Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Menstruation And Swimming But Were Afraid To Ask
Its a fact of life: Females of childbearing age typically menstruate for an average of four to eight days on a regular cycle of roughly every 28 days.
This happens like clockwork for some, less consistently for others, depending on a range of health and environmental factors. Every womans cycle is different.
For some, they bleed for three days every 21 days. For others, an eight-day period that occurs every 38 days is normal. Still others may have periods that fluctuate, and hormonal birth control pills can be used to skip periods for months on end.
For most women, its just part of being female and something they get used to managing. The OWH reports that women can usually expect to have a period nearly every month or so for an average of about 40 years. Most girls can expect their period to begin during puberty, usually sometime between 11 and 16 years of age, and last until menopause, which typically arrives somewhere between the ages of 45 and 55.
Again, theres a lot of variability here depending on genetics, medications being used, health conditions, and environmental factors. But the point is, periods are a near universal and regular experience for teens and women for many years.
Our Top 3 Tips For Swimming With A Menstrual Cup
Now that you know swimming with a menstrual cup is possible, use these tips to get the most out of your swim when youre on your period.
1. Learn how to create the seal to prevent leakage
If youre a beginner cup user, know theres a learning curve. You might learn how to use your cup right away, or it may take you a few cycles before you get it right. Everyone is different and theres no specific time frame.
To help you prepare for your first time and prevent any menstrual cup leaking, check out our complete guide on how to insert a menstrual cup for a leak-free period. We also recommend practicing using your period cup for one or two cycles before swimming, but if you cant, just practice before your swim day to learn the basics:
2. Empty the cup before you jump in
Another tip is to empty your menstrual cup before entering the water for a swim. Why? Youll feel freer and can swim for a longer amount of time without having to worry about emptying your period cup.
3. Take a bottle of water with you
As a general rule, make sure to wash your hands before removing or inserting your menstrual cup.
You Will Not Get Eaten By Sharks Because Of Your Period
Thanks to some popular films like Jaws, lots of people are afraid of sharks while swimming in the ocean. Some people with periods are told not to swim in the ocean during their periods because period blood might attract sharks . However, there are no recorded cases of sharks attacking someone on their period. According to the International Shark Attack File, many people safely dive while menstruating. More research is needed, but they havenât seen any pattern of increased attacks on divers while theyâre on their periods. Marie Levine, Founder and Executive Director of The Shark Research Institute has been diving for decades without any problem. She told Mother Jones, â even got my period while underwater with a school of hammerheadsâthe sharks were not interested.â
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Yes You Can Swim On Your Period
Good news â yes, you can go swimming on your period! If itâs a hot summerâs day at the beach or youâre swimming laps at your local pool and youâve got your period, you shouldnât have to worry about leaving a trail of blood or being attacked by a shark in the ocean . Itâs safe to hit the water on your period, as long as you wear a tampon orâ¯menstrual cupâ¯while youâre swimming. Read on for some facts about swimming on your period and what period products can help .
Will Swimming On My Period Make My Cramps Worse
Exercises like swimming or light jogging can actually help to relieve cramps, rather than worsen them.
If you still dont feel comfortable swimming during your time of the month, youve always got sunbathing to fall back on! Sometimes you cant beat a little snooze in the sun.
Have you tried swimming on your period before? Let us know your top tips over on .
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Bonus: Swimming May Actually Help Relieve Any Pms
Still need convincing before you hop in the water on your period?
A 2018 study looked at 70 people who experience PMS and concluded that swimming significantly decreased many of their physical and psychological symptoms.
This means that, while you might not be interested in a super heavy workout during your period, engaging in some light physical activity might be exactly what you need to find relief.
Menstrual Products For Swimming
Your best choice for menstrual products for swimming is either a tampon or a menstrual cup. Pads dont work because they cant absorb your menstrual flow once they get wet. You can end up with visible stains on your swimwear, and some of your flow will leak into the water.
When using a tampon for swimming, you may need one of higher absorbency. Some water will be absorbed by the tampon, making it swell a little and have less absorbency for your flow.
You may find that you have to change your tampon more frequently. Bring extra along so you can change after your swim. As always, do not wear a tampon for more than eight hours as that increases the risk of toxic shock syndrome.
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Reduces Pain Like Period Cramps
Those endorphins that lift your mood? They also act as natural painkillers. So, if youre experiencing menstrual cramps or lower back pain as a result of your period, exercise can provide some pain relief for these symptoms. According to theOffice on Womens Health, Researchers have found that some women have fewer painful period cramps during menstruation if they exercise regularly.
