Guys who wear bras generally do so for one of two reasons. Some simply enjoy wearing women's lingerie. But another group, whose numbers may be increasing, must wear bras to support their swelling breast tissue.
Gynecomastia (the medical term for male breast development) reportedly occurs in 15 percent of all adult men. It has been linked to the use of steroids, marijuana, and a large number of legitimate pharmaceutical drugs. Over 90 different medications, including those prescribed for depression, mental disorders, heart conditions, and prostate problems, can cause breast growth in men. Surgery is the only treatment option, but isn't always possible due to medical or financial concerns.
Like many women, guys who wear bras look for comfort, support, and containment.
Men with over-developed breasts regularly ask me for bra advice or where and how to shop for bras. Bra fitters also deal with these requests. Erica Windle, of A Sophisticated Pair, has successfully fit male customers from ages 20 through 50, and describes the challenge:
Men who need to wear a bra are often harder and trickier to fit. For starters, all of the men I helped were in 40+ bands, which can be a tough market. Factor in that they were in the B-D cup size range, and it becomes even more difficult to find options. These men are usually budget-conscious and are interested more in comfort than anything else. Often, they want something totally smooth under clothes.
One customer had great luck finding basics at Walmart while another found some at Hanes, but I have actually recommended quite a few to the website "Woman Within" (ironic, I know) because they have a decent selection of basic, comfy wireless bras in 40+ bands and smaller cups.
Men may also prefer bras without embellishment (fancy straps or extra hardware) which can be harder to find. Sports bras or those in racerback styles, are often a good choice. Men have shallower upper breast tissue and wider set breasts, according to Erica. She recommends they try bras made of stretch lace, mesh, or memory foam, since these fabrics adjust to unique breast shapes.
Guys who wear bras can be overwhelmed by the wide range of options in women's lingerie. And where do men go for a fitting? Erica advises:
For shopping and fitting, I recommend searching for a local boutique in their area and calling ahead. Many boutique owners have experience fitting and helping men with bras, but they may set up a private appointment outside of store hours. Sadly, not all of our customers are comfortable with the idea of being fitted and trying on bras next door to a man doing the same thing, and none of us would want any of our customers, male or female, to feel uncomfortable with the process.
They can also feel free to email or call store owners as well and conduct the process virtually. I've had great success with this, and many of my male customers have felt better about the process. If they want to try the online shopping route, it could be worth ordering from companies with clear return policies and free shipping.
It's a great relief for a guy to finally find a bra size or style that suits him best. He feels less self-conscious about carrying around an unexpected breast burden. Whatever your sex, it's never too late to learn to embrace your breast life.
What's your view? Do you think bra manufacturers should market certain bra styles to guys who wear bras? Would you be surprised if you found a male friend wore a bra?
This blog originally posted at The Breast Life.