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Article: How to swim on your period

How to swim on your period

How to swim on your period

Don't let your period stop you from swimming. Tampons, menstrual cups, and period-friendly swimwear provide safe, effective options for the swimming pool or beach.

Read on to learn how to make swimming more comfortable and hassle-free while on your period.

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Different types of period products

How to choose the right product?

How to handle menstrual cramps?

How to maintain proper hygiene?

More useful tips

Period myths

Types of period products

When you want to go for a swim and keep your menstrual flow in check, you have several period product options to consider. Let’s learn more about them so you can decide what works best for your needs and comfort level.


Tampons are a popular choice for swimming while on your period. When inserted correctly, tampons expand inside the vagina to absorb menstrual blood before it exits the body. 

Choose a higher absorbency tampon designed specifically for sporting activities. Bring extras with you to the pool or beach in case you need to change after a few hours. Always wash your hands before removal and replace them frequently to lower the risk of infection or leaks.

Menstrual cups

Reusable menstrual cups collect (rather than absorb) period blood. Made from medical-grade silicone, rubber, or thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), they are inserted into the vagina to catch and contain flow. 

Look for cups designed for swimming with a firm, wide rim to prevent spilling or movement. Practice insertion at home first and read all the cleaning requirements. Empty it regularly every 2-4 hours.

Period pads

If you prefer using pads during your regular cycle, there are reusable cloth pads with a built-in absorbent liner to contain blood flow while swimming. Look for pads that securely adhere to the inner crotch of your bikini bottoms or swim shorts to prevent shifting and leaks. Our women’s high-waist bikini bottoms are great for this.

Change your period pads every 2-3 hours as you would normally to prevent overflow and maintain freshness. Use cleansing wipes or rinse externally with fresh water after swimming to keep the area clean and dry.

While regular pads may move around or leak if worn swimming, period swimwear allows pads to be an option when positioned correctly and worn with supportive bottoms.

Menstrual Discs

Menstrual discs are a reusable option for managing period flow while swimming. The smooth, flexible disc is inserted into the vagina to sit around the cervix, collecting menstrual blood before it exits the body.

Discs adapt to the shape of your vagina and conform securely even during the twisting, bending motions of swimming. This prevents leaks or spillage. The reservoir holds up to 3 times more blood than cups.

Look for discs made from medical-grade silicone or plastic. Ensure you have the correct size for your body. Empty it every 12 hours by looping your finger under the pull tab for mess-free removal, even in public restrooms.

Leak-proof swimwear

If you are not into internal options such as a tampon or cup, there are now leak-proof swimsuits and swim bottoms to supplement with pad usage. 

This period swimwear has a hidden-layer liner or absorbent gusset sewn into the crotch to catch any blood or leaks from your pad. This saves you from needing to wear an extra pair of tight shorts underneath.

How to choose the right menstrual product for swimming?

Take the following factors into account when you’re choosing the right menstrual product to wear for swimming:

  • Absorbency level. Consider your individual flow and whether a higher capacity is needed to manage heavy activity in the water.
  • Comfort and fit. Ensure the product doesn't feel bulky, move around, or chafe when swimming.
  • Leak protection. Pick an internal option or suit with a leak-proof liner to contain the flow.
  • Easy cleaning. Think if the product can be cleaned hygienically before and after swimming.
  • Discreet carrying. Does the product's portability allow for subtle and convenient changes as needed?
  • Water interaction. Choose a product specifically designed for use while immersed in water. Make sure it is suited to withstand the water pressure without issue.

How to handle menstrual cramps?

Period cramps or menstrual pain are one of the biggest obstacles you need to contend with during “these days.” The prostaglandins released during your cycle can cause the uterus to contract, which leads to unpleasant cramping in the pelvis, thighs, and lower back. Luckily, there are remedies you can try to alleviate or manage period cramps when they strike before and during swim sessions.

To ease period cramps naturally without medication, consider an over-the-counter supplement containing magnesium, ginger, cinnamon, or fennel. These nutrients and anti-inflammatory ingredients may help relax uterine muscles and promote circulation. You can also try to apply something warm (a hot water bottle, heating pad, or warm towel) for a bit of cramp relief by improving blood circulation to pelvic areas.

When period cramps are severe enough to impact your normal activities, don't hesitate to take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) painkillers such as ibuprofen, naproxen, or aspirin. They work by lowering prostaglandin production levels in the body. Avoid excessive use if you have stomach issues or asthma. Mild exercises such as walking, stretching, or foam rolling may also gently soothe period pain when performed consistently.