How To Prevent Leakage
You may have heard that your period stops when youâre in the water because of the water pressure. Thatâs not true. The water pressure may slow the flow, but your period will still continue. Thatâs why you should use a tampon or menstrual cup when youâre going swimming.â
Donât use pads in water. You may prefer to use pads during your period, but theyâre not meant for use in water. Pads will just absorb the water around you. Using one in water makes it ineffective and messy.
Tampons. Tampons are usually made of cotton, rayon, or a combination of the two fibers. You can use tampons when swimming. They might absorb some water but this will only make it a bit wet. Change the tampon shortly after swimming.â
Tampons are linked to toxic shock syndrome. This is a rare but serious complication. It may be caused by toxins produced by Staphylococcus aureus â staph â bacteria or group A streptococcus â strep â bacteria.â
Toxic shock syndrome can affect anyone. Itâs been associated with:
- Recent surgery
- Viral infections, such as chickenpox or flu
- Use of tampons, diaphragms, contraceptive sponges, and menstrual cupsâ
Symptoms and signs of toxic shock syndrome include:
- Redness in your eyes, throat, and mouth â
To lower your risk of toxic show syndrome, follow these recommendations:
You should change and clean your period swimwear or underwear at least every 12 hours. Read the instructions before you wash it. â
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The Classic Solution: Wear A Tampon
Usually, we are first taught to use pads when we first get our periods. Having used pads for many years, many of us take a while to try out tampons, if ever at all.
Using a pad on a swim is an absolutely terrible idea, unless your flow is extremely light and you just need a pantyliner in case. Pads are made to absorb liquid your menstrual blood and its bloody good at doing that . So when you go inside a pool with a pad, its going to absorb all the pool water it can until the point of saturation, and it wont be able to absorb any of your menstrual blood if it comes out. In the end, its the same as wearing no pad at all!
Using a tampon protects you from leakage because your blood is all absorbed inside. Very little water is able to go inside your tampon too, so this is a simple and common solution to swimming while on your period.
Some people worry that the tampon string may become visible, so be careful to tuck it in properly within your swimsuit bottom. You could wear swimming shorts instead to feel safer!
Can You Swim With A Period Pad
Pads are designed to absorb all liquids, so they arent as effective when swimming as theyll absorb the water you swim in as well as your menstrual blood! While its very unlikely that youre going to leak as pads create an effective barrier, it might be a little uncomfortable to wear a sodden pad whilst swimming or when you leave the water!
Some conventional pads also contain super absorbent polymers , which will quickly absorb water, and may not leave any room to absorb your period blood once you get out of the water. If you do prefer to wear a pad and want to be more discreet, you may want to use pads without wings.
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Will Swimming On My Period Attract Sharks
This question honestly makes me laugh, but its a serious concern for a lot of people! No need to worry though there are no reported incidents of a shark attacking someone who is menstruating, and there are plenty of divers who have entered the water on their period and made it out without being eaten by a shark.
In general, shark attacks are extremely rare. On average, there are only two fatalities caused by shark attacks every two years in the world. If youre super worried about it, feel free to skip any deep dives during your period. Your peace of mind is worth it!
Swimming On Your Period Is Good For Cramps
You mightve been told that swimming is a surefire way to make period cramps worse, but again its just not true . In fact, light exercise like swimming is often a fantastic way to beat those annoying aches and pains. This is because your body releases endorphins when you work out, and these act as a natural painkiller. They also give you an overall sense of wellbeing, which helps you to feel happier on any kind of flow.
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What If You Go Swimming On Your Period Without Any Feminine Care Products
If you’ve ever tried swimming while on your period without wearing any feminine care products, you’ve likely noticed your period may seem to temporarily stop when you’re in the water. And there’s some legitimate science behind it.
So it can slow your flow but it doesn’t totally stop your flow from happening.
“Water pressure may temporarily stop the flow of your period while in the water, but coughing, sneezing, laughing, big movements may override this,” says Dr. Leah Millheiser, MD, OB-GYN and director of the Female Sexual Medicine Program at Stanford Health Care.
Or Explore Alternative Period Products Like A Menstrual Cup
Clearly, we think leakproof swimwear is an amazing, sustainable, stylish, and confidence-boosting option for swimming when on your period. You can wear a tampon with leakproof swimwear when swimming on your period, but you dont have to wear any other protection if you dont want to.
