In short, YES, of course you can!
If you experience menstruation, you’ve probably experienced this — it’s a beautiful day out, the temperature is just perfect, and you’re itching to go for a swim and get your float on. But there’s one thing stopping you: stressing out about your period. And while you want to be enjoying the waves, you might not be sure if you actually can while riding the crimson wave. Have no fear, because it’s a common concern that it might not be possible to go swimming while on your period, and we have answers. So can you actually go swimming when you’re on your period? Yes, you absolutely can! But feeling comfortable doing so and getting rid of any stigma or anxiety is a different story. While there shouldn't be any discomfort or worry about your period when you hit the pool, social stigma and shame can really take a toll on our psyches. To clear up any lingering concern, Teen Vogue spoke with some gynecological experts to get the best tips and answers for all your questions.
It is possible to feel comfortable while swimming when you’re on your period.
Even though periods can definitely be uncomfortable due to cramps and bleeding, U by Kotex partner Dr. Jessica Shepherd, MD, MBA, said that talking about it with others who understand is a great way to lessen anxiety. “The simplest solutions tend to be the most obvious: Using a tampon or menstrual cup can easily take away that barrier of anxiety and give the user some peace of mind while in the pool or ocean,” she told Teen Vogue. “You may feel more comfortable layering up with a pair of shorts for more protection and changing more frequently as well, so be sure to bring extras!”
Pads may not the best option.
While pads might be a great option for absorbing blood during your period, they’re not the best way to deal with it when you want to go swimming. Not only will they absorb blood, but they’ll also probably absorb water, and there’s a greater chance that they’ll come off while you’re enjoying the pool or ocean. “Pads can get messy. Tampons or [a] menstrual cup is fine. If you are comfortable using a menstrual cup and are able to quickly take it out, rinse and reinsert in a safe place after the swim, then you can do the cup. However, in most public places, it may just be easier to discard a tampon and insert a new one,” Dr. Adeeti Gupta, founder of Walk In GYN Care, told Teen Vogue.
Even so, there is no “right” menstrual product to use when going swimming. It’s all about personal preference and comfort. Menstrual cups or tampons are what Dr. Shepherd recommends.
Swimwear just for periods exists.
Not a menstrual cup or tampon person? This swimwear is actually designed just for use on your period. It’s designed to keep pads secure and in place better than your typical swimwear, according to the website. The goal is to allow you to be comfortable and to make you feel less self-conscious about bleeding into the water, providing built-in security to give you piece of mind.
It’s not unhygienic or unsafe to go swimming on your period.
The urban legends that it’s unhygienic to go swimming while you’re on your period are total myths. In fact, being in water can actually help to seemingly slow down your period, and you’re even less likely to bleed anywhere when you have a tampon in or are using another menstrual product. Your period doesn’t necessarily stop when you’re in the water, but according to Dr. Shepherd, “The counter pressure of water might stop a menstrual flow from entering water.” Additionally, she says that if you are floating or swimming, the lack of gravity can hinder a menstrual flow from leaving the vagina. So no worries about a Jawssituation here.
It's also unlikely that you'll get an infectionwhen you’re on your period. The only thing to keep in mind is, as always, to shower as soon as possible after swimming to avoid any yeast infections from chlorine or anything else that could have irritated your body while swimming.
“Periods should not stop you from living your life,” Dr. Gupta said. “Thankfully, we have enough solutions nowadays to still be normal while on the period. Just don't stay in the pool for hours and if you are planning to hang out in the water for over 3 hours at a stretch, then jump out for a bit and go change your tampon.”
It’s important to remember that even though your period might make you feel bloated or more self-conscious than usual, or even if you might be worried about bleeding, there’s actually nothing that can happen to your body when you go swimming that might not happen any other time of the month. In fact, Dr. Shepherd says that doctors actually recommend that people experiencing a period swim during their cycles so they can minimize cramping, because the flow of water really helps.
It's important to remember that bodily fluids are totally normal, and menstruation is nothing to be ashamed of. And if all other comforting words fail, remember that even astronauts get their period when they’re in space, which gets a little complicated...but if they can figure out how to navigate in zero gravity, you can conquer the pool or ocean no problem!