Friday Weird Science: Having trouble pooping? Maybe you should your bra.

Oct 01 2010 Published by under Friday Weird Science, Uncategorized

This post was chosen as an Editor's Selection for

I had another post lined up for this week, but I saw this abstract over at NCBI ROFL...and was lost. I had to blog it. It is GOLD.

So ladies. Your bra. Does it make you feel...inhibited? Do you feel it constipates your breast freedom, so to speak? Lee, Kikufuji, Tokura. "Field studies on inhibitory influence of skin pressure exerted by a body compensatory brassiere on the amount of feces." Journal of Physiological Anthropology, 2000.

Additional citations go out to all my awesome Twitter peeps who provided me with the euphemisms utilized throughout this post. You are all ASTOUNDING. And a compliment. Honest. 🙂 I couldn't fit them all, but I really did try my hardest! Now, let's lay some cable, and get this party started.

First, let's start with "body compensatory brassiere". That's a bra, with the "characteristic to keep bust at a higher position, using two side bones and wire". So, an underwire bra.

Sci personally wants to know why on earth people would conceive of a study testing the effects of bra wearing on how many kids you drop off at the pool, but there you have it. The idea apparently arose from previous work showing that skin pressure exerted by your clothing can inhibit your SALIVA. Really. Apparently they think this resulted because the pressure on your skin suppressed the peripheral nervous system (PNS), and thus your salivary glands. I'm not too sure what to think of this, as one would think that inhibition of the PNS would have a LOT more effects than how much you drool, but we'll take it as it comes for the moment.

More to the point, previous work with girdles (heh, I love that, "previous work with girdles", I shall have to quote me) has shown that you get smaller and slower #2 when you are "under the influence of a girdle". And well, if a girdle, could maybe the pressure exerted by a bra change your log dropping abilities?

So they took 7 female subjects, ages 11-41 years (yes, really). All of them suffered from no constipation and were under no medication at the time. The women went braless for a week, then wore the bra for a week, and spent the last week uninhibited and nippin' out. For those three weeks, EVERY TIME they ipnched a loaf, they had to record it...and WEIGH IT THEMSELVES. One wonders what scales they had to do this, and how they got the women to do it. I really hope they were paid. For the duration of the experiment, the amount they ate and drank was carefully controlled.

Here's what they got:

You can see that on the weeks when the girl was braless, she had significantly larger battles with the septic tank than when she was wearing a bra. I personally wonder about the low showings of spreading the gospel which took place on the first and last days of each week, but she's actually pretty regular, considering.

Now, the whole group:

Yes, that x axis IS misspelled.

Overall, the subjects not only had lower dump truck volumes when they were wearing a bra, they ALSO went more days without taking the Browns to the Superbowl.

So what explanation did the authors come up with for these findings? They have three hypotheses:

1) The skin pressure produced by the bra reduces saliva, resulting in longer times to digest starch, and so it takes longer to take a deuce with the food you've eaten.

2) The skin pressure produced by the bra reduced intestinal motility due to inhibition of the PNS, and inhibited intestinal motility stopped the girls from making a good call on the butt-phone.

3) The increased skin pressure might slow the propulsion of the food through the intestine, increasing water absorption, and delayed transit made taking an upper decker more difficult.

I...have to say. These don't seem all that plausible. I mean, well ok, they do. BUT, I really have to wonder. HOW DID THEIR BRAS FIT. Were they too tight? A LOT of women wear bras that are WAY too tight in the chest band, so maybe that kind of pressure stopped them from dropping some ballast? In addition, there are sociological pressures here. Perhaps those times going without a bra, the women felt more RELAXED, and being more relaxed, had an easier time popping a squat.

But really, if all it takes is that teensy bit of skin pressure to make your squirt hurt, I don't know that there's much we can do unless we all go nudist.

Now, there are MANY problems with this paper. The number of subjects was low, the AGE of subjects was insanely variable (11-41?!? REALLY?!), and none of the women were larger than a C cup, which to my mind is not helpful. I would be way more interested the degree to which women had problems when they were significantly large in the mammaries, which results in a lot of bad bra fit and pinching and pressure, not to mention the greater pressure involved holding the girls front and center. But the paper itself is just so deliciously awesome that I cannot be too mad. Especially if there's followup work.

To conclude, maybe a too tight bra DOES inhibit your ability to relax and heave a Havana. But if a bra can do that, what about other articles of clothing? Did women throughout the age of the corset suffer chronic constipation? Not only that, the bra may pinch a nerve (heh), but what about things lower down? What about tight PANTS?! Belts?! LEGGINGS?! What about underwear?! Will no one test the thong?! Boxers vs briefs?! Should we all wear mu-mus for the sake of a good poop?

Lee, Y., Kikufuji, N., & Tokura, H. (2000). Field Studies on Inhibitory Influence of Skin Pressure Exerted by a Body Compensatory Brassiere on the Amount of Feces. Journal of PHYSIOLOGICAL ANTHROPOLOGY and Applied Human Science, 19 (4), 191-194 DOI: 10.2114/jpa.19.191

PS: I thought you all might get a hoot out of this. BEHOLD! Sci's Twitter feed (presented in pics because I'm not tech savvy), and her many fabulous peeps who offered their insights. I didn't get them all, but to all of you, THANK YOU. The writing of this post was made hilarious by your efforts.

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