Is it possible? Is it hygienic? Will I really attract sharks if I swim in the ocean?
Yes, depends, and no.
Exercising can be good for you while you’re on your period, and swimming can be a relaxing, low-impact workout for your entire body whether you are a competitive or recreational swimmer. But very few of us pick swimming for our period workout because….logically it could get a bit messy and embarrassing.
Being in the water slows down or can even stop your menstrual flow because of the water pressure, but there is always that risk that it may still leak out, especially if you sneeze or cough…we’ve all been there before.
But there are ways to work around it so that you can still enjoy a nice perk-me-up swim even when you’re feeling terrible with your period! How else would professional female swimmers do it?
1. 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 it’s bloody good at doing that (pun unintended haha). So when you go inside a pool with a pad, it’s going to absorb all the pool water it can until the point of saturation, and it won’t be able to absorb any of your menstrual blood if it comes out. In the end, it’s 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!
2. Use a Menstrual Cup
Menstrual cups are a pretty recent but increasingly popular solution to containing (literally, pun unintended again lol) your period. It may be weird and uncomfortable to use it at first, but many people who have switched to using menstrual cups don’t revert back to the other methods because once you get the hang of it, it gets easier to insert properly and it does not need to be changed for 10-12 hours.
Generally, you fold the medical grade silicone cup to become a smaller size, insert it and then let it open back to its original shape inside your vagina. The principle behind it is very similar to tampons – it keeps your menstrual blood inside of you, preventing leakage while you swim in the water.
Alternatively, you could get a disposable menstrual cup (which is more expensive in the long run) for a one-time use during your swim.
3. Use a Sea Sponge
Yup, a sea sponge. We see it commonly used as an arts and crafts material, or as bathing sponges in beauty stores, but sea sponges can also be used to absorb your menstrual blood. Make sure to get those that are used specifically for that purpose! This will ensure that there are no other chemicals in the sea sponge.
This means that a sea sponge is like an all-natural, chemical-free alternative to tampons. Furthermore, you can wash and reuse a sea sponge, so it’s less expensive in the long run and you can continue to use it monthly.
Also, you can cut it up to comfortable sizes just right for your own body. That’s an added bonus!
4. Take The Pill
Birth control and hormone pills alter your menstrual cycle. Though this is a pretty drastic solution in my opinion – I mean, don’t take medicine for nothing! – it could be a lifesaver especially if you have a swimming event or competition coming up.
Not getting your period at all during a swim will not only mean that you obviously won’t bleed in water, it also means that all the discomfort from PMS and other symptoms during your period won’t surface from the water (ha ha…).
5. Period Panties
Basically, waterproof underwear, as swimsuit bottoms. This is another increasingly well-known period product, like the Thinx underwear.
I’ll recommend this solo just for when you have a lighter flow, but it can be used together with other methods while you swim so that it forms an extra layer of protection!
6. Wear Dark-Coloured Swimming Suits
Just to be safe!
So that means if the above is your swimwear wardrobe, wear the black one. Better be safe than sorry right? Just in case something didn’t go right despite all the tips – like your menstrual cup didn’t open properly inside, or the pill didn’t have enough time to take effect – you still have some sort of a temporary safety net to rush to the nearest toilet to do something about that leak you just felt.
When you’re feeling dull during your period, or crave a different kind of workout, or you just feel like swimming, don’t let your period stop you. Try one of these methods! Otherwise, you could pick another exercise that fits with your menstrual cycle.
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