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Should You Ditch Your Bras & Panties?

Should You Ditch Your Bras & Panties?

Looking back, I’ve decided that the best part of our recent global pandemic wasn’t the ability to work from home. The real silver lining was ditching my bras and panties.  

Now, before your mind goes to a weird place, let me clarify. I didn’t embrace a nudist philosophy and go totally au naturelle but I definitely did stop worrying about any need for restrictive undies. Oh, the freedom!

And let me tell you, I’m still enjoying the liberation.

Besides boosting my comfort level, I've learned that leaving the bras and panties in my chest of drawers has some surprising health benefits. Let’s break them down, and explore some unfounded rumors about what happens when you go without lingerie.

Does not wearing a bra make you saggy?

Saggy boobs: one of the biggest fears most women have about their bodies. Yes, our breasts naturally sag with age. Short of getting a boob job, there’s not much we can do to change it.

The official medical terminology for breast sagginess is ptosis. No matter what you call it, women want to know why it happens. Besides age, some other reasons our breasts sag include:

  • Collagen deficiency
  • Estrogen deficiency
  • Larger breast size
  • Menopause
  • Multiple pregnancies
  • Rapid weight loss

What about going for an extended period without wearing a bra? Can that contribute to premature breast droop? The subject matter experts say no.

Just like wearing a bra 24/7 isn’t going to magically make your breasts perkier, going braless isn’t going to make them prematurely droop. Don’t bother to wear even the most expensive bra based on this unfounded rumor.

Does a bra-free life up the risk of breast cancer?

A study of more than 1,500 women found no link between bras and an increased risk of developing breast cancer. Conversely, going braless doesn’t impact cancer risk, one way or the other.  

Are there actual health benefits in going braless? 

Yes! It turns out there are some surprising health benefits to skipping those boob prisons and letting the girls fly free.
  • It increases circulation. There’s a reason wearing a bra feels so  constricting. Wearing one (especially one with underwire) can reduce blood flow to the muscles in your back and chest. If you regularly have aching chest and back muscles that can’t be attributed to any other cause, your bra might be to blame. Women with larger breasts may notice the most benefit in this area when skipping a bra for the day.
  • It improves muscle tone. It’s a common misconception that wearing a bra can “train” your breasts to be more shapely. Like so many other claims, this one is false. Wearing a bra can weaken the muscles that support your breasts. Going without one encourages your muscles, tendons, and ligaments to provide natural support.
  • It improves breast skin health. Wearing a bra regularly, especially in warmer weather, can trap moisture against your skin. Bacteria can build up in sweaty bras, causing breast infections and other uncomfortable skin conditions.

What are some alternatives to going braless?

OK, going braless might not be for everyone. Maybe you work in an office with a “bra-positive” dress code. Or you might be well-endowed and feel like it’s a little too noticeable when you don’t wear a bra.

Whatever your reasons for committing to the cups, you can still make simple changes that will increase your comfort.  

Get rid of the underwire - Somewhere along the way in the history of bras, someone got the bright idea that underwires were a must in any high-quality bra. Clearly, that person never wore an underwire bra.  

In fact, wearing an underwire garment for several hours can hurt your ribs, especially if it’s too tight. Furthermore, low-quality underwire bras can end up injuring you if the underwire pokes through the fabric and into your delicate breast tissue.

You no longer need to torture yourself with underwire, even if you have larger breasts and require extra support. There are many bras on the market today sans underwire that are comfortable and supportive.

Consider a sports bra - Most physically active women have worn sports bras when working out. These specialty bras are designed with activity in mind. Not only do they provide ample support during running and other high-impact movement; they also are made from softer materials than most bras on the marketplace.

The only caveat with wearing a sports bra regularly is it might increase your risks of developing skin rashes or other irritations because sports bras can be more compressive than regular bras.

What about panties? Is it ok to “go commando"?

Since Adam and Eve first realized they were naked, humans have gone to great lengths to cover themselves. However, it wasn’t until the 19th century that women started wearing what would be considered proper underwear, called knickers.

As undergarments have evolved, some women have opted to forgo panties altogether. After all, it’s the best way to eliminate panty lines and wedgies.

The health benefits to not wearing underwear 

Fewer urinary tract infections and yeast infections are among the most notable advantages of not wearing underwear. That’s because panties can trap moisture against your vagina, creating an ideal breeding ground for vaginal yeast infection.

What's more, friction from lacey lingerie definitely ups the chances of your delicate vaginal tissue becoming dry and irritated. This is especially true and troublesome for post-menopausal women. If this is a problem for you, I recommend ditching those frilly undies some (if not all) of the time. Chances are, you’ll get relief.

If you can’t tolerate the thought of going all day without undies, at least skip them overnight. It can be a great way to ease into the practice.

Any drawbacks to an undies-free lifestyle? 

Well, if you like to wear tight clothes, you may find they're more likely to chafe and irritate your sensitive vaginal tissue. Plus, they can cause you to sport the infamous “camel toe.” Not a good look!

Also, make sure to wash and change your clothes regularly if you go commando. Your genitals play host to all sorts of bacteria that can cause health issues if you let them build up in your jeans and other clothing.

One final piece of advice: don’t try on store clothing  without wearing underwear. Not only can you transfer your vaginal bacteria to the clothing, but you also can pick up ickiness left there by other customers who tried on the clothes before you.

Letting it all hang out

Of course, tossing out your bras and underwear is a very personal choice. There’s no right or wrong answer to whether you should give it a try. Go with your gut, do your research, and choose what works best for your health goals and lifestyle.


About the Author: Shari Berg is a researcher, frequent blogger, feature writer, and author of  Wars End with Me. 


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