Can You Swim On Your Period

Skin infections, ear infections, and stomach illnesses from swallowing contaminated water are more common complaints than vaginal infections from swimming (3-6). Always check with regional health authorities for information on water quality at local swimming spots. Wet bathing suits can cause pH changes and irritate your vagina and vulva, leading to a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis (BV) (7). To reduce the risk of a yeast infection or BV, you can change into dry clothes after you swim. If you notice any itching, burning, or unusual discharge after swimming, talk to your healthcare provider.

Can you swim on your period?

People often write to us asking if it’s okay to swim while on their period. Will you get terrible cramps, get an infection, or be eaten by sharks? Not likely.

If you enjoy swimming during the rest of your cycle, you can still swim when you have your period!

Still, if you’d rather lie on the sofa and eat pizza, that’s also a valid option. Read on for answers to all your period swimming questions.

It is not unhygienic to swim while menstruating

uterus illustration

What is a period? Menstruation 101

Why do we get periods, anyway?

In 2016, a fitness center in the country of Georgia made headlines when they posted a sign in the women’s locker room saying “Dear ladies! Do not go into the pool during periods.” They claimed this was to protect other swimmers after someone “contaminated” the pool with menstrual blood, but there’s nothing unhygienic about swimming during your period. If you use a tampon or menstrual cup, it’s unlikely that any blood will be released into the water while you swim. Even if your period started while you were swimming and a small amount of blood came out, this would be diluted by the water.

Swimming pools contain small amounts of bodily fluids like urine and sweat, but the water is usually treated with chlorine to prevent the spread of disease. In other words, you are not endangering anyone’s health by swimming during your period.

You won’t leave a bloody trail in the water

Water pressure can stop your flow temporarily while you swim, but if you laugh, cough, sneeze or move around, the pressure can change and a small amount of blood might come out. The good news is it probably won’t be visible. When you get out of the water your period will flow again normally, so it’s a good idea to use a tampon or menstrual cup while swimming. Pads and pantyliners aren’t a good option because they will absorb water and become ineffective. Menstrual cups can be left in for up to 12 hours, so they are a long-lasting alternative to tampons.

Are your periods irregular? Use Clue to keep track.

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Use a tampon, sponge, or cup while swimming

If you can’t or don’t 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.

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You can delay your period for swimming (and vacations)

If you use typical combined hormonal contraceptive pills, it’s possible to skip or delay your period by immediately starting your next pack instead of taking the placebo pills. Some hormonal contraceptives are designed so that you only have a period every three months. If you’re an avid swimmer and prefer not to use tampons or alternatives, you could ask your healthcare provider about these options and find what is best for you.

Will everyone know I have my period?

If you’re worried about stains or leaks, you could wear a dark-colored swimsuit or add an extra layer by wearing swim shorts. Wearing a tampon or a menstrual cup will stop blood from leaking when you’re swimming. If you want to, you can ask a friend to alert you of any leaks, or take a quick trip to the bathroom to check—this way you can relax and just have fun in the water. But remember, menstruation is a natural process and most women and people with cycles have one too!

Swimming can relieve period cramps

Low-intensity exercise like swimming can actually help to relieve menstrual cramps (8). 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 (PMS) (9). 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.

You are more likely to get an ear infection than a vaginal infection from swimming

Skin infections, ear infections, and stomach illnesses from swallowing contaminated water are more common complaints than vaginal infections from swimming (3-6). Always check with regional health authorities for information on water quality at local swimming spots. Wet bathing suits can cause pH changes and irritate your vagina and vulva, leading to a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis (BV) (7). To reduce the risk of a yeast infection or BV, you can change into dry clothes after you swim. If you notice any itching, burning, or unusual discharge after swimming, talk to your healthcare provider.

