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Debunking The Period Myth: Women Shouldn’t Swim Or Exercise During Periods


“Raat ko plants ke paas mat jana”

“Aachar mat choona”

What other nonsensical myth have you heard when you’re on your period? Menstruation in India is shrouded in cultural beliefs, traditions, taboos, and most important of all, myths. While they might have made sense to people at one point in time, today, they create silence and shame around topics that really do need to be discussed. Common misconceptions include avoiding certain foods, being separated from your family, and being told what activities you can and can not do. The same stands with swimming, which menstruators were told that they absolutely should not do on their period. You might’ve wondered if can we swim during periods with pads, how to swim during periods or even if is it good to swim on your period. Let’s address those concerns.

Can We Swim During Periods?

Here is what happens if you swim while on your period. Nothing. So yes, it is ABSOLUTELY safe to swim while on your period, as long as you take the right precautions. You just have to make sure that you use reliable menstrual products. While you cannot swim during periods with a pad, you can with a tampon, or a menstrual cup/disc. Swimming on your period is not only safe but actually encouraged as it has numerous physical and mental health benefits too! Let’s look at some of them.

Read: Gynaecologist Debunks Period Myths

Benefits Of Swimming On Your Period

Debunking The Period Myth: Women Shouldn't Swim Or Exercise During Periods

1. Pain Relief:

Exercise, including swimming, releases endorphins that act like natural pain relievers. Swimming will even help alleviate menstrual cramps and discomfort.

2. Improved Mood:

Physical activity in water boosts serotonin levels, which improves your mood and reduces your symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and mood swings.

3. Enhanced Circulation:

Swimming promotes better blood circulation, which can reduce bloating and water retention that’s commonly experienced during menstruation.

4. Relaxation:

The soothing nature of water and swimming can promote relaxation, reducing stress and anxiety levels.

5. Muscle Relaxation:

Swimming involves rhythmic movements, which can relax muscles and relieve tension, reducing menstrual pain and discomfort.

6. Regulated Menstrual Cycle:

Regular physical activity, including swimming, can help regulate your menstrual cycles and promote overall hormonal balance.

7. Boosted Energy:

Engaging in swimming can increase energy levels, counteracting feelings of fatigue often experienced during menstruation.

8. Improved Sleep:

Regular exercise, including swimming, has been positively linked to better sleep quality.

9. Confidence and Body Positivity:

Overcoming the fear of swimming during your period can boost your confidence and body positivity, and promote a healthy self-image.

7 Common Menstrual Swimming Myths

Certainly, there are several concerns and myths associated with swimming during periods. Here are seven common concerns/myths and their detailed explanations:

Myth 1: Swimming During Periods Will Attract Sharks

Reality: This widespread myth has no scientific basis whatsoever. Sharks can smell blood in the water, sure but not menstrual blood specifically. You’ll have to be pretty close to a shark to attract them towards you, and that can be with any kind of blood – or even just thrashing around.

Myth 2: Menstrual Blood Will Contaminate A Pool Or Ocean

Reality: Menstrual blood is not really that different from any other bodily fluid like sweat or saliva, which naturally occur in pools and oceans. Since public pools are treated with chlorine and many other disinfectants to maintain their cleanliness, they can deal with little blood too. But, using a tampon or a menstrual cup will prevent any blood in the water at all, and ensure a hygienic swimming experience for all.

Myth 3: Menstrual Products Won’t Work Well in Water

Reality: In fact, tampons and menstrual cups are specially designed to be effective in water, and when used correctly, they create a tight seal that prevents water from entering your body, allowing you to swim comfortably without any leakage. That is why, it’s important to choose the right absorbency level of a tampon or the right size of a menstrual cup to ensure effective protection.

Myth 4: Swimming Can Cause Menstrual Flow to Reverse or Get Stuck

Reality: Obviously, your menstrual flow is not affected by swimming. Your uterus contracts to expel the menstrual blood, and the process is not at all influenced by the pressure of the water. So, your flow will proceed as usual, regardless of whether you are swimming or not.

Myth 5: Swimming During Periods Causes Infections

Reality: If you’re following proper hygiene like changing out of your wet swimsuits immediately, and taking a shower after swimming, it will prevent infections. Period blood specifically has nothing to do with any of that. Just use clean and dry menstrual products, and follow the guidelines to prevent infections.

Myth 6: Swimming During Periods Causes Discomfort

Reality: Yes, some people do feel discomfort or have cramps during their periods, but many others feel swimming during their period is a relaxing activity. When you engage in physical activity, including swimming, it helps alleviate menstrual discomfort as it releases endorphins – natural pain relievers.

Myth 7: Others Will Notice

Reality: As long as you’re using the proper menstrual products like either a tampon, cup or disc, there is absolutely no actual visible sign that you’re on your period. These are discrete products that encourage you to live life and swim with confidence without worrying about others noticing.

How To Prevent Leaks While Swimming?

Preventing leakage while swimming during your period is very important for a confident and comfortable experience. Here is a guide on how to swim during periods:

1. Use Internal Products:

Tampons are designed to absorb menstrual blood internally, so pick the right absorbency level for your flow, and make sure you change it before and after swimming. Cups are inserted into your vagina to collect the blood, so you safely use a menstrual cup while swimming. These are super secure and can be worn for many hours without any leakage. A menstrual disc is the same thing as a cup, just in a different shape. There aren’t any pads for swimming during periods, but some swimwear brands even offer a built-in and leak-proof lining to prevent any leakage. Use these along with your menstrual products to hold them in securely.

2. Insertion Technique:

If you’re using a tampon, ensure it’s fully inserted by pushing it far enough inside to sit comfortably and create a seal. For a menstrual cup, follow its instructions carefully and check to see if it has unfolded fully inside you. Tug on it slightly to confirm a tight seal.

3. Choose the Right Absorbency:

Pick a cup that is the appropriate size, and choose a tampon with an appropriate absorbency level according to your flow. If you’re wondering do tampons absorb water while swimming, they might get a little water in them, since your vagina is not a waterproof opening.

4. Wear a Backup:

It’s normal to be worried about leaks, so you can wear a thin pantyliner, or any period-specific underwear as backup. This will give an added layer of protection.

5. Empty and Change Regularly:

Change your tampons and empty your menstrual cups immediately before and after swimming.

6. Regular Breaks:

Take regular bathroom breaks, not just to pee but to check, adjust, and change your menstrual products.

Dos and Don’ts Of Swimming On Your Period

1. DO Be Prepared:

Carry extra tampons, cups, or period underwear in a dry, waterproof bag. You could even carry an extra swimsuit – it never hurts to be prepared.

2. DO Stay Comfortable: 

Wear a comfy swimsuit that’s not too tight or loose, so that you can move around with ease. 

3. DO Be Mindful of Your Body: 

Listen to your body and take breaks if you feel tired or are experiencing discomfort. Make sure you’re hydrated and take sips of water during your breaks to maintain your energy levels.

4. DON’T Panic In Case Of A Leak: 

Stay calm and excuse yourself from the pool. Head to the restroom discreetly, and then figure out what to do. You can take a small towel to cover yourself up with.

5. DON’T Use Unreliable Products: 

You know that tissue paper or any other flimsy material is not effective so absolutely avoid using any makeshift or unreliable solutions, as they will most likely lead to embarrassing situations.

Although these myths around menstruation might try to hamper your living your best life, you should not pay any attention to it, and do what you like. Swim or don’t swim, exercise or don’t exercise — the point is, you CAN! Use reliable menstrual products and enjoy your next swim session absolutely stress-free!

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