How often you should change your bra, according to experts

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The cost of bras puts many women off buying new ones regularly, even though they could be good for health. (Getty Images)

If you’ve got bras in your drawer that are older than you’d like to admit, don’t worry - you’re far from alone. Shopping for bras can be a hassle and is a costly task, but experts are about to call for changes to be made to ensure women are getting better support.

The Society of Radiographers is expected to call for the scrapping of VAT on bras because they are basic necessities. The healthcare professionals will make their argument at the society’s three-day annual conference in Leeds, which starts on Tuesday 16 April.

Radiographers, who carry out X-rays, MRI and CT scans, say that poorly-fitted bras can cause musculoskeletal problems in women, causing them to require time off work. However, the prices of bras often pose a barrier to many women who might benefit from getting fitted or buying a new bra regularly.

Delegates will say: "Those who are wearing a bra size D or above often get backaches, aching shoulders and neck pain, because of the weight of their breasts.

"Wearing a good quality, well-fitted bra could alleviate some of these issues and reduce time off sick for musculoskeletal issues.

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Wearing a badly-fitted bra can cause musculoskeletal problems in women with larger breasts, experts say. (Getty Images)

"The imposition of VAT on bras disproportionately affects women. Taxing bras could be considered discriminatory as per the Equality Act 2010."

It is expected that radiographers will compare bras to period products as a necessity. It comes after the VAT on period products was scrapped in recent years, with the reversal of the ‘tampon tax’ in 2021. In January 2024, period pants became exempt from VAT.

How often should you replace your bra?

Data from Statista shows that the average amount UK women spent on a bra in 2020 was £15 to £30. Without the 20% VAT, these prices could come down by as much as £6.

Lingerie experts Pour Moi recommend replacing bras every nine to 12 months - although some other experts might recommend replacing them even sooner, every six months.

But this just isn’t financially feasible for a huge number of women. A survey from Pour Moi revealed that on average, British women are wearing bras that are more than four years old.


Among the respondents, nearly 10% admitted they were still wearing bras that were between six to 10 years old.

Michael Thomson, CEO and founder of Pour Moi, tells Yahoo UK: "Ensuring you get regularly measured by an expert is key for long term health, as bodies experience a number of changes over the years. Wearing a properly fitting bra not only means you will be supported and comfortable all day but comfortable too.

"We hope the idea of scrapping VAT on bras will bring to light some of the issues many women face when wearing the wrong bra size. Over time, some extreme side effects can develop into some concerning issues, so it’s important to address them early on as preventing these issues is better than trying to treat them."

What happens if you wear the wrong bra size?

Wearing an ill-fitting bra over a long period of time can lead to a number of health-related issues. But millions of British women are wearing the wrong bra, research from retailer NEXT has found - in fact, 82% of women are wearing ill-fitting or incorrectly-sized bras, according to their research.

Dr Michael Green, co-founder of Winona and women’s health expert, explains that poorly fitted bras can impact posture and cause muscle strain.

"Poorly fitted bras often result in straps that dig into the shoulders or slide off, causing those who wear them to pull them up constantly. This action alone can encourage behaviour that causes the shoulders to droop forward, contributing to poor posture.

"When bras do not provide enough support, especially in the shoulder straps, women may hunch forward, leading to a forward head posture. This posture can strain the neck and upper back muscles as they work harder to support the weight of the breasts."

Watch: Bra expert shares how to tell if your bra is badly fitting

Over a longer period of time, this change in posture can lead to more serious long-term effects.

Dr Green adds: "A bra that doesn't fit properly can cause tension and discomfort in the upper back and between the shoulder blades. Over time, this can contribute to chronic back pain and poor posture as women adjust their posture to alleviate discomfort.

"Skin irritation from an ill-fitting bra can also affect posture, as constant discomfort and itching may encourage bra-wearers to shift their posture to alleviate the irritation, resulting in poor spinal alignment."

When should you have a bra fitting?

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Experts recommend getting fitted regularly for bras to ensure you are wearing the right size. (Getty Images)

According to Laura Charles, director of M&S Lingerie, women should have go for a regular bra fitting at least every six months. “We know our bodies can change, so we recommend a quick check or a longer fitting to find the right bras for right now,” she says.

The most common fit issues that women often experience is wearing the wrong cup size, whether it’s too big or too small, she says.

"It’s very unflattering to wear the wrong size cup, particularly if it’s too small and creates lumps and bumps underneath your clothes. Once we’ve addressed the problem customers can’t believe the difference, their bust line is lifted and smoothed, they have a tummy again and it’s really rewarding to witness the improvement in a matter of minutes. It’s also important to reassure customers that size doesn’t matter, it’s just a number and a letter."

When your bra fits just right, you’ll be able to tell by the way you look and feel, says Georgina Bibby, senior lingerie technologist at NEXT.

"Your bra is fitting well when it's super comfortable and unnoticeable to wear. You’ll also be able to tell from the structure of your outer layers of clothing, a well-fitting bra will make your clothes fit better.

"Our bodies are constantly changing and fluctuating in size, which is completely normal - but any changes to our body can impact our cup and back sizes significantly. It’s best to get yourself measured regularly to ensure you’ve got the most comfortable, precise fit for you."

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