The Risks of Wearing a Bra that Doesn’t Fit

27 January, 2020
It can be hard to find a bra that fits well. If you experience chafing or notice red marks on your skin, you aren't wearing the right bra.
 

What do you usually look for in a bra? Is comfort your priority, or are you looking for a bra that enhances your bust?

The truth is, it doesn’t really matter if you’re buying push up bras or sports bras, the most important thing is that you get the right size for your body.

According to a study conducted a few years ago by the makers of the “Pillow Bra” in collaboration with the University of Barcelona (Spain), nearly 70% of women wear bras that aren’t suitable for their bodies. They’re either too small or the underwire doesn’t correspond to the shape of the breast, and so on…

This is an important finding that you should be taken into account because it can have more than a little negative impact on your health.

Above all, make sure that you talk to your doctor about any symptom, sign, or change that you notice in your breasts. Maybe it’s just a little redness from an ill-fitting bra, but it could also be a sign of something more serious that needs treatment.

The risks of wearing a bra that doesn’t fit properly

There are many risks of wearing a bra. Proper fit is important
Your bra isn’t just something to show off your figure and make you feel sexy. It also serves a practical purpose that you need to bear in mind.

You already know that bras are constructed to support, shape, and protect your breasts through a complex pressure system, which you shouldn’t even notice while wearing them. But if you choose the wrong type or size of your body, you might notice redness, soreness, or scratches begin to appear.

 

1. The danger of too much pressure

Think about a bra with an underwire, the most popular variety. If you choose the wrong size, the following can happen:

  • The underwire presses into your chest.
  • The pressure can damage the ligaments of your breast tissue and cause them to sag.
  • A bra that applies too much pressure can also constrict the blood supply to your breast tissue and cause cysts.

2. A bra that’s too large

A woman measuring her bust.

Even if it’s just one size different, wearing a bra that’s too big can cause chafing. Over time, it can make your breasts more likely to sag, and cause discomfort in your shoulder tendons.

Why? It’s not suited to the shape of your body and without even realizing it, you make small movements and adjustments to correct it that eventually add up.

3. Underwire that doesn’t fit properly

Choosing the right bra for you is never easy. Some women have large breasts but a small torso, making it very difficult to find the right size. Every woman’s body is different, and unfortunately, there’s not always an ideal model for us all.

But experts will tell you that of the risks of wearing a bra that fits poorly, the greatest is an underwire that doesn’t fit properly. Every time you rub against these wires, it subjects your breasts to a high level of stress. The damage is even greater when you choose to sleep in these kinds of bras. Day by day, the negative effects will increase.

 

4. Can the continued use of a poorly fitting bra increase your risk of breast cancer?

The answer is no. Experts report that there is no link between bra choice and the development of breast cancer. According to the Spanish Anti-Cancer Association, there is no scientific evidence of any relationship between the two.

However, ill-fitting bras can cause other problems such as inflammation in the breast tissue, cysts, back pain, shoulder pain, and soreness in the breasts themselves.

This is an important thing to remember.

Discover: Treatment for Breast Cysts

How should you choose the right bra?

bra fit
As we said above, it’s a hard task to find the right bra for you. Some women, based on their build (slim with large breasts, or wide with small breasts), will have a very difficult time finding the style that suits them the best.

How to correctly measure your bra size

  1. Your bra size won’t always be the same.
  2. Hormonal changes can cause weight gain. You might also notice that your breasts are fuller when you have PMS.
  3. Ovulation, for example, can temporarily increase the size of your bust. Keep that in mind when you’re shopping.
  4. Measure your chest. To do this, take a measuring tape and find the circumference of your chest at the point just below your breasts, and add 15. This will give you a number, X, which will correspond to your size (34, 36, 38, 40 – or the number corresponding to your metric system such as 75, 80, 90, 95).
  5. As for the cup size, those infamous letters A, B, C, D…how are they measured? It’s simple. First, measure loosely around the fullest part of your bust with the measuring tape straight across and around your back, bringing it to the front. That number will correspond to one of those letters. There are tables online that you can look at to match your measurements to the cup size.
 
  • Remember that the underwire shouldn’t be below your chest. It shouldn’t be too short or leave red marks on your skin.
  • You want the underwire to be flush with your skin, but not digging into your chest.
  • Watch out for the straps, too. If you have large breasts the fabric of the bra and straps can also dig into your skin. Always look for straps that are suitably wide to keep from irritating you and that support the shape and weight of your breasts.

One last tip: Try on as many bras as you need to. Never take one home without first trying it on.

Finally, as we mentioned before, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor about any symptoms or changes that you notice in your breasts. It could be a sign of an ill-fitting bra or a symptom of something more serious that needs attention.

 
  • Boudaoud, N., Raimond, E., Pouzet, L., Correia, N., Pillon, M. A. B., Birembaut, P., … & François, C. (2019). Patología mamaria de la adolescente. EMC-Ginecología-Obstetricia55(4), 1-20.
  • Cáceres, Z., & Hirssleny, K. (2019). Conocimientos, mitos, creencias, actitudes y prácticas femeninas frente a la detección temprana del cáncer de mama (Doctoral dissertation, Universidad Nacional de La Plata (UNLP)).
  • Arias Plasencia, K. E. (2018). Diseño de ropa interior para mujeres de 18 a 25 años en proceso de gestación (Bachelor’s thesis, Universidad Técnica de Ambato. Facultad de Diseño, Artes y Arquitectura. Carrera de Diseño de Modas.).