What You Need to Know About Swimming On Your Period

Can you swim on your period? Before you take a dip, find out whether it's safe to swim while menstruating and the period products that can help keep your bottoms spotless.

young woman swimming under water during the day. shot from above the swimming pool
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If you're a menstruator, chances are you've been eerily warned of the activities and practices you generally shouldn't do while on your period. Skimping on sleep, for instance, could worsen your PMS symptoms, and getting a Brazilian wax while Aunt Flo is visiting, although totally safe, might be pretty uncomfy.

But can you swim on your period? Or is taking a dip mid-menstruation another major no-no? Here, Jane van Dis, M.D., an ob-gyn, assistant professor at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and medical advisor for FLEX, answers if you can go swimming on your period — and reveals if you actually need a tampon or menstrual product while yousplash around.

Can You Swim On Your Period?

If you feel like diving into the ocean or lake while you're menstruating, don't let your period stop you. It's absolutely safe to swim while on your period, and there aren't any potential health risks of doing so, says Dr. van Dis. Instead, swimming may help make your period a bit more tolerable. Aerobic activity — including swimming — can amp up your brain's production of endorphins, neurotransmitters that can relieve pain and improve your sense of well-being, according to the Mayo Clinic. (FTR, they're also responsible for that "runner's high" you get after a jog.) In turn, taking a dip could potentially help soothe period cramps, according to information published by Penn Medicine.

On the same token, swimming in the days leading up to and on the tail-end of your period could help minimize the unpleasant side effects you experience. Research shows that menstruators who regularly exercise have fewer painful cramps during their period, according to the Office on Women's Health. And a 2018 study found that menstruators who swam 30 minutes daily, three times a week, for three months — except during the first three days of their period — had less severe PMS symptoms, specifically when it came to headaches, fatigue, breast tenderness, and cramps.

Can You Swim On Your Period Without a Tampon?

As with swimming in general, it's okay to swim on your period without a tampon — or any menstrual product for that matter, says Dr. van Dis.

Whether you're lacking access or you simply don't feel like using one, going tampon-, cup-, or disc-free while wading in the water doesn't come with any serious health concerns or issues, she says. Still, there is one potential risk: "[You may] possibly have some bleeding that people can see as you're walking around the pool, lake, or ocean before or after swimming," she says. If you have Lizzo's sky-high level of confidence, though, a little bit of swimsuit staining is NBD. (

If you want to prevent potential leaks or blood spots on your bottoms by using a period product, you have options. Tampax's tampons, for example, are designed to absorb menstrual flow before it can leave your body and provide up to eight hours of protection. Saalt's reusable menstrual cups and FLEX's disposable discs, on the other hand, collect your flow and can be worn for up to 12 hours. And all of them can safely be worn while you take a dip, according to the brands' websites.

Still, some menstrual products are best used on dry land. "The only product I wouldn't recommend while swimming is a pad, as it could getwaterlogged and the adhesive will likely loosen, so the pad could fall off," says Dr. van Dis. If you'd prefer to stick with an external menstrual product while swimming, consider trying period swimwear, which is generally equipped with absorbent inner layers in the bottom's gusset to trap your flow.

All in all, "you should choose the product — or no product — that makes you feel the most comfortable," says Dr. van Dis."Swimming is amazing for your mind and body, and the last thing you need to think about is your period."

The Takeaway On Swimming On Your Period

Can you swim on your period? TL;DR: It's completely safe to go swimming on your period, whether you decide to wear protective swim bottoms, use a tampon, or go completely product-free. So if you desperately want to cannonball into a pool or float in a lake while menstruating, go ahead and make a splash, says Dr. van Dis. "Don't let your period hold you back from doing the things you enjoy and living an active lifestyle." (

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