough

By NBC News

One reason women may put off getting their first mammogram is fear of the unknown. 

The guidelines for when to start breast cancer screening have become a little confusing over the past decade. Different organizations have different recommendations of when to start, but most breast health experts recommend age 40. 

First timers may not know what to expect.

For starters, it'll just be you and the technologist. You will be undressed from the waist up, so it's a good day for a two-piece outfit, no dresses or jumpsuits. 

The technologist will hand you a pink cape or robe. That way you can be a little bit more covered up and comfortable. She'll walk you over to the machine, have you hug onto it, and will then compress your breast tissue between two plates. Once it's fully compressed, she'll have you hold your breath. It feels like an eternity, but it only lasts for a few seconds.

A few tips: 

- Do not wear deodorant or any other kinds of lotions or perfumes on the day of your mammogram. A lot of those products can contain tiny particles that can interfere with the images. 

- Try to schedule your mammogram around the time of the month where you're less likely to feel sore or tender. 

- Many many women get called back for additional images after their first mammogram. This is a very upsetting phone call to get, but doctors say this is generally not the time to panic. The radiologist needs to make sure he or she gets additional images so that they understand what your breast tissue looks like normally and then they compare it from year to year. 

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