Sometimes “Aunt Flo” strikes at the worst of times. When you snag an invite to the coolest pool party of the century, don’t let your period put a damper on your social life. Wear your teeny-weeny yellow polka dot bikini with confidence and cannon ball into the deep end without fear! There is no reason to allow your period to ruin pool parties, swim lessons, and beach vacations. Contrary to popular rumors, swimming on your period is perfectly safe, and is actually beneficial to your health. Here are the answers to your burning questions about swimming on your period.
1. Is it unhygienic to swim while on your period?
No, swimming on your period is safe for you and everyone else in the water. In fact, if you use a tampon or a menstrual cup, it’s extremely unlikely that blood will even enter the water, but if it does, swimming pools are all chlorinated to protect swimmers against the spread of disease from bodily fluids. In other words, you are not endangering anyone’s health by swimming during your period.
2. What are my options for feminine products while swimming?
Tampons are the most convenient product to use because they are absorbent inside the vagina, and they are unlikely to fall out in the water. If your flow is light, you can wear a more absorbent swimwear or a dark colored suit to prevent stains. Waterproof absorbent swimwear looks like regular bikini bottoms but has a hidden, leak-proof lining that helps absorb menstrual blood. You can wear them alone or combine them with your protection of choice (i.e. tampons). Avoid using a pad since they’ll absorb the water and weigh you down. Additionally, the pad could fall out, becoming visible from your swimsuit bottoms.
3. Will swimming worsen my cramps?
Nope! In fact, low intensity exercise (like swimming) can help relieve menstrual cramps. During exercise your body releases endorphins, which act as natural painkillers. Furthermore, research has shown that regular physical exercise may even be effective in preventing premenstrual syndrome.
4. If I swim in the ocean, will I get eaten by sharks?
Currently, 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 haven’t seen any pattern of increased attacks on menstruating divers. Sharks don’t care whether or not you have your period. Yes, it’s true that blood draws in sharks. But menstrual blood isn’t just blood—it’s also made of mucus, secretions from uterus, and other components. There is no evidence that sharks are drawn to any of them. If you’re still worried though, swim in shallow areas where sharks are less likely to make an appearance.
4. Can I catch an infection from swimming during my period?
It is unlikely that you will catch a vaginal infection from swimming. The most common complaints from swimming are skin infections and stomach illnesses from swallowing contaminated water. Check with your regional health authority for information on water quality at local swimming pools if you’re worried. In some cases, chlorinated pool water can irritate your vagina and vulva, leaving you at risk of developing a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis. Take a shower after swimming to reduce chlorine exposure, and avoid sitting around in wet swimwear. If you notice any itching, burning or unusual discharge after swimming, get it checked out by a doctor.