Considering they’re a staple of most women’s wardrobes, there are a lot of rumors that swirl around about the humble bra.
It doesn’t matter which country, culture or decade you grew up in, there are all sorts of strange myths and weird stories surrounding bras, from the very moment we start wearing them.
In the post below, we’ll be taking a closer look at five of the biggest bra myths that you definitely shouldn’t believe — and revealing the truth behind them. Read on to find out more.
Myth #1: Bras can cause your breasts to sag
Myth number one is a classic that women of all generations have heard (or some variation of): bras can, apparently, can cause your breasts to sag.
There have always been rumors circulating about how bras can cause sagging. We’re not entirely sure why — possibly because it means that your boob muscles wouldn’t be able to develop because of the bra-wearing, and therefore your breasts wouldn’t be able to support themselves on their own.
Whatever the reason, this was apparently “confirmed” in 2013 by a French study, which suggested that women who had been wearing bras all of their life had breasts that sagged more than women who hadn’t worn bras at all, and concluded that bras stopped supportive muscle tissue from forming. However, there were all sorts of problems with the study — namely that it only looked at a very small group of women (and didn’t even consider important factors like age, motherhood or genetics).
The truth behind the myth: Bras cannot cause your breasts to sag in any way. In fact, a supportive and well-fitting bra may even help to prevent sagging over time. In particular, compression or encapsulation sports bras that restrict the movement of your breast during exercise like running will benefit your breasts in the long-term.
Myth #2: Underwiring can cause breast cancer
There are a lot of variations to this bra rumor; underwiring can cause cancer, sports bras can cause cancer, tight-fitting bras can cause cancer, any bra can cause cancer… You get the idea.
This particular myth was founded by two medical anthropologists who claimed that wearing tight bras restricted lymph nodes in and around the breasts, trapping cancer-causing toxins in the body and ultimately giving bra-wearing women breast cancer.
The truth behind the myth: This is categorically untrue. Many studies and researchers have firmly established that there is no correlation between wearing any type of bra and an increased risk of breast cancer.
In particular, the whole “underwiring causes breast cancer” thing is nonsense — the lymph nodes allegedly impacted aren’t anywhere near where underwiring sits in a bra (they’re much higher up in the breast).
While underwiring doesn’t cause cancer, lots of women bras with underwiring uncomfortable, and are now opting for more comfortable bras without underwire, like this comfy wire-free one.
Myth #3: Sleeping in a bra can keep your breasts perky
Our third bra myth completely contradicts the first one: sleeping in your bra will keep your breasts firm and perky.
This one is a classic, and many of us remember being told this by friends at sleepovers as a teenager: if you didn’t want your breasts to sag, then you should wear a bra to bed each night! Cue lots of uncomfortable bra-wearing while trying to get a good night’s sleep…
The truth behind the myth: This is a bra myth that you definitely shouldn’t believe. Wearing a bra to bed will not keep your breasts from sagging; sagging happens naturally over time due to gravity and age, so wearing a bra as pajamas will not make any difference.
Myth #4: You should only wash your bra once a month
You might have heard that you should only wash your bra once a month, or once every two weeks. Maybe it’s one week. Maybe you’ve been told that you should never wash a bra.
Whatever the timeframe, this bra myth boils down to one “fact”; that washing your bra too much will damage the elasticity and break down the fabric.
So what are you supposed to do? How often should you wash your bra? Or do you just keep wearing the same smelly bra forever until you eventually repel everyone around you?
The truth behind the myth: This myth is complete nonsense. Washing your bra once a month (or whichever timeframe you’ve been told) is not going to preserve your bra.
In fact, it can actually do the opposite: not washing a bra for long periods of time can cause the fabric of your bra to break down because of a build-up of dirt, skin oil, and sweat. So if you want to keep your bras intact, then make sure you wash them regularly! Every three or four wears is fine, although if you’re wearing a sports bra to work out then you should really be washing it after each workout.
Myth #5: Bras shouldn’t be washed in the machine
Another popular myth regarding bras is that you should never throw them in your washing machine. Instead, you should be gently washing each bra by hand. Effort.
This is apparently because washing your bra in the machine will destroy it — we’re talking torn fabric, stretched-out shapes, missing underwire… the list of machine-related bra injuries goes on.
The truth behind the myth: This is probably the closest thing to the truth that we have on this list. Machine washing your bra can potentially damage your bra, especially if you’re washing it at a high temperature or tumble-drying it after.
However, washing on a cool or delicate setting with gentle detergent will protect your bras — as well as using a mesh lingerie bag. Tumble drying should be avoided at all costs though — make sure you hang up your delicates instead!
There are many weird and wonderful myths surrounding bras, ranging from washing them to wearing them to potential health risks. We’ve debunked five of the big ones — whether you believe the rest is up to you. As with anything, use your common sense and take any rumors you hear with a pinch of salt. Happy bra wearing!