Ever seen Jaws? If the answer is yes, then swimming on your period might seem a little like asking for trouble. However, the rumors aren’t true, and sharks have absolutely zero interest in your discarded uterine lining. So, aspiring swimmers ahoy! Grab a bathing suit and let’s sort out swimming on your period.
So, how do you go swimming on your period?
First and foremost, pads are unfortunately out of the question – can you say ‘wet diaper’? If you are a menstrual cup or tampon user, however, you’re in luck! Your protection will work just as well in water as it does on dry land.
If you choose to use a tampon, however, while absorbing your blood it also will absorb a little bit of water. This isn’t harmful over a short period of time, but because pool and seawater can harbor bacteria that can upset your vaginal pH and cause infection, it’s important to change a tampon immediately before and after swimming.
If you are swimming with a menstrual cup however, no fluid can get in, and as the capacity is much higher than a tampon, you are much less likely to leak. Whichever you choose, just make sure to keep an eye on your flow and regularly empty or change. If you’re worried then try out your protection in the bath first to give yourself some peace of mind.
What if I leak in the swimming pool or the beach?
In the unlikely event that you experience a little leak – so what! Menstruation is a fact of life, not a shameful secret. Periods happen – women leak. To minimise the chance of any unwanted leaks, try tracking your cycle.
There are a huge variety of free apps out there (Clue & Period Tracker are two of our faves) which are brilliant at recording your periods and predicting future cycles. Once you know your period like the back of your hand, you’ll be cannonballing like nobody’s business.
Do periods stop in water?
The short answer: no. You might have noticed that the counter-pressure of the water does slow your flow a little, but it does not completely stop it. Your period will continue to flow normally, especially if it’s one of your heavier days.
Even though it might seem ok to go swimming without protection on one of your lighter days, it would be inconsiderate to other swimmers.
You wouldn’t pee in the pool (we hope) so make sure to stay protected throughout your period too.
Is swimming on your period good for you?
Dive right in, because swimming does wonders for menstruating women! Exercise in general is great at busting pesky period symptoms, both physical and mental ones. Not only does exercise create mood-boosting endorphins in the brain, but it also releases beta-endorphins, the body’s own painkiller.
These chemicals help burn prostaglandins, the chemicals released during menstruation that cause muscle cramps. Also, you know that bloaty feeling that you get around your period?
Exercise makes you sweat out those unwanted extra fluids and helps relieve that swollen belly. In general, if you are a regular exerciser, you will have milder cramps and a lighter flow than those with a more sedentary lifestyle.
Really in a pinch?
If you really need a period-free swim, then your doctor might be able to prescribe you something to help. They might give you either a hormonal pill like Norethisterone to delay our period, or if you are already taking a combined contraceptive pill, you might be advised to stack two packs together (don’t take your placebo week) and completely skip your period.
If you aren’t a regular pill user, do watch out for the physical and emotional side effects that these hormones can bring. Whatever you decide to do, make sure to consult your doctor first, as every case is different and your doctor will be able to prescribe the best course of action for you
So there you have it! Swimming is one of the best exercises out there, and something as natural and healthy as menstruation should never be an obstacle to keeping fit and active. So bust out that butterfly, go crazy with that front crawl, and swim your heart out – period or no period.