‘Menopause’ is a word that tends to be whispered by hot-flushing, agitated, sleepless women of a certain age. A word which perhaps means little to those who haven’t experienced it first-hand. Menopause is seldom spoken about, which seems ridiculous seeing as half of the population will go through it at some point in their lives. Very little seems to be known about the symptoms associated with this stage of life, so let’s address that first!
What is the Menopause?
Menopause usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55 when oestrogen levels start to decline and periods stop. The end of a lifetime of monthly bleeding might raise a cheer in many, but for others the symptoms of menopause can be painful, uncomfortable and impacts negatively upon daily life.
The menopause is sometimes referred to as ‘second puberty’ which seems apt as it is the body’s way of adjusting hormones in the body. Like puberty, symptoms can vary wildly from one person to another and is a time of intense change that goes on for years. It’s hard to get comfortable in (what feels like) a whole new body, and lots of menopausal women struggle with their changing body.
Menopausal symptoms can begin months or even years before your periods stop and last around 4 years after your last period, although some women experience them for much longer. Common menopause symptoms can include:
- Hot flushes
- Night sweats
- Vaginal dryness
- Low mood/anxiety
- Difficulty sleeping
- Loss of libido
- Memory/concentration problems
- A change in breast size
Do Boobs Change Size During the Menopause?
As with most things body-related, boob fluctuation during menopause can vary from woman to woman. Research shows that 20% of women find that their breasts get bigger during menopause. Just like when you were twelve and going through puberty, your breasts might feel painful for a while with extra nipple sensitivity and tenderness. We all have one boob that is larger than the other (yes really), and with menopausal breast fluctuations you might find that the difference becomes more obvious.
We find lots of women who come in for a professional bra fitting are often a size larger size than just a year before. This is a phenomenon that, according to scientific research by the International Health Foundation in the Netherlands, can affect almost a fifth of women. A survey of 1,130 postmenopausal women reported that 18.6% of the women had to buy a larger bra size and concluded that “the most important factor associated with such an increase in breast size after menopause was weight gain”.
Along with size changes, your breast tissue will probably become a little softer (which is the reason for that tenderness), so the bra you always felt comfortable in before might suddenly become annoying and cause irritation.
Bras for Menopausal Women
When you go through the menopause, one thing you’ll want to find is clothing that is comfortable and cool to help with the hot flushes and possible weight gain. And that includes your underwear.
You may find that you now overheat in padded bras whereas before they were your ‘go to’ bra of choice. You may find that seams, wires or lace cause irritation, whereas before that was all you wore. Yes, menopause lingerie can be that tricky to get right.
With night flushes and hot sweats to look forward to (!), your nightwear and loungewear also has to be fit for the job of keeping you comfortable. Ensure that pyjamas and nighties are made of lightweight natural cottons or luxurious silk – you don’t want to be sweating away under the restrictive constraints of tight polyester and ill-fitting nylon at this time of your life.
And it’s not just the comfort factor- the fit is crucial to get right too. If your breast tissue becomes softer than it once was, you’ll need to make sure that your bra fits correctly so that you don’t cause damage. If your boobs are increasing in size during the menopause then perhaps this is the first time in your life you’ve had cleavage. It’s likely that where you perhaps once went bra-less, doing so now causes back ache or discomfort.
Everybody (and every body!) is different, but we find that many menopausal women tend to go for wireless bras which are buttery soft and seam free. Soft, lightweight yet supportive fabrics can be a game changer. Something seamless like the Sugar Candy seamless fuller bust bra is a popular option for our ladies of a menopausal age, likewise the Royce non-wired soft cup bra.
Bras for Comfort (and Style)
So many changes are going on in the body, it’s crucial that you work with a fully-trained professional bra fitter to ensure that you get the right bra for YOU.
Menopause, like puberty, takes away some of your control over your body. It’s suddenly doing all kinds of stuff without your permission or input, and that can be both emotionally intense and disempowering. But you know what you do have control over? How you dress your body. So do it with things that bring you joy and make you feel like you.
Cornwall’s Specialist Bra Fitters
When you’re measured for a bra you won’t need a tape measure – using a tape measure to measure boobs is like using one to measure a jug of water. Boobs are 3 dimensional and a tape measure is 2 dimensional- it just doesn’t work! A good bra fitting specialist (just like a good tailor) will be able to fit you by eye. All bras fit differently and a good bra fitter should be able to fit each bra to each person.
As with shoes, bra sizes differ from brand to brand so your professional bra fitting specialist here at Mish is your best friend when it comes to navigating the sometimes confusing world of bras. We are boob aficionados and those who have been properly fitted for a bra by one of our specialists tell us they feel empowered, beautiful and supported. Specialising in supportive yet attractive underwear for women at all stages of life, we have a beautiful selection of lingerie both in-store and online.
If you are shielding or would just rather be fitted from the comfort of your own home we also carry out virtual bra fittings so get in touch and let us help you find comfort and beautiful lingerie. Because you deserve it!