Be prepared and proactive with natural painkillers, heat therapy, massage tools, or appropriate medications that can help you push through period cramps. This way, you can carry on swimming and enjoying other pool and beach activities with less discomfort holding you back.

How to maintain proper hygiene?

When swimming during your period, it's important to practice healthy hygiene habits to stay clean, avoid leaks, and prevent odor. Here are some tips to follow:

  • Be sure to change your tampons, menstrual cups, or pads frequently—about every 2-4 hours. This will prevent overflow accidents and lower your risk of vaginal infections or TSS. Wash your hands thoroughly before and after changing period products. 
  • Rinse the external genital area with fresh water after exiting the pool if possible, rather than using chlorinated or saltwater. To change internal period products, make sure to use the changing room, washroom, or an appropriate private area away from the swimming pool. Change them frequently as needed for hygiene and wash your hands before heading back to the water.
  • Shower as soon as you finish swimming to wash away pool chemicals, sweat, and menstrual blood. Change out of your wet swimsuit promptly. Wash suits after each use to prevent lingering odors or stains.
  • Deodorant, cleansing wipes, and breathable cotton underwear can help meet hygiene needs that arise during your period. With these items, you can stay dry, confident, and comfortable.

More useful tips for swimming on your period

For females who want to keep swimming through their menstrual cycle, here are some more handy tips to make the experience more carefree.

  1. Stay hydrated
  2. Try heat therapy
  3. Know pool rules
  4. Stash emergency supplies
  5. Shower post-swim
  6. Moisturize areas
  7. Choose swimwear wisely

Stay hydrated 

Dehydration can aggravate period symptoms such as cramps and fatigue. Sip water before, during, and after swimming sessions. Avoid caffeine and alcohol which have diuretic effects leading to fluid loss. Bring a water bottle poolside and take regular breaks to drink up.

Try heat therapy

If cramps flare up while swimming, take a break and apply something warm—a hot pack wrapped in a towel works nicely. The heat boosts circulation to relax uterine muscles and help ease pain.

Know pool rules

Despite modern product innovations for period-friendly swimming, some pools still prohibit tampon usage due to outdated directives. Check updated health regulations before heading out to avoid problems accessing the facilities.

Stash emergency supplies

Come prepared with backup tampons, pads, and clean underwear in case heavy flows or leaks arise while at the pool or beach. This saves embarrassment and lets you quickly clean up and then hop back in the water worry-free.

Shower post-swim

Rinsing off post-swim washes away chlorine, sweat, and menses rather than sitting soaked on the commute home. This keeps you and your swimsuit fresher for longer and helps prevent infections and odors.

Moisturize areas

The vulva and vaginal tissues can grow irritated during menstruation, exacerbated by drying pool chemicals and saltwater. Apply a hypoallergenic moisturizer post-swim to protect the skin’s moisture barrier.

Choose swimwear wisely

Certain swimsuit materials and constructions fare better holding pad inserts in place and resisting stains from leaks. Black bottoms and dark-colored swimsuits are a far better option for swimming during your period, over light colors. Quick-dry fabrics also limit retained moisture triggering odor.

The most popular period myths

There are lots of misconceptions or “myths” going around about swimming while on your period that simply aren’t true. If you hear any of these, you’ll know better! 

"Tampons aren't allowed while swimming"

This is often false. While some older facilities still uphold outdated tampon bans, most public pools and beaches today allow properly contained tampon usage. Confirm updated regional health codes. With strings tucked in, tampons pose no contamination risk and prevent leaks better than pads alone. Still, have backup pads accessible just in case.

"Swimming during periods is unclean"

Menstrual flow itself poses no hygiene issue in pool water if using tampons or cups. Modern municipal water treatment systems filter out far larger contaminants effectively. As long as you change period products regularly and shower pre and post-swim, the activity remains highly sanitary. Leak-proof swimwear also allows for hygienic swimming with pads. 

"Cramps mean no swimming allowed"

For some women, exercise may ease period cramps. So don't automatically rule out swimming when cramps strike. Try remedies such as magnesium, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, chamomile, gentle stretching, heating pads, or non-prescription pain relief tablets beforehand. Check if the symptoms get better so you can try going in the water carefully.

