Have you ever been stuck at home and bummed on a beautiful summer day because all of your friends are out at the pool swimming and having fun? Is it because you’re on your period and you don’t feel comfortable getting in the water? Don’t worry! We’ve got some tips to help you feel a little bit more period positive in the pool while on your period, even if you prefer pads over tampons!
Period shaming, similar to the scenario described above, has been going on since the dawn of time. Last summer, the banning of menstruating women from a pool in Tbilisi, Georgia wasn’t actually out of the patriarchal cultural norm that perpetrates the undercurrents of most contemporary cultures. Historically, there are hundreds of examples of women’s menstruation being used as an excuse to exclude women and ostracize them from places of power, such as temples and schools. To help turn the tide, we’re want to encourage women to fight back with knowledge. Swimming while you have your period is totally OK and this post will prove that.
Many women think that they have to wear a tampon while swimming for their own comfort and for that of others. While this is probably the most effective method in preventing any blood/chlorine interaction, you can choose to wear a pad into the water without being (or feeling like) a public health hazard. For many women and teens, pads are still preferable to tampons, menstrual cups or anything that has to be placed internally.
It’s arguable that the cultural stigma against wearing pads in the water is perpetrated by the industry to increase tampon sales. The Vake Fitness Club justified their decision to ask women on their periods not to enter the pool, as an attempt to prevent “water contamination.” This would indeed be valid if there was any scientific or biological proof that the interaction of menstrual blood and pool water was a health threat. Chlorine’s innate chemical makeup and effect is to annihilate all germs. It’s why pools don’t stop peeing children and teenagers with scabby knees from entering the pool — the health threat is the same — negligible.
We’ve read that “the pressure of the water on the outside of the vaginal opening prevents any leaking while you are in the water” so you shouldn’t feel afraid to do your handstands, flips, and relays. While the buoyancy of the water may lighten your flow, once you step back onto dry land gravity kicks in and can bring blood raining down. In those cases, we definitely recommend a lighter pad with strong adhesive flaps so you still feel flexible, free and mermaid-esque while underwater .
Should anyone stop you from swimming, here are three facts to debunk those common misogynistic myths:
1. Period leaks do NOT cause water contamination. There are worse things!
Confirmed by the Center for Disease Control – the standard levels of chlorine in any pool kill any germs hosted in blood. To get a bit more realistic, there are much grosser germs floating around in pools than what is carried in women’s uteri and they do take time to become neutralized. It’s estimated that each swimmer brings 0.14 grams of fecal matter into the pool on average.
2. Menstrual blood can NOT host a sexually transmitted infection in pool water.
There is no evidence that menstrual blood, or any blood carrying pathogens like Hepatitis C or HIV, causes infections in swimmers. While germs can live on in chlorine for hours, the transmission route from pool water to bodily fluid through a cut or opening hasn’t been previously recorded. In fact, the CDC doesn’t require entities to drain a pool if there has been a blood spillage, but identifies that they “may choose to do so temporarily to satisfy patrons.”
3. ALL swimmers should shower before entering the pool.
This is gender, race, smell-blind. Perspiration, body oil, urine, fecal matter, and other waste live on our bodies at all times. Showering before and after swimming is actually the most hygienic for all parties involved.
All in all, we advise you to never let your period stop you from having fun and doing what you want to do. As long as you’re prepared for the pool with some healthy period products like Maxim Hygiene and a positive attitude, we say, dive in!