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underwire bra pain

It’s a very common problem: your breasts are feeling sore, achy or swollen, and you don’t know why. This kind of pain (which is referred to as mastalgia in the medical realm) affects up to a whopping 70 percent of women during their lifetime — so rest assured you’re definitely alone. Still, you may be scratching your head over the cause, and one of the first factors that women often blame is their underwire bras. The reality, though, is that there are an array of causes that could be responsible your discomfort.

So, can underwire bras cause pain? Before you blame your undergarments, read on.

Common culprits

As previously mentioned, there are many reasons why women experience breast pain. When you’re lactating (to feed a baby), pregnant, or going on or off hormone replacement therapy or a birth control pill, this is a common issue. If you’re premenopausal or going through menstruation, it’s likely that these phases could also be the culprit. Your period triggers hormonal fluctuations that impact your breasts in multiple ways — the ducts are enlarged by the increase in estrogen, and milk glands grow due to progesterone. All of this tends to cause tenderness right before you get your period.

By the way, did you know that your physical activity can sometimes lead to breast pain? One study revealed that not only did one in three female marathon runners experience breast pain, but nearly 20 percent said it affected their ability to exercise. Runners reported being able to ease the ache with a supportive sports bra, however (more on that later). Speaking of exercise, if you’re feeling some soreness the day after a chest workout (think push ups and bench presses), there’s a good chance it’s the muscles behind your breasts that are feeling the pain. Luckily, this should subside if you stretch adequately and give those muscles a couple days to recover.

Related Post: 7 Signs You Are Wearing The Wrong Bra Size

underwire bra causing rib pain

Bra blunders

Surely, your bra can still play a role in breast pain. However, it’s not the underwire on its own — more likely, the issue stems from wearing a bra that is not the proper size. When the band size is too small, the underwire may dig into your rib cage or worse, the actual breast tissue. The underwire should lay flat against your torso without poking, pinching or causing any other kind of discomfort. If the band is riding up in the back, that’s another key sign that you need to size up. A bra that’s too loose can cause aches as well, because your breast tissue may simply not getting sufficient support. If you’re even slightly unsure as to whether you’re wearing the right bra size, it’s worth getting measured by a professional fitter.

Ultimately, if you’re experiencing pain around your breasts and wondering whether your underwire bra is to blame, consider this: in the correct size, it should be totally comfortable.

Related Post: 5 Reasons To Get A Professional Bra Fitting

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Rebecca Strong

Rebecca is a Boston-based freelance writer who focuses on style, fitness, food, and travel. She has contributed to such publications as HuffPost, Elite Daily and U.S. News & World Report. When she's not writing, she can be found at home or in the studio working on the songs for her upcoming album. Her favorite bra is a black demi-cup style with all-over-lace — timeless and feminine.

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