We brush our teeth for the dentist, mentally prepare for conversations with our therapists, and tidy up (down there) before we go to the OBGYN. No one wants unpleasant-smelling armpits for the person whose job it is to give us our mammograms, right?

Whether or not you’ve experienced a mammogram, you’re probably wondering how best to prepare for it. But there’s one question many women forget to ask: Can you wear deodorant for a mammogram? If this seems like a minor detail, the answer may surprise you!

Understanding how mammograms work, being aware of potential concerns, and recognizing the importance of following the proper preparation guidelines for your exam are key factors that ensure accurate results and a smooth process for you. 

How mammograms work

Used both as a screening and diagnostic tool, a mammogram is an X-ray imaging method used to check for cancer and other breast health concerns. The non-invasive procedure is crucial in early detection, allowing healthcare providers to identify potential issues and initiate necessary interventions. 

“Yearly mammograms should begin at age 40 unless there is a significant family history of breast cancer, which would prompt earlier screening,” says Lori Alfonse, DO, a surgical oncologist at Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute.

Your provider will have you fill out some routine paperwork before your exam. Dr. Alfonse says it’s essential to have some knowledge of your personal and family medical and surgical history so they can determine your level of breast cancer risk.

“You may also have a breast exam performed by a nurse or health care provider in addition to your mammogram, especially if you are experiencing any new symptoms such as a breast mass or pain,” says Dr. Alfonse.

Typically, your mammographer will get two views of each breast during a screening exam. Although mammograms aren't pleasant, the compression shouldn’t hurt. “We compress because we care!” says Dr. Alfonse.

Can you wear deodorant for a mammogram?

It’s best to skip deodorant on the day of your mammogram to prevent any mix-up in your results. “Many deodorants and antiperspirants contain metals such as aluminum, which can show up on a mammogram as a suspicious finding such as microcalcifications,” says Dr. Alfonse.

Because deodorant residue can appear as misleading white spots on your X-ray, skipping your daily application helps avoid unnecessary testing and the stress that might come with it. It’s a simple step that goes a long way in making your mammogram experience smoother and the results more reliable. 

Don't worry if you forget and accidentally wear deodorant on the day of your big squeeze. “Many screening mammogram sites offer wipes to use on the armpit area to remove any deodorant or antiperspirant residue if a woman mistakenly wears deodorant on the day of her mammogram,” says Dr. Alfonse.

What can you do instead?

Try not to stress about being stinky during your mammogram. Your healthcare providers are professionals, and they’ve seen it all.

If you’re concerned, try scheduling your appointment early in the morning and showering before you go. Don’t forget to bring your deodorant along so you can apply it after your exam. 

When in doubt, talk to your medical provider before your mammogram to be sure you’re doing everything right to prepare for your scan. 

Other mammogram tips

In addition to skipping your deodorant on the day of your mammogram, it’s also wise to steer clear of lotions, powders, and jewelry around your breast area to help ensure accurate results and a smooth process.  

“If you feel discomfort during your mammogram, it will likely subside after the test. Over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be taken before or after the study to alleviate any discomfort,” says Dr. Alfonse.

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It’s OK if you’re nervous!

Mammograms can be anxiety-inducing, whether it’s your first time or tenth. But here’s the thing—acknowledging and addressing those feelings is an important step in making the process more comfortable for you. 

Be proactive and discuss your breast health concerns with your healthcare provider. Open communication is key to finding reassurance during this nerve-wracking experience.

Explore the Rescripted community to find others who have shared similar feelings. Connecting with other women who have undergone mammograms can be incredibly comforting. When those nerves kick in, share your concerns and ask questions to build your confidence. Our supportive network provides you with support, valuable insights, and a genuine sense of connection. 

Remember, it’s best to avoid deodorant for accurate mammogram results. And if you’re worried about being stinky on the day of, aim for an early appointment and bring deodorant for after. 

Remember to get regular screenings and follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations as to how often you should get breast check-ups. Proactive breast health is critical to avoid problems and catch any issues as soon as possible.

Blair Sharp is a freelance writer who lives in Minnesota with her husband and son. Her words have been published in various publications, including Parents, SheKnows, The Bump, and Insider. Find her writing daily on LinkedIn and check out her weekly newsletter, Hey Freelancer! Head to her website www.blairsharp.com for more.