Julie Clemons has an appointment for her second mammogram this week and she’s really anxious. Her first mammogram, when she was 38, was no walk in the park.
“It was just agonizing,” recalls the 45-year-old farm owner from Canaan, New Hampshire. “It felt like my skin was going to tear. It was an awful, awful panicky feeling … The whole thing still makes me angry seven years later.”
Clemons ended up with bruises covering her chest after her mammogram. Although pain that extreme is on the far end of the spectrum, many women report pain or discomfort from the test.
Studies on mammography pain and discomfort vary, but according to a 2008 review, up to 35 percent of women report pain from the procedure. Although many women deal with it, some may delay or avoid recommended mammograms altogether. One study found that among women who didn’t return for their second annual mammogram, 46 percent cited a painful first screening as the reason.