With summer finally here, it's likely your diary is getting booked up with beach trips and days out to the local lido. But, with all those bikini-focussed plans, what will happen when you're on your period? Can going in water actually stop your period flow?
It's a question many of us will have found ourselves asking at one point or another, often after getting stressed about putting on a swimsuit while menstruating. But, going for a swim whilst bleeding needn't be the BIG! SCARY! DEAL! we've been lead to believe it is.
However, that's not to say there aren't precautions we need to take – especially given the widespread misconception that being in water stops your period, something which you'll definitely have heard in the locker rooms on your year nine trip to the local leisure centre. So, once and for all, we wanted to find the answer to that age old question: does being in the water actually stop your period?
Dr Sarah Welsh, gynaecologist and co-founder of Hanx – which provides sustainable, sex-positive contraceptive solutions – has the answer...
Does your period stop in water?
"Your period doesn't stop in the water but being in the water does reduce the flow of blood out of your body, due to the pressure of the water on your body," Dr Welsh explains.
"Your period is still happening, but menstrual blood is not flowing out at the same rate it would outside of water. This may give the impression that the water is stopping your period, but this is not the case," the expert adds, offering that this is the reason why people might think your period stops altogether whilst you're in water.
Do you need to use any period products while in the water?
"You may decide to swim without using a tampon or any other menstrual products, and this is safe to do," Dr Welsh tells us. "However, there is a possibility of some leaking of menstrual blood during swimming, especially if you increase your abdominal pressure through laughing, coughing or any big movements (such as pushing off a wall or launching into a butterfly stroke)."
To avoid any unwanted leakage, Dr Welsh advises using a tampon or menstrual cup, although she reminds us that "it’s totally up to you – whatever makes you feel most comfortable." There are also exciting period-proof swimwear options now available, which might be up your street (see Cosmopolitan's review of the top hitters here).
With that in mind though, the expert emphasises: "It’s important to change your tampon after swimming as it will have soaked up pool/seawater and become fully absorbed!"
Will anyone notice if my period leaks?
Despite taking precautions, periods can be tricky little buggers and sometimes leaks are not preventable. But, worry not, as Dr Welsh points out, "A small leakage of blood would be diluted in the water, so it is very unlikely to be seen."
However, "if you have a heavy menstrual flow or are staying still in the water, it’s possible a little blood may pass out and be seen in clear water. If you increase your abdominal pressure, this may also allow some blood or clots to pass out of your vagina and be visible."
Swimming on your period
All in all, Dr Welsh reminds us not to let the fear of being on your period stop you from enjoying the benefits of life, or being in the water. "Go for it!" she tells us when asked whether or not we should swim whilst on our period. "It’s great exercise and can help with menstrual cramps."
On that note, we're off for a dip...
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