It's summer, enjoy swimming with your period?
I’m so happy it’s summer! I love the warm temperature, being outside, the flowers and the trees blooming, the long days, the sun… I also love, love, love being in the water and swimming. It’s the best way to cool down on a hot summer day, and I feel so free in the water because there’s less gravity. But swimming with your period isn't always easy.
It's not stress free
The only thing that bothers me, is that I always worry about my period. And those worries can really affect my joy of swimming. It doesn’t have to be a problem to swim while you’re on your period, there are some tools that can help, like tampons or a menstrual cup for example. I’ve swam many times with tampons since my period is always there. However when the circumstances are too bad because my period is too heavy, I can’t go. In these situations, I have to change my tampon or pad very, very often. They simply don’t offer me enough protection and I need to use pads in combination. Pads are definitely not made for swimming, they fill up with water. And with the insecurity that comes along with all of this, I just really don’t want to be in a bikini.
This is one of the annoying limitations I experience from my period problems. Luckily my period isn’t constantly this heavy. The situation now already sucks, but that would suck even more!
Swimming has a positive effect on your period and period symptoms
Did you know swimming actually has a positive effect on your period? When we work out our body starts to produce endorphins which are a natural painkiller. That can be very helpful when you have a lot of cramps and they can also have a positive effect on PMS symptoms. Besides that, swimming also reduces the amount of prostaglandin in our bodies. And these hormones play a big role in the contraction of our muscles, such as our uterus.
Some people think that your period stops when you’re underwater, but unfortunately, that’s not true. The water only works against the force of gravity contracting your flow. But you’re still bleeding and when you get out of the water, or infact sneeze or laugh the force of gravity is countered and you bleed.
How to swim when you are on your period?
Tampons are a good option, but it’s best to use organic cotton ones, they are better for you and the planet with no pesticides, chlorine or plastic. Tampons can absorb the water when it’s not inserted properly and in some cases it can also absorb water through the string. The water can contain bacteria and you don’t want the tampon in there for too long so you should change them after your swim if possible. Certainly change your tampon as often as you would if you weren’t swimming.
Use menstrual cup:
Another option is the menstrual cup. Last year I tried swimming with a cup for the first time when I was in Barcelona. I have to say I was kind of nervous about it, but it worked really, really well! It didn’t leak, and I really enjoyed my time on the beach.
Use menstrual sponge:
Another thing that I haven’t tried yet, but I definitely will, are menstrual sponges. I heard they’re easy to use, comfortable and non-irritating. They’re also reusable and biodegradable and therefore environmentally friendly, and that’s what we all want right?!
Stopping your period altogether:
Something I hear and read a lot about, is women deciding to take the pill continuously so they don’t experience any of these inconveniences. But I think that’s one of the worst things you can do, stuffing your body with these synthetic hormones and messing with your cycle. Doctors say it’s really not a problem, but they are also the ones recommending the pill and I’m not a fan of it.
Go swimming on your period - it helps!
The last couple of weeks I have felt an strong urge to go swimming. It’s like the water is calling me. Every day I just want to go to the beach or the water here in Amsterdam. I wonder if that is a coincidence or my body longing for the positive effects of the water? Or maybe just a sign of dehydration…(and too many cocktails?!)
Anyway, we have a couple of beautiful summer days ahead of us, and I can’t wait!
I hope you enjoy swimming – in fact go swimming on your period – it helps!
by Louka, August 2020
Read more about Louka & her incredible journey with (n)ever-ending periods - all told with incredible honesty and bravery.
Start with her first guest post of Mondays with Louka.