"Sharks can smell menstrual blood"

Despite popular belief, no evidence suggests sharks can detect or pursue human menstrual fluid, even in open waters. Sharks rely mainly on sensing electric fields, movement, vibrations, and smells of potential prey rather than blood itself. Even large blood spills rarely trigger attacks.

The tiny amount of blood from a tampon, cup, or pad poses little increased risk of shark bites. No data correlates shark attacks with menstruating swimmers specifically. This myth probably comes more from the social stigma about periods than biological facts.

Does water pressure stop my period when I swim?

Water pressure does not stop period flow when swimming. Period blood may get diluted and swept away faster in water, continuing some discharge. So wearing period protection remains vital while swimming during your menstrual cycle.

Tampons and menstrual cups are specifically designed to withstand water pressure pushing inward while collecting flow. Leak-proof swim bottoms give extra containment to keep the pool and ocean water clean. Don’t assume that water pressure stops menstruation completely or forget to use products when swimming during your period.

Can you swim with a pad on during your period?

It is possible to swim while wearing a pad during your period. Traditional pads without added features may not stay put or adequately contain menstrual flow while submerged.

For swimming with pads, use reusable cloth pads or disposable pads specifically designed for water activities. They adhere securely to swimsuit bottoms and contain backup leak barriers. Pair them with snug-fitting swim bottoms or shorts for extra protection against shifting.

Choose SwimZip swimwear

At SwimZip, we design our swimsuits with active comfort in mind. Our durable, quick-drying fabrics and secure coverage make our women’s swim bottoms a great option for swimming during your period.

Pair our stylish, functional, and affordable swimwear with your preferred hygiene products and supplements to stay dry and comfortable. We are also one of the most trusted UPF 50+ brands that people use to keep themselves and their loved ones safe from the sun.

We offer clothing and accessories for every member of the family, including swim trunks for men, swimwear for women, sunsuits for kids, sun hats, rash guards, and accessories.

We look forward to many more years of making UV protection a zip and keeping you comfortable!

Swim on your period FAQ

Does period swimwear work?

Period swimwear works. It helps contain menstrual blood flow while swimming. Special swimwear for periods features a lining that absorbs flow, along with a snug yet comfortable fit and leak-resistant fabrics that prevent accidents and stains during water activities. This type of swimwear gives women the freedom and confidence to swim, exercise, and enjoy the water even during their periods.

Will period blood show in the pool?

It is highly unlikely that period blood will show in the pool. When using a tampon or menstrual cup, any menstrual blood is typically contained and would not be released into the water. Even if a small amount of blood were to come out, it would be diluted by the water and not visible. Swimming pools are treated with chlorine to prevent the spread of disease, so swimming during your period is not unhygienic and does not pose any potential health risk to others.

How can I shorten my period naturally?

To potentially shorten your menstrual period naturally, you should:

  • Stay hydrated
  • Exercise regularly
  • Use hormonal contraceptive pills
  • Reduce stress through yoga and meditation
  • Take anti-inflammatory supplements such as omega-3s or turmeric
  • Consider safe herbal remedies (ginger, chamomile tea, or magnesium)

Remember to always consult your doctor before changing diet, exercise, or supplements.

Does contaminated water affect your period?

Exposure to contaminated water could potentially impact menstrual health and cycle regularity. Chemical pollutants and bacteria may disrupt your endocrine system, while toxic metals like lead that accumulate in body tissue can affect many aspects of reproductive health. 

Are aerobic exercises good for painful period cramps?

Gentle aerobic exercises (walking, swimming, or cycling) can relieve painful period cramps. The increase in blood flow reduces cramping and also triggers your body's natural painkillers. However, you should avoid high-impact workouts during heavy flows. Start slow, stretch first, stay hydrated, and listen to your body. Yoga helps too.

Can I use placebo pills for lighter flows on pool days?

Placebo pills are inactive and will not lighten your flow or provide period protection for swimming and pool days. Placebos are found in certain birth control pill packs. To potentially lighten your flow while swimming, consider low-dose birth control pills to shorten and lighten the period week. 

What are the best period underwear options for swimming laps?

Most period underwear is designed primarily for daily wear, not swimming laps or water activities. Look for special leak-proof swimsuits with built-in padded lining for absorbing menstrual flow when swimming laps or doing light exercises in water. Waterproof bather bottoms combined with period underwear provide extra backup on heavy-flow days. Some newer "swimming thong" styles adapt regular underwear into pool and beach options.

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