Can You Go Swimming On Your Period?

There are so many myths and misunderstandings related to the menstrual cycle, partially due to the lack of quality research into periods and how they affect health, which is why it's so important to talk openly about menstruation. And one particular myth that simply refuses to die relates to swimming on your period — namely, that you can't do it.

Let's clear that one up right away: yes, you can go swimming on your period. But in case you don't want to take our word for it, we asked an expert whether it's safe to go swimming on your period, and for any precautions you should take when you are swimming on your period. Here's what she said.

Experts Featured in This Article

Sherry Ross, MD, is an ob-gyn and author of "She-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women's Intimate Health. Period."

Can You Go Swimming On Your Period?

"You definitely can go swimming on your period," says Sherry Ross, MD, ob-gyn and author of "She-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women's Intimate Health. Period." But she inclues one caveat: you can swim on your period, "as long as you are using the appropriate feminine hygiene products to collect the blood inside the vagina." This includes a tampon or a menstrual cup; pads may not be the best option, since they can soak in water, preventing them from being able to absorb blood.

Dr. Ross specifies that because there's another mentrual myth that your period stops while you're in the water. It doesn't, so you'll need your normal period product.

Additionally, there are a few changes you can make to your usual routine when you're swimming on your period. For one, Dr. Ross suggests putting in a fresh tampon or a clean menstrual cup before getting into the water. If you wear a tampon, change it when you get out. While tampons can remain in for four to eight hours before needing to be changed, when you're swimming it's possible that the outermost layer and string will absorb some water, and that extra moisture could create an environment that allows yeast to thrive, increasing your risk of a yeast infection. (It's why you shouldn't sit around for too long in a damp swimsuit, either.)

With menstrual cups, they can be worn for up to 12 hours. If you'll be at the pool or beach for longer than that, make sure you're ready with the products you'll need to clean it. It could be a challenge, especially if you're at the beach — you don't want any sand to make it's way onto or into your cup before you replace it.

All told, there's nothing inherently harmful or unclean about swimming while on your period. Just be ready with backup tampons, and you may want to consider bringing along some gentle, fragrance-free feminine wipes (since the bathroom situation can be hit or miss at the beach or a pool) too. And, of course, don't forget the SPF.

— Additional reporting by Mirel Zaman

Christina Stiehl is a former senior editor for PS Fitness. Her work has appeared in SELF, VICE, SHAPE, Men's Health, Thrillist, and more. She's passionate about advocating for mental health and erasing the stigma associated with mental illness.

Mirel Zaman is the wellness director at PS. She has nearly 15 years of experience working in the health and wellness space, writing and editing articles about fitness, general health, mental health, relationships and sex, food and nutrition, astrology, spirituality, family and parenting, culture, and news.