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When it comes to menstruation, there are a lot of myths surrounding periods.
From attracting sharks (not a thing) to getting pregnant during your period (it’s totally possible), the best way to combat misinformation is to talk about it.
So, whether you’re heading to the beach or spending a day by the pool, here’s what you need to know about your period and water.
Although it may seem like it, your period doesn’t really stop while you’re in the water.
Instead, you might be experiencing a reduction in flow due to the water pressure. Your period is still happening; it’s just not flowing out of your body at the same rate.
Just because your period isn’t quite as active while you’re in the water doesn’t mean it’s going to stop completely — especially if you’re frequently moving in and out of the water.
If you’re worried about someone noticing that you’re on your period (not that menstruation is anything to be ashamed of!), try not to stress. You definitely don’t have to avoid the water altogether.
There are many safe and effective options for preventing leakage when you’re in the water on your period. The most important thing to consider is your own comfort.
Whether you’re using tampons or something different, changing whichever menstrual product right before you go is a great way to prevent leaks.
Tampons are a great option for managing your period while swimming.
Not only are they discreet and easy to use, the only thing you really have to worry about is concealing the strings in your swimsuit.
Just be sure to change your tampon frequently, use the lowest absorption possible, and wash your hands before use.
In rare cases, not doing so can lead to toxic shock syndrome (TSS). It can be life threatening if left untreated. It’s best not to risk it!
Menstrual cups are another great option for swimming on your period.
They’re generally considered safer than tampons. Plus, they collect more blood than tampons or pads.
Many are reusable, which is always a bonus.
Unfortunately, menstrual cups aren’t always the easiest to use, but it does get easier with practice.
Just make sure you change your menstrual cup every 6 to 12 hours, depending on your flow, and always practice good hygiene.
Although menstrual discs aren’t quite as popular, they’re still an effective option for preventing leaks during your period.
Similar to menstrual cups, these discs collect period blood versus absorption (aka tampons).
Many people find menstrual discs to be more comfortable than cups or tampons, making them a great option for anyone with an active lifestyle.
However, menstrual discs have many of the same downsides as menstrual cups.
They aren’t always easy to insert (especially at first). Most menstrual discs aren’t reusable, meaning you’ll need to bring a backup or two.
Thanks to technology (and some really cool companies), there’s been a surge in period-friendly underwear and swimwear that makes swimming on your period a breeze.
Instead of worrying about a separate product, period swimwear has leak protection built-in. Several companies, like Ruby Love, offer period-friendly swimwear.
Or you can opt for a pair of period-friendly underwear from Thinx, which carries gender-neutral menstrual underwear that can be worn under your favorite swimsuit.
The downside to period-friendly clothing, however, is that it can get expensive. Plus, it’s not always recommended for heavy flows. You have to worry about washing it after each use, too.
You can always use another option — like tampons or a menstrual cup — as your main form of protection and rely on period-friendly bottoms as a backup.
It’s not that you can’t wear pads or liners in the water during your period, but it generally isn’t recommended.
These products are built to absorb liquid, so they aren’t just going to absorb your period. They’re also going to absorb the water around you.
Translation? Things are probably going to get uncomfortable.
Plus, the adhesive doesn’t always stick well to swimsuit fabric, so you also run the risk of losing a pad or a liner in the water.
But if you’re in a bind, there’s no rule that says you can’t wear a pad in the water. Just make sure you take extra steps to secure it, and change it frequently.
Myth #1: Everyone will know you’re on your period
Except they won’t. Period products work pretty darn well, so no one will know unless you want them to know.
Myth #2: You’re going to leak in the water
Look, that might happen, but chances are slim.
Even if you do leak in the water, it’s going to dissipate into a much larger body of water — so the chances of anyone noticing it are slim to none.
Myth #3: Swimming on your period is unsanitary
Contrary to popular belief, the chemicals used in public pools are actually there to keep things clean. They help prevent the transmission of any bloodborne diseases, so you’re good.
Myth #4: Periods attract sharks
Sharks have really good senses of smell, so they pick up on more than just blood in the water.
They also sense urine and other bodily fluids — which they aren’t into — that will deter even the most curious shark from trying to make you an afternoon snack.
Still worried? There isn’t any research to suggest that periods increase the likelihood of a shark attack, so you really are in the clear.
Still need convincing before you hop in the water on your period?
A 2018 study looked at 70 people who experience PMS and concluded that swimming (much like any aerobic exercise) significantly decreased many of their physical and psychological symptoms.
Although having your period isn’t always the best feeling in the world, there’s no reason for it to sideline you.
Whether your period popped up on vacation or your friends invited you on an impromptu pool trip, there are several options for managing your period while still enjoying the water.
Do what makes you happy. If that involves getting wet, then dive on in!
Jandra Sutton is an author, freelance journalist, and entrepreneur who is passionate about helping people live full, happy, and creative lives. In her spare time, she enjoys nerding out, Krav Maga, and anything related to ice cream. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.