Yes, you can safely swim while on your period with or without a tampon

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  • It is safe to swim while on your period and it does not increase your risk of infection.
  • If you swim while on your period without wearing any feminine care products, the water pressure can temporarily slow your flow, but it won’t stop it completely.
  • If you choose to wear feminine care products while swimming, experts recommend either tampons or menstrual cups.
  • If you wear a tampon while swimming, make sure to change it after you get out of the water.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

It’s every woman’s worst nightmare — your period arrives right at the beginning of your beach vacation. Unless you’re on birth control, there’s no way to avoid it. And it can put a serious damper on your water activities. But the good news is, from a health perspective, it shouldn’t stop you from hopping in the water.

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“It is safe to swim on your period,” says Dr. Jacqueline Ho, MD, reproductive endocrinology and infertility expert at Keck Medicine of USC. “It is not going to increase your risk of an infection.”

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.

“Blood typically flows out from the uterus into the vagina through the cervix because of gravity, and the water pressure can decrease the flow while swimming,” says Ho.

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.

How to choose the right feminine care product to wear in the water

So to be safe, you’ll likely want to wear some sort of feminine care product. When it comes to the best one to use when swimming, it really comes down to personal preference. Two recommended by experts are tampons and menstrual cups.

“It is perfectly safe to swim with a tampon in,” says Jennifer Meyers, CNM, a certified nurse-midwife at the Mayo Clinic Health System. “When a tampon is inserted, it sits very high in the vagina to collect any menstrual flow. The rest of the vagina stays fairly closed during swimming, so there’s not a lot of exchange of fluid between what’s in the vagina and the water outside of it.”

While any type of tampon should work, you may benefit from a high absorbency or one designed for women who do sports. But you should change it once you’re done swimming.

“A tampon will absorb the water from the lake, pool, or ocean while you are swimming, so it is important to change the tampon when you get out of the water,” says Ho. “Otherwise, the tampon will be saturated and will not absorb the blood from your period.”

And if you’re not a fan of tampons, menstrual cups work just as well. “The cup should stay well-placed during swimming, and provide a barrier between the menstrual flow and the water,” says Meyers.

What if you leak blood into the water anyways

If you’re concerned about seeing your blood in the water due to a leak, put your mind at rest — it should be diluted pretty quickly.

“Any small amount of blood that were to get into the water would either be neutralized by chemical treatment of the water (swimming pools) or vastly diluted by a large body of natural water (lake or ocean),” says Meyers.

Another concern that may come to mind when swimming with your period, especially if you’re swimming in the ocean or another large body of water, is sharks. If you’re concerned that sharks will swarm around you, it likely won’t happen.

“There is no data that shark attacks increase while a woman is on her period,” says Millheiser.

Your regular flow shouldn’t prevent you from swimming. In fact, it can even benefit your body. “Swimming and exercise may be helpful for period cramps as well,” says Ho. Just make sure that your cramps aren’t too bad when you first get in the water and that you can swim comfortably without much pain.

When you should avoid swimming while on your period

There are a few circumstances when you should avoid swimming.

It is best to avoid swimming on your period if you have had a procedure recently in the vagina i.e. surgery, D&C for miscarriage, hysteroscopy, egg retrieval,” says. Ho. “It is also best to avoid swimming if you have delivered a baby recently, within a couple weeks, or are still bleeding after a miscarriage.”

The bottom line is, you are safe to swim during your period, and it may even help with cramps.

Related stories about women’s health:

  • How many periods you can miss before you should worry
  • Yes, birth control helps with cramps but some methods are better than others
  • You can get pregnant with an IUD but it’s extremely rare
  • Yes, you can still get pregnant if you’ve had your tubes tied
  • Heating pads, exercising, ibuprofen, and other ways to get rid of period cramps

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Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD, is a well-known doctor. He is famous for his studies of ageing, genetics and other medical conditions. He works at the Institute of Food Biotechnology and Genomics NAS of Ukraine. His scientific researches are printed by the most reputable international magazines. Some of his works are: Differences in the gut Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes ratio across age groups in healthy Ukrainian population [BiomedCentral.com]; Mating status affects Drosophila lifespan, metabolism and antioxidant system [Science Direct]; Anise Hyssop Agastache foeniculum Increases Lifespan, Stress Resistance, and Metabolism by Affecting Free Radical Processes in Drosophila [Frontiersin].
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