Does it fit? Getting some support…

It is estimated that 80% of women are wearing the wrong size bra. Are you one of them?

Wearing the wrong size bra can lead to increased pain in the neck and shoulders as the breasts are inadequately supported. One of the most common causes of breast pain is poor support and women are often too shy to look for the correct size bra. As a result their bust is unsupported from below and all the support comes from the shoulder straps which can cause welts and indentations in the shoulders.

The lack of support can also lead to large breast hanging down on the skin below the breast are causing warm moisture throughout the day. This results in a fantastic breeding ground for bacteria and funguses often seen as  white or red discolouration under the breasts and darker discolouration in dark skins. An inappropriately tight bra can also cause problems. There is constriction of the respiratory muscles (the muscles that helps us breathe well) causing breathing problems, back and should aches as well.

So what is the wrong bra and how do you find the right one for you? Look in the mirror with your bra on and see if it fits well.


It doesn’t fit properly if…

The underband is riding up at the back: If the underband bows up at the back or lifts up when you raise your arms it is too loose.

The shoulder straps are digging in: A vast majority of the support for your breasts should come from the underband, support from below not suspension from above. If you have too loose a band you will feel the straps dig into your shoulders and be left with red marks.

The centre between the cups lifts away from the body: The centre should lie flat against your body supporting and separating your breasts. If it does not, your cup size is probably too small.

The straps do not lie in parallel to each other but stretch outwards: This normally means that your underband is too tight and is overstretching at the fastening.

Some of your breast spills out over the top of your bra: The classic ‘four breast’ look! The cup is dividing your breast tissue because your cup size is too small. Often women are alarmed to find they are actually a DD, E or F rather than a C cup.

It will fit properly if…

…you follow this easy plan to correct bra size.

Get some help: Most lingerie shops and departments offer a bra-sizing service and you should take them up on it. There should be no obligation to buy.

Budget for a good bra: If you are worried about the cost of a bra, take some time to see how much you have spent on clothes in the last six months, and how many times a week you wear the items. Bras are the items worn most often in a women’s wardrobe. But many women are reluctant to spend money on spoiling their bosoms.

If you want to have an idea of your size before your shop: you will need to know your underband size and cup size. Even though South Africa follows metric measurements, bra sizes are still measured in inches. To convert centimetres to inches, multiply by 2.5.

First, take a soft measuring tape and put it around your body just underneath your breasts. Take a deep breath in and pull it snug to your skin. Record this measurement (e.g. 31 inches) and then add 5 to it, rounding up to the next even number (31 +5= 36 inches). This is your band size

Next, measure round your over the fullest part of your breasts (normally at the nipples) when you are wearing a bra. Record this measurement (e.g. 38 inches) and subtract this measurement from your band size (38-36=2). This will correspond to the cup size you should try first.

If the number is: 

0=AA cup

1=A cup

2=B cup

3=C cup

4=D cup

5=DD cup

6=E cup

Remember that this is only a rough guide of your size. You should then shop and try on sizes one above and below. As you adjust the band size up (e.g. 36 to 38) come down by one on the cup size (e.g. 36D to 38C).

Not all styles will suit all breast shapes, so it may take some time to find a bra that suits and fits you. When you find the right bra, it should not be uncomfortable or dig into your skin. It should hold your breasts well and give you a good shape.

A good bra can give you as much shape and lift as expensive plastic surgery.

Written by Dr Sarah Rayne

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