Are There Health Benefits To Ditching Your Bra?

When it comes to the thought of ditching the bra, public opinion seems to be firmly divided. Though it's now more common to go braless than it has been in recent modern history, people still seem to fall into two camps: those who can't wait to rip off their bras (if they haven't already), and those so attached to their bras that they can't imagine life without them.

As Insider has pointed out, there is a range of benefits that come with ditching this wardrobe staple. The most common argument for going braless is that many people simply find it more comfortable. Ditching bras also saves you money, gives you access to a wider range of fashion choices, and can be empowering for others who are thinking of ditching theirs. The braless movement has also been linked to second-wave feminist ideology, with New Jersey women's rights activists removing their bras during a protest of the Miss America pageant and publicly throwing them in a "Freedom Trash Can" in the 1960s — an incident that inspired the myth of the bra-burning feminist (via the BBC). More recently, the Free the Nipple campaign of 2012 has also explored the role of bras and the double standards requiring women to cover their bodies while shirtless men are widely accepted.

While these lifestyle, fashion, and political reasons for ditching the bra are all valid, some experts have posited that going braless may also lead to a variety of health benefits.

Is going braless better for your health?

According to A Sweat Life, wearing a bra can actually reduce blood flow to your back and chest muscles, especially if the bra is too tight. Therefore, going braless can result in improved blood circulation to your upper body, leading to fewer aches and pains in the chest and back. The publication also argues that ditching your bra can lead to better skin health on your breasts, as bras can trap dirt and sweat on the skin. This can result in clogged pores, skin irritation, and even infection.

Another argument for going braless claims that wearing a bra can increase a person's risk of breast cancer. Wellness website Health Shots states that bras with underwires can rupture breast tissue, leading to serious health complications. However, the link between breast cancer and bras has widely been dismissed as a myth. Speaking to the Cleveland Clinic, bra health specialist Cassann Blake, M.D., confirmed that bras don't increase the risk of breast cancer, saying, "I've been asked before if underwire bras can affect someone's breast cancer risk and they do not." Dr. Blake adds that wearing or ditching a bra won't affect breast sagging. 

Healthline adds that there's limited research on the effects of bras on breast health. While skin and blood circulation benefits may be valid arguments, there aren't many more proven health reasons to forgo a bra. However, there are a few common bra mistakes that can lead to health issues.

How to wear a bra properly

Though they may feel awkward, bra fittings with a trained professional are crucial. Wearing the wrong bra size can lead to several health problems (via Oahu Spine Rehab). Bras that are too large can lead to excessive pressure on the trapezius muscle, which may result in neck pain and headaches. Additionally, bras that are too big may prompt people with larger breasts to slouch forward, which can cause weak core muscles and spinal problems. Meanwhile, bras that are too small can cause skin abrasions, restricted breathing, and scar tissue from the underwire. As bodies change with age, pregnancy, and other lifestyle or health factors, it's important to regularly get fitted to avoid these issues.

Another common bra mistake to avoid is wearing the same bra every day. According to Bra Stop, you should never wear the same bra two days in a row, as this can cause the elastic to wear out. You should also replace your everyday bras after six months of wear, as the elastics will likely reach a point where they can no longer provide support. As long as you're wearing the correct size bra, and avoid wearing the same bra over extended periods of time, choosing to wear a bra doesn't lead to significant health problems. So the decision to ditch your bra is not right or wrong, and is entirely up to you!