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Dear Dish-It: Swimming With My Period

March 18, 2012

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Dear Dish-It,

I am going swimming with my friend and a girl four years younger than me, and i am due to be on my period. I really want to go swimming and have fun but how do I cover up the fact that I am on my period?

Little-miss-monthly

Dear LMM,

Great question! It’s something a lot of girls wonder about, especially when they’re just starting to get their periods regularly.

First off, it’s a big myth that girls can’t go into the water when they have their periods. There's no actual reason, physical or otherwise, that menstruation bars you from the water. Female lifeguards, aquatic biologists, Olympic swimmers and divers all venture into the water during their period. You can, too.

For some women, their period actually stops when they go in the water – not completely, but no blood comes gushing out. But if you still want to take some extra steps to make sure your swim date goes smoothly, here are some steps you can follow:

  1. Choose a good location. You might be uneasy going into a pool during your period. Although the fear is that you'll somehow leak or show, you can choose a larger body of water, like a lake or ocean where it's much less likely anything would be noticed.
  2. Use a tampon. You can swim (and do nearly every everyday activity) while wearing a tampon. However, never use for more than 8 hours, as this increases the chance of Toxic Shock Syndrome. Remember to use a less absorbent tampon if you are less experienced.
  3. Try a menstrual cup. This feminine hygiene product may be unfamiliar to many women, but is an option many prefer. It HOLDS the flow rather than absorbing it, so that you can be as active as you like. Be sure to ask your mom or doctor before you try this one out.
  4. Just wade. Wear a nice pair of shorts or a pair of skorts and simply wade in as much as you can. You can still be around your friends and you don't need to make any detailed explanations - just say that you think the water's too cold or that you're not feeling up to swimming that day.
  5. Just Say: "I don't want to swim right now because I'm on my period." If everyone present is female, they'll probably understand. If you're in mixed company, the boys will probably be too embarrassed to give you a hard time about it.

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