Skip to main content

What happens at your breast screening appointment

During breast screening you'll have 4 breast X-rays (mammograms), 2 for each breast.

The mammograms are done by a specialist called a mammographer. The mammographer will be female.

The mammograms only take a few minutes. The whole appointment should take about 30 minutes.

Before starting, the mammographer will check your details with you and ask if you have had any breast problems.

They will also explain what will happen during the screening and answer any questions you have.

How breast screening is done

Breast screening is usually done by 1 or 2 female mammographers. You can ask them about any questions or concerns you have.

  1. You’ll need to undress, in a private changing area, so you are naked from the waist up. You may be given a hospital gown to put on.
  2. You’ll be called into the X-ray room and the mammographer will explain what will happen.
  3. The mammographer will place your breast onto the X-ray machine. It will be squeezed between 2 pieces of plastic to keep it still while the X-rays are taken. This takes a few seconds and you need to stay still. Your breast will be taken off of the machine afterwards.
  4. The X-ray machine will then be tilted to one side and the process will be repeated on the side of your breast.
  5. Your other breast will be X-rayed in the same way.
  6. You will then return to the changing area to get dressed.

Your results will be sent to you in the post.

Important

Breast screening is often uncomfortable and sometimes painful for some people.

You can talk to the mammographer, who is trained to help you feel more comfortable and give you support. You can also ask to stop at any time.

Breast screening if you are trans or non-binary

You may be asked to wait in a waiting room when you arrive. You can talk to the staff if you don't feel comfortable waiting with other people.

Private changing areas are available, so you can get undressed just before the mammogram.

If you wear a binder, you will need to remove this before having a mammogram.

If you have any worries or questions you can:

You can find out more about when you'll be invited and who should go for breast screening.

Things to help your breast screening appointment

You do not need to do anything special to prepare for a mammogram. But there are things that may help.

Don’t

  • do not use talcum powder or spray deodorant on the day as this may affect the mammogram – roll-on deodorant is OK

Do

  • wear a skirt or trousers, rather than a dress, to make it easier to get naked to the waist

  • remove necklaces and nipple piercings before you arrive for your appointment

  • tell them if you have found screening uncomfortable in the past

  • talk to the staff if you are nervous or embarrassed, they are trained to help you feel more comfortable and provide support

  • ask staff not to use any phrases or words that make you uncomfortable or nervous

  • tell the staff your pronouns, if you would like to

Things to look out for after breast screening

Any discomfort or pain you may have during a mammogram should go away very soon.

If you found the mammogram very painful you may have pain for a couple of days. See a GP if the pain does not go away after a couple of days.

Page last reviewed: 10 September 2021
Next review due: 10 September 2024