Can Underwire Bras Cause Pain?

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As a teenager, you might have been told there are two main types of bras to pick from: an underwire bra or a wireless bra. The classic choice of underwire in bras never really goes out of style and has been used for decades. Underwire bras are a popular item among bra wearers so this then leads me to the need to answer the question: can underwire bras cause pain?

Can Underwire Bras Cause Pain?

If you are wearing a good quality underwire bra that is the right size for you, underwire bras should not cause you pain. Even though there is wiring in the bra, it should not hurt or make you feel uncomfortable.

Black underwired bra with a front clasp and denim jeans are worn by a woman leaning on a table

On the other hand, if you are wearing an underwire bra that is the wrong size or is of poor quality, then it might cause you pain and discomfort.

The Comfort of Good-Fitting Underwire Bras

Underwire in bras developed mainly to provide lift and support. It provides structure to the bra’s support by taking the weight of the breasts and distributing it evenly along the underwire and bra cup.

Graphic image of a blue bra that shows that underwire bras should offer extra support, sewn in wire and defines breast silhouette

A good underwired bra is one with a wide back and side that goes higher between the cups to fit the whole bust snugly without feeling too tight when worn. It should provide support and comfort to your breasts, and the underwire shouldn’t dig into your skin or poke into your breasts.

A good-fitting bra shouldn’t cause pain to someone wearing it. It shouldn’t hurt or make you feel uncomfortable when worn.

How to Avoid Pain From Underwire Bras

If you do feel pain from wearing an underwire bra, you can reduce this by finding the right cup size and fit for you. When you’re choosing the right bra for you, take note of these tips:

  • The bra should feel comfortable
  • The bra doesn’t slide up in front and back when you’re moving or raising your hand
  • The shoulder straps fit comfortably and won’t dig into the skin and are not too tight-fitting
  • Your nipple line is found at the midline between your shoulder and your elbow
  • Your breasts don’t feel squished and bulging out of the bra cups or into your underarms
  • The bra underwire doesn’t feel like digging into your skin as it lies flat against the chest
  • Your fingers can be easily put under the band
  • The center of your bra fits close to the center of your chest at the breastbone

Is Your Underwired Bra Bad for You?

When you’re wearing an ill-fitting underwired bra, that’s when you’ll experience breast pain (mastalgia) and discomfort. How do you know if your underwired bra isn’t a good fit for you?

You Experience Back and Neck Discomfort

Although this is subject to debate among experts, it may be said that a bad-fitting underwired bra can potentially cause posture and pain problems. This is especially for people with large breasts.

Woman in a white underwire bra with lace and front clasp wearing green shorts standing near a glass door

Your Breasts Hurt

This is a tell-tale sign that you’re obviously wearing a smaller size for you. A smaller bra cup will squish your breasts and may cause it to spill outside the bra such as in your armpits. The underwire can also poke your breast or underarm skin.

Your nipples may also hurt when the underwire bra is smaller than your size. The bra wire and cup may squeeze your breasts and your nipples in it, causing you pain. The rubbing between the nipples and the bra can also leave your nipples irritated or chafed.

You See Stretch Marks or Grooves on Your Skin

When you wear a bra that’s too loose, your breasts may sag over time and produce stretch marks. Meanwhile, when you wear an underwire bra that’s too small for you, the wires may leave marks or grooves on your skin, especially under your arms.

Related Questions

How Long Does an Underwire Bra Last?

Like any other clothes, an underwire bra is prone to wear and tear especially after months of use. If you use the same bra frequently, check if there’s any sign of usage. You may see the underwires pop out of their casing or get bent and broken.

Any break in the bra may also bring pain to your breast. If this happens, it’s time to replace your underwire bra with a new one.

Can Underwire Bras Cause Cancer?

There’s little to no evidence that wearing underwire bras can cause breast cancer later in life. It’s not true that the underwire can block the drainage of lymphatic fluids from the breasts, causing it to build up and not get back into the body. This is a myth that doesn’t have scientific evidence to back it up.

Can I Wear Underwire Bras After Breast Surgery?

Talk to your doctor before getting back to wearing underwire bras or any kind of bra after your breast surgery. Since the underwire may affect the healing surgery scars, it may be best to give it time before using underwire bras again.

Wired vs Wireless Bra: When To Have and Wear Each Type of Bra


A good underwire bra fit shouldn’t cause pain and feel uncomfortable to wear. While it’s still a matter of preference or breast size if you choose an underwire bra as your undergarment, it’s important to know that a good bra will make you feel comfortable at your best.


Allena is the Founder and Editor of The Better Fit, a platform dedicated to empowering women with practical advice on bras and fitness, inspired by her own revelation of the widespread issue of incorrect bra sizing. Her expertise and tips have been recognized by major publications such as Cosmopolitan, Better Homes & Gardens, Insider, and NBC, making her a trusted voice in women's wellness and lifestyle.