How (and why) to check your breasts

Posted by
Lauren Geall
backgroundLayer 1
Add this article to your list of favourites
A woman touching her breasts

Regularly checking your breasts for any abnormal changes could save your life. Here’s how to get started.

Breasts. Boobs. Tits. Whatever you call them, getting to know yours is one of the most important things you can do for your health. But in a world where we’re constantly on the go, checking our breasts can often slip to the bottom of our to-do list.

That is, to put it lightly, a massive problem. Knowing how your breasts regularly look and feel isn’t just a great way to get to know your body – it allows you to spot any changes quickly and report them to your GP as soon as possible. And when it comes to breast cancera condition which will affect one in eight women in their lifetime – that early detection is crucial in ensuring a good chance of recovery.

However, despite knowing how important it is to check our breasts, way too many of us put off doing it simply because we don’t actually know how to: according to the breast cancer charity CoppaFeel, only half of young women feel confident to start checking their boobs. 

You may also like

How it feels to survive breast cancer at 30

So what do we need to know? First off, it’s important to remember that breasts come in all different shapes, sizes and designs, so checking your breasts isn’t about comparing yours to a stock image – it’s about knowing what ‘normal’ both feels and looks like for you.

As Kris Hallenga, founder of CoppaFeel, previously told Stylist: “All boobs are different and nobody knows your body better than you do. So make sure you check once a month, using whatever method you are comfortable with.”

It’s also worth noting that your breasts look and feel different at different times of the month depending on your menstrual cycle, so make sure you get accustomed with your body’s normal patterns. And remember that breast tissue goes right up to your collarbone and into your armpit, so it’s important to check these areas, too.

Once you’ve worked out what normal looks like for you, you’re in prime position to notice any changes. According to the NHS, we should be on the lookout for:

  • a change in the size, outline or shape of your breast
  • a change in the look or feel of your skin, such as puckering or dimpling
  • a new lump, thickening or bumpy area in one breast or armpit that is different from the same area on the other side
  • nipple discharge that’s not milky
  • bleeding from your nipple
  • a moist, red area on your nipple that doesn’t heal easily
  • any change in nipple position, such as your nipple being pulled in or pointing differently
  • a rash on or around your nipple
  • any discomfort or pain in one breast, particularly if it’s a new pain and doesn’t go away (although pain is only a symptom of breast cancer in rare cases)

Finally, if you notice any change – no matter how small – go and get it checked out by your GP. 

For a visual guide on how to check your boobs, you can check out our video tutorial above. And for more information, visit the NHS website.

Sign up for the latest news and must-read features from Stylist, so you don't miss out on the conversation.

By entering my email I agree to Stylist’s Privacy Policy

Image: Getty


Share this article


Lauren Geall

As Stylist’s junior digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and work. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time.