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Breast Pain (Mastalgia)

Breast pain: Fitting your bra

One of the most common reasons for breast pain is wearing a bra that doesn’t fit well. Many women wear a bra that is the wrong size. Wearing a bra that fits you well and has good support can help lessen and prevent breast pain.

You can also try wearing a bra without underwire or a sports bra, to see if you have less pain. If the pain wakes you at night, try wearing a sports bra to bed.

You can get help to find a bra that fits you best at some stores that sell bras.

Tips for a good-fitting bra

For a bra to support you well, it needs to fit properly. Make sure:

  • your bra is comfortable
  • the back of the bra doesn’t slide up on your back
  • the shoulder straps aren't too tight and dig in
  • your nipple line is midway between your shoulder and elbow
  • your breasts don’t bulge out above the cups or into your armpits
  • the underwire lies flat against the body and doesn’t dig in
  • the band isn’t too tight and you can put your finger easily under the band
  • the centre of the bra fits close to the breast bone (sternum)

Measuring your bra size

Before measuring your bra size, lean forward and let your breasts fall into the bra cups before you fasten it at the back.

  1. Measure your chest (in inches) above the breasts, and under the armpit.
  2. Measure next around the nipple line and compare it the first measurement.

The difference between the measurements helps you find the cup size:

  • no difference – you’re a AA cup
  • 1 inch difference – you’re an A cup
  • 2 inches difference – you’re a B cup
  • 3 inches difference – you’re a C cup
  • 4 inches difference – you’re a D cup

If your breasts aren’t the same size, always choose the cup size that fits the larger breast so you have enough support. You can use a bra insert in the cup for the smaller breast. You can find bra inserts in most bra stores.

If this way of measuring doesn’t help you find your cup size, ask for help at a store that sells bras.

Current as of: October 30, 2020

Author: Women’s Health, Alberta Health Services