Dressing up when we know we would be asked to take our clothes off  is something  we women do well. Don’t ask me why.

I have had a tough time convincing my female patients to kill two birds with one stone by getting an overdue pap smear done during a routine clinic visit because they did not feel groomed for the undress.

My “get the pap done today” cajoling gets refuted with variants of “I can’t get my pap done today because I did not shave my legs” or “let’s do the pap next time because I did not shower before coming in today”.

Mammograms (the waffle maker for breasts) have a different rule however. Grooming gets in the way of getting your mammogram done correctly.

Yes, you can take a shower.  Yes, you can shave your armpits  but please do not  use deodorants before your mammogram!

The aluminum content of the deodorant does not play well with the mammogram films. Being that the armpit is in close proximity to the breast, particles from the deodorant could easily cause what is known as “artifacts” on the mammogram films making the reading of your mammogram troublesome for the radiologists.

This in turn  leads to the dreaded call backs to get the mammogram repeated or even worse, requests for more invasive tests like needle biopsy. You think mammograms are painful or uncomfortable at the best; breast needle biopsies are even worse.

I can’t imagine going without using deodorant on the long-term. You probably feel the same but we all can put up with going deodorant-free the day of our mammogram appointment.

About the author

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Dr. Bola

Family physician. Works for the "man" by day, wife & mom 24/7.
Loves the work of translating "medicalese" to plain english.


    • With the digital mammography scan, non-aluminum deodorants should be fine.

      My paranoid self will tell you to still hold off the deodorant regardless. You don’t want to give them an excuse to bring you back for more prodding and poking.

  • I’m having my first mammogram performed this Friday (at 33, due to just learning my older sister has breast cancer). Besides the emotional stress I’m under, having nothing to do with the mammogram, I’m concerned about the pain my muscle tissue and breast tissue will experience. My body does not have a high pain tolerance. Long-story short, can I take a percocet before the procedure, without having to worry about potential issues with the results? It’s the only relaxant that works for me and, if I can’t take it, I’ll be popping a handful of otc drugs to take the edge off. I might not have pain, but I’d rather be safe than sorry.
    Thanks to all for the advice. Hopefully, I’ll receive the response in time.

    • Hope your mammogram went well. I have yet to meet any woman who collapse from pain while having a mammogram. Uncomfortable, yes; unbearable pain, far from it. Percocet is an OVERKILL.

  • I went for a 3D mammogram…..called back next day….found mass in upper right and masses in upper left quadron…..i wiped with a pad that had alcohol on it because they didnt have anymore wiped.
    My appt. Was 6 pm….put deodorant on at 630…..that morning…..is it possible the mammogram pick up some of the deodorant.??

  • I am a man, have a lump and pain in my left breast, and I am having a mammogram soon. Do I need to shave my chest hair? I do not want to have to do this twice. Thanks

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