"Baby, you should go and love yourself."
Going to doctors is scary as hell. What if they find something horrendously wrong with you? Must you even know if something is wrong, if it doesn’t bother you? Often the answer is “no,” so annual check-ups get postponed (or never scheduled in the first place), and we carry on carrying on…until we can’t.
Let’s all get older and wiser, pronto. More information is always better, in whatever context, but especially to do with your body. You can’t expect to make the most informed decision without knowing all the facts at hand. Going to see your doctor once a year can give you these facts.
But if you need to take it slow, then check on your body with these easy steps to make sure all is the way it should be. Obviously, this does not and should not replace your annual exam, but like we said…baby steps, right?
~ Make sure you’re relaxed, mentally and physically. Don’t psych yourself out before you even begin. This is an exam you should be giving yourself once a month, on average, and until it becomes routine. It’s a pre-emptive, completely normal process that lets you check in with yourself. Some women love going through the routine in the shower. The water is relaxing, music can help, and your shampoo smells great. What better environment to zoom in on yourself?
Here’s the basic premise: If you notice any unwanted lumps, make an appointment with your doctor. Don’t freak out in the shower. You have no idea what it is. (It could be a swollen vein triggered by shaving, which is just super sensitive to the touch. Apply an antibiotic cream to the affected area after your shower and it should diminish pronto. True story.)
~ Start at your throat. Using your index and middle fingers, rub the area around your tonsils gently, making sure they’re loose and generally comfy. Move down your neck, slowly. Feel for any hard lumps or protrusions. Take note of protruding veins and if you zone in on one or two, make a mental note to check back over the next few days and ensure the swelling reduces.
~ Move to your underarms. Reach one arm all the way to the ceiling. With your index and middle fingers on the other hand, gently explore your pit. (Oh come on, you’re in the shower!) Prod (the technical term is palpate) like you would Play Doh — intently and with some pressure, keeping in mind the sensitivity of the environment. No oversized peanuts there? Perfect.
~ Take the prodding to your breasts. Start from your nipple, press down, then move clockwise (or anti — whatever floats your boat) all over your breast. Once you’re done with your motion, you should have created an imaginary swirl over your boob. Do each of them individually to maximize focus and attention. Once you’ve created both swirls, cup both your breasts in your palms and give them a reassuring squeeze, just to make sure you haven’t missed a tough nut in your swirling.
~ Travel down your stomach, feeling consistently. As you get to the lower part of your abdomen, the area can get particularly sensitive (your ovaries and appendix do live in that region) so proceed with care. This is the biggest surface area you’ll palpate so move methodically from one side to the next, as if you were going the path of your wax strips, and don’t be distracted by any rolls. It’s all part of the territory!
~ Take it to the queen. If you have claw-y nails, now’s not the time to scratch around unnecessarily. Have a feel around the inner and outer lips of your V. There’s not too much independent checking you can do in this region but general exploration will tell you if there’s any swelling, lumps or of course, pain. Many gynaecologists also recommend inserting a finger, as you would a tampon, to feel for any lesions or protrusions inside. This tends to be the most uncomfortable part of the routine so only do it if you’re 100%. Your doctor can also do it for you…and she’ll have a torch. #highfive.
*Rubbing all the areas above will create some normal discomfort — they are super, super sensitive (like your pug) after all. Only razor-sharp pains or period-like tightening should alarm you.
~ Finally, rotate your hands and feet both clockwise and anticlockwise, slowly. If you partake in regular exercise that requires stretching, this will sound super basic but it’s actually one of the most effective ways of trouble-shooting. Nothing wrong with going back to basics, people.
~ Jump around, it’s done. And you were awesome.
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