Marla Ahlgrimm R.Ph.

Marla Ahlgrimm | Retired Pharmacist | Leading Expert in Women's Health

Bra Pain More Than Temporary Discomfort | Marla Ahlgrimm

Marla AhlgrimmFrom back pain to bad posture, your ill-fitting bra is causing more damage than you may think, says Marla Ahlgrimm. Here’s how:

Reduced blood circulation

A too-tight bra may reduce blood circulation, causing skin damage. And it’s not only large cup sizes, says Marla Ahlgrimm, who explains that a well-fitting bra is one that does not shift about throughout the day. It will be firm enough to stay put without causing indentations in the skin.


Large breasted women may notice they have more headaches while wearing a poorly-fitted bra. According to Marla Ahlgrimm, this is because a lack of support may cause the upper back muscles and neck to work harder to support the weight of the breast, which weigh on average two to five pounds each. Headaches that originate in the back are known as cervicogenic headaches.

Stiff back

Marla Ahlgrimm explains that a restrictive bra can inhibit movement across the entire back. This can cause the spine feel uncomfortable as it has to fight against the pressure of the fitted material to bend and rotate. Back stiffness and pain often originate in women near the bra strap.

Shortness of breath

While a tight bra will not cause symptoms similar to COPD, restrictive material can affect breathing capabilities. Marla Ahlgrimm notes that some experts believe that overly tight bras may restrict rib movement, which can impact breathing mechanics and cause shallow breathing. Most women will not notice this issue, however, failure to consistently intake deep breaths may affect the body’s oxygen and carbon dioxide levels.

Breast tenderness

Women, especially those who exercise regularly, may experience general breast tenderness if the breast are not supported properly. Marla Ahlgrimm notes that women who run or jog should utilize a sports bra, which restricts breast movement by approximately 80% compared to 35% provided by a standard underwire bra.


Author: Marla Ahlgrimm

Pharmacist Marla Ahlgrimm revolutionized the field of women’s health in the 1970s and continues to do so today. After introducing the term “premenstrual syndrome” to the American public in the late 1970s, Marla Ahlgrimm has continued to focus her pharmacy practice over the years to successfully address hormone concerns that affect women as they age. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Marla Ahlgrimm co-founded Madison Pharmacy Associates, and it was there she fine tuned individualized care protocols and prescription medication to optimize a woman’s hormonal health. One of the first hormone issues that Marla tackled was Premenstrual Syndrome, or PMS. At that time, there were no diagnosis or treatment options to address the severe symptoms that many women were reporting. As a result of Marla Ahlgrimm ’s intense attention to women’s health, Madison Pharmacy Associates gained a national reputation as an innovative practice. Founded in 1982, Madison Pharmacy Associates was the first pharmacy to special in women’s health in the nation. Thanks to the expertise of Marla Ahlgrimm, Madison Pharmacy Associates became known for the management of PMS. Over the years, Madison Pharmacy Associates evolved with Marla Ahlgrimm’s careful guidance, providing the national PMS Access newsletter, as well as a toll-free line where patients could obtain referrals to physicians who had the expertise to help them manage their symptoms. Marla Ahlgrimm founded Women’s Health America, Inc. in 1993 to help women by providing individualized hormonal medications to address the complex health issues of women and also to provide practical, helpful women’s health information. Over the years, Marla Ahlgrimm’s vision has grown to include Women’s Health America, Madison Pharmacy Associates, PMS Access and Cyclin Pharmaceuticals. In addition to her accomplishments with these landmark organizations, Marla Ahlgrimm is an author, having published two watershed books, The HRT Solution and Self-Help for Premenstrual Syndrome. Marla Ahlgrimm has also been published in numerous national publications, including serving as a columnist for The American Journal of Natural Medicine. Today, the primary work of Marla Ahlgrimm centers on natural hormone therapy, an important area for the large number of women who are menopausal and postmenopausal. Marla Ahlgrimm ’s work is unique because of her focus on individualized, natural hormone therapy options. According to pharmacist, Marla Ahlgrimm, many health issues facing women today are related to hormone changes. Using an individualized approach to therapy, she reports that many women feel reenergized for the first time in years. In addition to recognition in publications and journals, Marla Ahlgrimm has been recognized with a number awards over the span of her career. Some of Marla Ahlgrimm ’s most notable awards have been the YWCA’s acknowledgment of Marla Ahlgrimm as one of its Women of Distinction and recognition by her alma mater, the University of Wisconsin, as one of its Distinguished Alumni. Above all of the awards and honors, Marla Ahlgrimm finds that helping so many women is the greatest accomplishment of all. In fact, says Marla Ahlgrimm, she still works with some of her very first patients and their doctors. These women once sought the help of Marla Ahlgrimm for PMS, she says, and today she is helping them manage symptoms of menopause and the years that follow.

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