Girls in red swimsuits floating side by side in a pool

How Do Swimmers Deal With Periods?

You're done with training, and your gear is all packed. Everything's now set for that exciting swim meet. Then you suddenly realize that Auntie Flo is on her way! What do you do then? Do you suspend your enjoyment of swimming for an entire week that you're on the rag? How about the hours that you put into practice? Hold it right there! Before unpacking your swim bag, know that your lady business doesn't have to rain on your parade! Top female swimmers have been able to successfully manage their periods without having to give up their favorite sport. Through this post, we'd like to help you find the answer to this most frequently asked question: "How do swimmers deal with periods?" So, get ready and dive right in! 

Top misconceptions about swimming and periods

 First, let's tackle some of the most common fallacies that you need to get rid of about swimming during  periods. These wrong notions can definitely dampen the groove of any swimmer: 

Myth No. 1: It's dangerous to swim while menstruating.

The fact is that pool or ocean water will not seep into your private parts and mix with your feminine fluids. This is regardless of whether you're on your period or not. 

Myth No. 2: Sharks can sniff you out and attack you.

There's no evidence that sharks are specifically drawn to menstrual blood. It's possible, though, that the presence of blood, combined with other body fluids, can excite them. Sharks are also attracted to the "wrong" colors (yellow, white, or silver) and to human vibrations (such as heartbeats and respiratory movements). So, it doesn't matter if you're on your period or not—you can still “sound” like a tasty morsel! Thus, you may want to ditch swimming in open seas or opt for shallower waters. 

Myth No. 3: Swimming will give you bad cramps. 

Uh, no… Cramps can be part of your monthly PMS package that comes with the crimson tide. This means that swimming has nothing to do with it—quite the contrary. Doing your freestyles and backstrokes can actually help ease your muscular spasms and other symptoms of dysmenorrhea. Studies show that water exercises such as swimming can even relax the muscles, reducing pain and relieving garden-variety cramps. 

Myth No. 4: Swimming on your period is unsanitary.

If you have this notion that bleeding in the pool will make it "unhygienic," you may want to rethink that. The truth is that menstrual blood is just as "clean" as the blood that flows in our veins. So, swimming during your period is quite harmless even for others, provided you don't have any bloodborne diseases. 

Best tips for swimmers while on their period  

So, how do swimmers deal with periods then? Learn these super practical and effective hacks from some of the most famous swimming athletes who deliver top-notch performance regardless of the time of the month.

1. Having a support network 

For Catherine Michelle "Katie" Meili, an Olympic bronze and gold medalist from the U.S., your period shouldn't stop you from delivering peak performance. Instead, the former American competitive swimmer says that one has to simply deal with it and get on top of their monthly cycle—even through painful days. 

So, how should sportswomen go about it then? According to Meili, you need to get support. And the way to receive (and give!) support starts from being open. She says this comes naturally to swimmers as they have to change into and out of swimsuits before other competitors or team members every day. Openness enables them to be more accepting and supportive of each other. Meili believes the support of her fellow female athletes helped her "stay afloat" during difficult times. 

2. Being honest

Chinese swimmer Fu Yuanhui became a trendsetter overnight for "announcing" to the world that she was menstruating. When asked why she was wincing during an interview, the Rio Olympics athlete said she was in pain and feeling really weak because of her menstruation. At the same time, she didn't give this as an excuse and admitted that she just wasn’t able to perform well. But the way she naturally discussed menstruation turned her into an overnight sensation. Such efforts are necessary to break the prevalent taboos about discussing menstruation in swimming or any other sport. 

Treating periods like any other normal subject, just like Fu Yuanhui did, can help swimmers get the support they need during their menstrual cycles. It can also boost efforts to increase public awareness about periods. This should lead to the development of more efficacious health and training programs specially designed for female athletes.

3. Cycle syncing

Getting much-needed support from fellow athletes, the general public, or sports institutions is critical for any swimmer. But on top of this, some top-level athletes take the next level with cycle syncing. This is a biohacking practice where you implement lifestyle changes according to the different phases of your monthly cycle. 

For example, Olympic coach Catherine Vogt relays that elite swimmers would work their periods around their competition schedules by taking birth control pills. Many others design their diets and workouts to meet their bodies' hormonal needs.  

4. Taking pain relievers

Although swimming isn't the likely trigger for the usual muscle spasms, this doesn't change how painful they can get. So, it's become common for swimmers to take safe yet effective painkillers to relieve cramps, such as Ibuprofen or naproxen sodium. If it's typical for you to experience cramping, you may want to take these over-the-counter meds at the beginning of your period. Remember to check with your doctor to ensure you're taking the right medication in the proper doses. 

5. Wearing period apparel

Smart swimmers know that the right gear can make or break training routines and competitions. So to ensure leak-proof and worry-free movements in and out of the water, they have come to trust one of the most helpful innovations for the modern sportswoman: period apparel. 

For instance, the pioneering company Ruby Love has created the ideal period panty for women. These undies have a one-of-a-kind center panel to keep pads in place, effectively protecting you from shifting and chafing. On top of these, Ruby Love Period Underwear boasts of an extra-absorbent layer to provide three tampons’ worth of protection. 

But Ruby Love hasn't left swimmers in the lurch either with period gear specifically designed for female athletes. Our Period Swimwear, for example, is equipped with a perfectly angled gusset to help collect flow immediately. It also features dri-tech mesh that prevents side, front, and back spills. 

Ruby Love's One-Piece- and Two-Piece Period Swimsuits and Swim Bottoms can even be worn on their own or with a pad, tampon, or menstrual cup, depending on your flow. So do as the champion swimmers do—wear only Ruby Love, the most trusted brand in period underwear. Shop our fantastic period collection and swim with confidence today!

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