Sixteen million bras are purchased each year, yet an estimated 80% of us wear the wrong bra size! I covered some of the pitfalls of the modern bra in this article, but today i want to discuss how to find the healthiest bra and also determine if the bras are healthy.
The answer depends on several factors, some of which may surprise you!
Why do women wear bras?
It was first the corset, then the belt and finally the modern bra. Over the centuries, the fashion has changed and the desired shape of the breasts has changed with it. These special underwear offer modesty, support during activity and enhancement of the female form.
Women today basically wear bras for the same reasons. They keep girls perky and provide support, especially during more intense physical activity. Fashion has evolved, so special bras are needed for different outfits.
Benefits of not having a bra
Even though most of us do wear one, research shows that the 1970s may have been about something with our bra burns! There is a surprisingly controversial link between bras and breast cancer. Several studies show that sleeping in a bra, underwire, or well-fitting bras suppresses lymphatic flow and can contribute to lymphatic stasis. This is when the lymphatic system cannot drain properly due to breast restriction. Some research shows that poor lymphatic circulation can contribute to breast cancer.
There are easy ways to support lymphatic health at home, but we women can’t ignore that wearing a better bra (or no bra at all) could be one of them!
Integrated breast support
During puberty, the breasts and surrounding chest tissue develop. Ligaments in breast tissue, called Cooper’s ligaments, are thin tissues that weave through the breast and attach to the breast to support the breast.
Over time, these ligaments stretch naturally and can cause sagging breasts to appear. Some believe that muscle atrophy also plays a role.
According to our medical critic, Dr. Greenleaf:
Sagging breasts are not necessarily due to muscle wasting. While it is true that muscle can cause a lifted appearance, sagging breasts occur naturally over time due to stretching of Cooper’s ligaments and because as we age our breast tissue shrinks and is replaced by fat that does not fill the breast as much. Also, if you are suffering from muscle atrophy of the chest, the pectoral muscles all you need to do is start working to regain those muscles.
In other words, chest exercises might not always be the answer, but they certainly don’t hurt.
Go without a bra
Evidence seems to suggest that going without a bra is the best option, if possible. However, for those who are not comfortable with the bra in public or who feel more comfortable with a little support, this is not the best option.
Buying a healthy bra that allows for the best possible lymphatic flow minimizes the potential damage from the contraption, while providing the necessary benefits.
The healthiest bra materials
Bras vary widely from sexy, lacy, to plain white Jane cotton. Some rules to follow when choosing a bra:
- Choose a bra made of breathable (and preferably organic) fabric.
- Organic cotton and bamboo are good choices.
- Beware of latex straps or nickel closures, which can be irritating to those sensitive to these materials.
Breathable fabric wicks away moisture to keep the chest cool and comfortable. Our bodies eliminate toxins from sweat, so anything in a sweaty bra isn’t just uncomfortable, it’s unhealthy. Some have even postulated that tight underwear may be a contributing factor to cancer because it inhibits the body’s natural cooling mechanism.
A case study of a 34-year-old woman found that her Mondor’s illness was most likely caused by her tight bra. This rare disease occurs when a vein located just under the breast tissue or the chest becomes inflamed. Medical professionals suspected that well-fitting bras and belts were the main culprits.
Drop the frame … maybe
As I mentioned earlier, several studies have shown and some experts agree that the metal underwire of our bras could contribute to breast health issues. On the other side, there are those who categorically disagree with this evidence, most notably the Komen Foundation and the American Cancer Society.
I opted for an underwired bra just in case the evidence is true, and I’m more comfortable without it anyway. Tight or cheap underwire that digs into the chest can also cause skin irritation, shoulder and neck strain, and even headaches.
A regular underwired bra is not designed to work without the extra support, so simply removing the wire from the bra can create an ill-fitting result. There are many bras that are designed to keep in shape without plastic or metal coming through the bottom.
The perfectly adjusted bra
A shocking number of women wear ill-fitting bras. This can be due to a number of reasons, but it is not too difficult to fix it. Here are some tips to keep in mind when putting on a bra:
- The band on the bra should be snug, but not restrictive. If it slips, a tighter band is needed.
- If the bracelet leaves red marks or if the skin is bulging, it is too tight.
- The breasts should not protrude from the cups on the sides or on the top.
- The bra should also not look wrinkled or puckered, which means it is too big.
- For those who are struggling to find the perfect bra, a fit with a professional can be helpful.
Another note: heavily padded bras, like push-up bras, or even t-shirt bras push the breasts into a nicer shape. However, this artificial manipulation of breast tissue is not necessarily healthy. The store’s sexy lace push-up bra probably won’t be the healthiest one. A comfortable and healthy bra may be worth giving up some frills.
Consider your stage in life
Pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause are times of hormonal change when the breasts fluctuate in size. A bra in flexible, stretchy fabric allows you to adapt to these often rapid changes. It will also allow freedom and movement of breast tissue for healthy lymphatic flow and detoxification.
Unlike our circulatory system where the heart is the pump, the lymphatic system relies on physical movement to circulate properly. So a little bounce in the bra is actually a good thing! Dry brushing is another great way to stimulate lymphatic flow.
The healthiest bra for activity
People involved in jostling sports, such as running or horseback riding, are generally more comfortable with firmer support. The fabric should however be breathable and somewhat flexible. In a study of 23 taller women, they found that those who ran in sports bras with a wide vertical strap remained more comfortable than their cross-back counterparts. However, in a similar study of women with smaller breasts, the vertical straps were more likely to slide down and they were more comfortable with the straps crossed.
Consideration of body size
Those with a larger cup size tend to be more comfortable with wider straps and larger closures. It helps to reduce the weight on the back, shoulders and neck which could negatively affect the spine, not to mention back pain or tight neck muscles.
A study of postmenopausal women found that those with larger breasts and body size tended to have more mid-back pain.
Even if the back is not triggered enough to cause pain, it does not mean that the body is not under the damaging stress that always causes it. vertebral subluxations. Subluxations compress the nerves that lead to all systems in the body, hampering their function.
A poorly fitting bra can sometimes cause these problems for women with smaller cups.
Final thoughts on bra health
Go without a bra, or at least removing it as much as possible (such as in the evening or at night), is the healthiest option for many women. However, for those who want or still need a bra for a variety of reasons, there are healthier options. A well-fitting bra with soft, breathable natural materials is a must.
Unfortunately, I haven’t found many bras that fit the bill, and I’m sure hoping more companies start to consider breast health when making them.
- I wore the Coobie good for years as a comfortable and supportive cordless option, but it is not a natural or organic material.
- Companies like Pact and Organic bases have great choices and there are more companies following suit.
If you know of a great healthy bra option, I’d love to hear about it!
This article has been medically reviewed by Dr Betsy Greenleaf, the first certified female urogynecologist in the United States. She is certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology, as well as Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk to your doctor.
Which bras have you tried? Do you have a favorite or are you a fan of the natural?