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Swimming With Your Period

It’s time to get real about periods and pools. Many women are fearful and nervous about going swimming when they have their period but truth be told, it’s very manageable.

I find it fascinating the number of people who will not swim when they have their period. I’ve spoken to friends who admit they can’t get their head around swimming when you have your period. I am a former competitive swimmer and managing my period and swimming was something normal in my life. Recently I asked my friends “how do you think I swam all those years and didn’t take a week off when I had my period?” – they shrug their shoulders. They can’t fathom swimming while having their period. “I just don’t understand how it works.” “I would never swim on holidays if I had my period.” These are girls who have had their period for well over ten years at this stage, who are still nervous about periods and pools.

It’s not something they, or any other woman or girl, should be fearful of. We are in a society where discussing your period or menstrual cycle can be a little awkward or uncomfortable, when really – 50% of the population will have a period at some stage in their life, so what’s the big deal?

In hindsight, I was lucky to be in the sport where it was something you had to deal with and had a mom who simply handed me a box of tampons when I was 12 years old. She did not let my period get in the way of my sport. I got my period on Wednesday, went for a practice swim with a tampon on Thursday and raced on Saturday. In competitive swimming, you either learn how to manage it or you don’t swim.

We’re here to start the conversation, reduce the fear and show you that you CAN swim while you have your period.

Let’s break it down..

Tampons are sometimes feared and untrusted but honestly I would be lost without them. Sometimes they can be uncomfortable but find the right size and get used to wearing them if you don’t already. Using a tampon in the pool feels just the same as walking around on land.

Get an understanding of the time you have available with a tampon. Will it last you for one, two or three hours? Try to put the tampon in right before you go swimming so you don’t feel under pressure to change it, whether it is in the middle of a group training session or on holidays with your friends.

Understanding your cycle will also help to figure out the timings. Some days are heavier (usually at the start of a period) and other days lighter. Equip yourself with the knowledge and understanding of your body – confidence will follow!

Always have spares. You may feel nervous, you still don’t fully trust them. That’s ok! If you feel you need to change it – DO! You may want to stay longer at the pool or beach, plans change – prepare for it.

The menstrual cup is now presenting as an option. It’s not something I have personally tried yet, but after learning more from the Her Sport Article “All You Need To Know”, I will be soon. With more time available and less to worry about, it could be the solution.

Top Tips:

  • Black or navy swimming togs/bikini bottoms are your safest option
  • Do a quick check before you leave the bathroom for the string to make sure it’s tucked in.
  • Always have tampons in your swimming bag – your period may come when you’re not expecting it.
  • Don’t let it ruin your fun!

Educate your daughters. Educate your friends. Don’t let periods stop girls from participating in sport

HerSport Editor

Her Sport is a media platform centred on bringing the latest Irish and international women’s sports news. Her Sport aims to empower women in sport, inspire more female participation, increase opportunity and level the playing field for future generations. Our objective is to create real and tangible change.

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