Last updated: Jul 14, 2016

Any woman who loves to work out has an intimate relationship with her sports bra. By the time you find one that prevents bounce without any pinching, digging, or rubbing, you never want to let it go. Problem is, sports bras don't last forever—and like any relationship that goes south, when a bra no longer provides you the support you need, it's time to dump it. Here are the telltale signs you've got to move on. 

You've had it a while

But probably not as long as you think. "A sports bras should be replaced every 6 to 12 months,” depending on how often you wear it, says Audrey Kirkland, sports bra brand manager at New Balance. It’s not just about the months on the calendar, though, says LaJean Lawson, PhD, an industrial designer and exercise scientist who specializes in designing sports bras. “How long your sports bra stays strong and comfortable depends on the total number of wearings.” So if you wear the same bra for every single daily workout, then you may need to replace it sooner than the 6-month mark. Kirkland suggests rotating three to four sports bras to extend their lifespan. 

You've been putting it through the dryer

The dryer is the number-one enemy of sports bras, sending even the best quality ones to an early death, says Lawson. Hot air ruins Lycra, which means you must air dry your sports bras (along with your other activewear). Hand-washing your sports bras will also help them last longer, but if you're too busy for that (and who isn't?), wash them in cold water on the gentle cycle. 

RELATED: The 10 Best Sports Bras for Women With Big Breasts

It fails the stretch test

Give your bra's band a tug. If you don't feel any resistance, then the elastic is worn out, which means it's not providing your girls with optimal support. 

It looks worse for the wear

Frayed elastics and faded fabrics are sure signs you need to replace your bra, says Kirkland. When you’re in the middle of your HIIT workout, the last thing you want to deal with is that stubborn strap that just doesn’t stay put. Plus, Lawson says, “You don't want a bra that's too old and ugly to motivate you to put it on and exercise."

Your body—or your bra—has changed shape

When you lose weight or have a baby, your entire body changes, including your breasts, and the bra that worked for you before may now ride up or chafe. What's more, sports bras stretch out over time. Stack a new bra over an old one—if the old one has a wider band or longer straps than the new one, then it's past its prime.