The simple answer is yes, it’s totally safe to swim while on your period.
In fact, you can still enjoy any other activity during your period just as during the rest of your cycle. But if you’d rather lie on the couch during your period, that’s totally fine, too!
Here’s what you need to know before going swimming while on your period.
Choosing the right period products
Although it seems like your period stops when you’re in the water, the flow actually just slows down due to the water pressure.
Just because your period isn’t as strong as when you’re out of the water, you’ll still need to use protection from leakage, especially if you frequently go in and out of the water.
Tampons are great for swimming because they’re discreet, easy to use and able to absorb period blood even when you’re in water.
They may be linked to toxic shock syndrome, but they’re rare and can be prevented by:
- Using tampons with the lowest absorbency
- Washing your hands before and after using a tampon
- Changing your tampon immediately after getting out of the water
Menstrual cups are generally safer than tampons. And compared to tampons and sanitary pads, menstrual cups can collect more blood. Just remove, empty, and wash your cup every 6-12 hours, depending on how heavy your period is.
What NOT to use
It’s not recommended to use sanitary pads or panty liners when swimming. Sure, they can absorb period flow, but they’ll also absorb the water around you. They don’t stick well to swimsuit fabric, and they get uncomfortable when they’ve absorbed too much fluids.
Busting the myths
For most people, it’s the myths and misconceptions that keep them from dipping in the pool during their period. Here are clarifications to some of the common myths about swimming while on your period.
It’s not unhygienic or unsanitary
First of all, period blood isn’t dirty. Second, swimming pools are chlorinated and run by a filtration system. They keep the pool water clean and they prevent the transmission of bloodborne diseases (but, again, period blood isn’t dirty or dangerous).
If ever a small amount of blood leaks from your tampon or menstrual cup, the blood will be diluted in water.
You won’t leak in the water
Chances of your period leaking into the water are very slim. And if it happens, it will dissipate and go unnoticed in a large body of water.
Sharks won’t attack you
Sharks do have a powerful sense of smell. Besides blood, they can also smell other bodily fluids in the water such as urine (which can deter them).
However, there is no research that proves that your chances of getting attacked by sharks will increase if you swim in the ocean while on your period.
Skipping your period
Even if it’s totally safe to swim while on your period, it can still be a bummer when you’re excited for your trip. Fortunately, you can take control of your cycle and skip your period with the help of oral contraceptive pills.
To skip your period using the pills, take the 21 active pills only. Take one (1) pill every day at around the same time. Start on a new pack immediately after the 21st pill. That means you need to consistently take just the active pills until you’re ready to have your period.
Sutton J. (February 26, 2020). Your Period Doesn’t Stop in Water — Here’s How to Handle It. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/does-your-period-stop-in-water
WebMD Editorial Contributors. (June 15, 2021). What to Know About Swimming During Your Period. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/women/what-to-know-swimming-during-your-period
Bell, J. (March 9, 2022). Can you swim on your period? Clue. https://helloclue.com/articles/cycle-a-z/can-you-swim-on-your-period
Shiffer, E. (December 28, 2019). Yes, you can safely swim while on your period with or without a tampon. Insider. https://www.insider.com/guides/health/reproductive-health/can-you-swim-on-your-period