Women tend to have a love-hate relationship with the undergarment known as the bra. On one spectrum, they are critical for comfort; on the other, they become an enormous burden. Regardless of which side you are on, one thing remains true. No scientific evidence proves they are critical to wear to maintain breast health.
Wearing a bra all the time will not cause breast cancer.
Monitor your skin for signs and symptoms of breakdown and infection.
Sleeping in a bra can promote comfort for larger breasts.
Ensure you clean your bra every couple of days during continuous wear.
The bra can be dated back to ancient Greece when women possibly bound down their breasts. During World War I, a woman named Caresse Crosby created the bra.
Before Crosby created the bra, women wore corsets. The military needed the metal used inside these garments to make war supplies. So women had to devise a different garment to support their breasts. Because of this, we now have what is known as the bra we see today.
There are several opinions on why women should wear bras and how long they should wear them due to the various forms and sizes of breasts. So it's natural to wonder if there are any health implications for each point of view.
Always in bra
For various reasons, some women prefer to wear a bra all day, including sleeping at night. Some individuals will argue that being in a bra all day and night will increase your risk for breast cancer. This claim, however, is not supported by scientific evidence. You must also ensure your bra is adequately cleaned every couple of days during continuous use.
So what are the health implications of sleeping in a bra?
1. Helps ease breast pain
Some women experience cyclical breast pain that occurs during their menstrual cycle. The discomfort is due to fluctuating hormones as the body sheds the uterine lining in preparation for the next month.
Wearing a bra might be necessary when there has been trauma to the breast, as seen with surgery. Having this support helps to restrict movement when experiencing breast pain.
2. Reduces back and neck pain
Large breasts can cause back pain for some women, and they may find comfort while sleeping by having that extra support. Many studies have supported the need for a properly fitted bra for women with larger breasts to ease discomfort in the upper back and neck area.
3. Assists with modesty
Suppose you tend to be more modest and feel embarrassed by another person seeing your breasts under your shirt. In that case, you may feel more comfortable with having them covered with a bra.
There is a normal response from the body to cold weather, and nipples are prone to getting hard and more pronounced under clothing. Nipples harden due to an automatic process within our bodies regardless of the type of stimulation.
1. Skin irritation and breakdown
The constant wearing of a poorly fitted bra may cause friction on the skin, causing minor scratches and wounds. Consider a person sleeping at night who may not realize they are tossing and turning. Metals on the garment may cause sores, and certain fabrics can irritate the skin.
2. Decreases a restful night's sleep
Primarily due to a poorly fitted bra, some women may find the restriction challenging to get a good night's sleep. Try using a sports bra, as there are usually no wires or metal pieces.
3. It could cause an infection
Everyone has organisms living on their skin. These are typically harmless. However, given certain circumstances, these organisms can turn on us and wreak havoc.
When you sleep at night, you are most likely to be nestled under blankets. That warm environment creates a perfect place for those organisms to form an infection.
The issue happens when you begin to sweat at night which causes moisture. Suppose your bra creates friction or scratching of the skin. In that case, this leaves an opening for microorganisms to enter, and the infection begins.
Not wearing a bra
On the other side, some women feel a bra is pointless and prefer freedom from the constriction of the designs. While some may argue that gravity promotes sagging in the tissue due to the stretching of the skin, this usually happens from hormones and normal aging.
However, some basic things to consider when going braless are the following.
1. Comfort without restriction
Some women find more comfort in not wearing a bra. If you do not experience pain in your breast from not wearing a bra, there is no medical reason to insist you wear this garment.
2. Aids in proper circulation
Some medical professionals say that wearing a bra can cause circulation problems to the breast tissue and the muscles of the upper trunk area. Typically, this constriction is seen when the individual is not wearing the correct bra or for those with larger breast size.
3. Skin will be less damaged
If you do not have to wear a bra day and night, your skin may thank you for it. Without the effects of the material rubbing on your skin, it will tend to be healthier and happier.
1. Tends to decrease physical activity
Without the support of a bra, physical activity can be minimal. Not having this support during exercise can cause the breast to move violently and cause pain. Physical exercise is critical for overall health, and using a sports bra may be helpful if you feel pain during this activity.
2. Potential for pain
Depending on the fabric your clothes are made of and the sensitivity of your nipples, you may experience discomfort. Noticing any stinging nipples or chapped skin is a good indicator that a bra may be necessary or you may need to rethink your fabrics.
3. Your sweat has nowhere to go
If you tend to sweat, be aware that you no longer have a bra to capture any perspiration. These sweat marks may be noticeable to others, so wear clothing that would not draw more attention to the spots.
The argument over whether to wear a bra while sleeping or being braless has two sides. While both hold good opinions, the fact is that there is just not enough evidence to support either side as victors.
One thing, though, is quite apparent. The decision rests solely on yourself and what you find most comfortable. Always pay attention to your body's signals and follow your instincts.
- Cleveland Clinic. Is it bad to not wear a bra?
- John Hopkins Medicine. Breast pain (Mastalgia).
- National Library of Medicine. Effect of breast size on upper torso musculoskeletal structure and function: a cross-sectional study.
- National Library of Medicine. Relationship between brassiere cup size and shoulder-neck pain in women.
- Npr. Bra History: how a war shortage reshaped modern shapewear.
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- The Spine Center. Support bras for women & their benefits for reducing back pain.