My Search for a Fibromyalgia-Friendly Bra
This isn’t a subject I would normally discuss in a public forum, yet here I am talking about bras for the second time in six weeks. Last month when I wrote Dressing With Fibromyalgia: Do Your Clothes Cause You Pain? several of you commented that, like me, you have problems finding a bra that doesn’t hurt. I had just about given up the search, but your comments helped motivate me to give it one more try.
I cringe when I think of how much money I’ve spent trying different bras. I’ve bought bras from department stores, discount stores, catalogs and TV shopping channels. I’ve tried sports bras, padded and unpadded bras, underwire and no underwire, front hook and back hook, thin straps, wide straps and padded straps. I even bought those little bra strap holders from the infomercial to try to make one of the bras I had fit better.
By far the most comfortable bra I found was the NuBra. It’s just self-adhesive silicone cups - no back and no straps. It works surprisingly well. The problem is, it’s not intended for daily wear. For me, the adhesive lasted for somewhere between 50 and 75 wearings. At $50 each, that gets expensive fast. There was a cheaper brand being advertised on TV for awhile that I tried but it was worthless; there was no adhesive at all on it.
Then there were my attempts to go braless. Although much more comfortable, there was the obvious problem of nipples showing with some tops. A beauty queen I met who also has FM shared her secret for that problem - pasties. I couldn’t find pasties but I discovered that the large, square adhesive bandages work just as well. Unfortunately, though, at my age gravity has presented another problem, which makes going braless a less than attractive option.
At this point, I decided to try something I’d been wanting to do for quite awhile - get an expert to properly fit me for a bra. The reason I hadn’t done this before is that I live in a small town and we don’t a have any specialty lingerie shops. But three weeks ago I got the opportunity to visit my daughter in Charlotte and I knew this was my chance.
My daughter took me to Soma Intimates. I walked straight up to a saleslady and told her I needed help getting fitted for and finding a bra I could stand to wear. I explained that I have fibromyalgia and listed the many problems I’ve had with bras in the past. The first thing she did was measure me over my clothes. Then she sent me to a dressing room and began to bring in different bras for me to try. I would try on a couple, then tell her the positives and negatives about them, and she would bring me more to try on.
Eventually this winnowing process led me to the most comfortable bra I’ve found since developing FM more than 20 years ago. It’s called the Nadia. It hooks in the front, which is essential for me because reaching my arms around behind me is very painful. And it has a feature I didn’t even know existed called the "vanishing back." Basically the back has no seams, hems or stitching of any kind and is made of a very soft, stretchy fabric. The one I chose does have underwire but it doesn’t poke me and gives me the support I need. It felt so good, I bought two and made the saleslady cut the tags off one so I could wear it out of the store.
If you’ve never been fit for a fibro-friendly bra by someone who really knows what they’re doing, I highly recommend giving it a try. While having a stranger help you try on bras may not be a particularly comfortable experience, finding a bra that doesn’t add to your pain makes it well worth any short-term embarrasment.
Admittedly I’ll still remain braless around the house, but now when I go out I can face the world with my head - and the girls - held high.
Karen is the Co-Founder of the National Fibromyalgia Association. She wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Pain Management.