However, period / leakproof swimwear isnt the only alternative to a tampon when it comes to swimming on your periods. There are other alternative period products, including:
- Menstrual cups, and
- Menstrual discs
The most popular of these two options is the menstrual cup. Lets explore how they work
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Its Unlikely Youll Be Noticed
Many of us are under the impression that the moment we get in the water while were on our periods, well instantly start leaving a trail. This also isnt true in fact, the truth is almost closer to the opposite. It may sound weird or unbelievable, but the water pressure coming from a swimming pool or the ocean can actually stop your flow! The only time this water pressure may drop while youre swimming is if you laugh, cough, sneeze, or move around, but any fluid that comes out shouldnt be noticeable. Its such a small amount of blood each time, the water should dilute it before that happens. Of course, the pressure will drop again when you get out of the water and everything will go back to normal, but if youre wearing a tampon, menstrual cup, or our period-proof swimwear, this shouldnt be a problem.
Can You Swim While Wearing A Tampon
Yes, you can! In fact, tampons are some of the most suitable sanitary products for taking a dip in the water while on your period.
Before you get into the water, insert the tampon. This will allow it to absorb menstrual blood instead of water.
When you get out of the water, take out the used tampon and insert a fresh one.
Its important to change your tampon every eight hours to reduce the risk of toxic shock syndrome.
Keep a stash of extra tampons for whenever you want to get back into the water.
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Swimming Can Relieve Period Cramps
Low-intensity exercise like swimming can actually help to relieve menstrual cramps . During exercise, your body releases endorphins that act as natural painkillers and give you an increased feeling of well-being. Research also shows that swimming can reduce premenstrual syndrome . For some people, exercise might be negatively impacted by their menstrual cycle. Olympic medalist Fu Yuanhui broke taboos when she told reporters that period cramps had affected her performance.
Can Swimming Makes Menstrual Cramps Worse
Swimming during your period is not only safe, but also a good idea. Staying active has been shown to help relieve cramping and fatigue during the monthly period. Physical activities such as swimming or exercise can actually help you relieve period pain and discomfort. Low-intensity activities, such as swimming, cause the release of endorphins. These endorphins serve as natural pain relievers for your body, relieving you of the discomfort caused by menstrual cramps.
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Use A Tampon Sponge Or Cup While Swimming
If you canât or donât want to use a tampon or alternative product like a sponge or menstrual cup, you have a few options. If your flow is light, you can wear absorbent swimwear or a dark-colored suit to prevent stains. Waterproof absorbent swimwear look like regular bikini bottoms but have a hidden, leak-proof lining that helps absorb menstrual blood. You can wear a pad before and after swimming.
Wait So Why Does It Feel Like Your Period Stops In Water
First of all, let’s get this out of the way: You can absolutely safely swim while on your periodthere’s nothing to feel shame about. “In fact, exercising and moving your body while menstruating can actually help with cramps and period pain,” says Natasha Ramsey, MD, MPH, an adolescent medicine physician specializing in period management and advisory board member at the cycle tracking app Orchyd.
Next up, Dr. Ramsey wants to address two myths that are floating around out there: that your period attracts sharks, and that your period magically stops underwater. Don’t even listen to the shark thing, even if you are swimming in the ocean, and note that your period doesnt fully stop in water, even if it feels that way. “Your body is still releasing menstrual blood while you are underwater. However, the pressure while your body is underwater slows the flow,” explains Dr. Ramsey. So you’re not going to bleed as much while you’re taking a dip, but if you’re on a heavy flow day or have a heavier period in general, you could end up with some leakage out of your swimsuit.
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Here Are The Best Products For Swimming On Your Period
- Tampons tampons are designed to catch your flow before it leaves your body, so your tampon will absorb your blood before it gets to the water. You should change your tampon every 2 3 hours so make sure youre fully stocked and prepared if youre out all day. Check out this guide on how to put a tampon in and prevent leaks.
- Menstrual cup similarly to tampons, menstrual cups also catch your blood before it leaves your body. While you can wear a menstrual cup for longer and dont need to bring extra products with you, you will have to wash it, which could be difficult in public areas.
- Period proof swimwear period proof swimwear looks just like normal bikini bottoms, except they have another hidden layer which absorbs menstrual blood, so you dont need to worry about leaking!