Is it Safe to Swim with a Tampon?
Updated: Jan 16, 2020
There are lots of things women and girls wonder about regarding tampons, but one of the most frequently asked is whether or not tampons are safe to swim with.
To some, this may seem like an odd question, since tampons are often advertised as being designed for swimming and other athletic activities. However, there are several important things to keep in mind when swimming with a tampon, or swimming on your period in general. In this article, we'll look at several myths about swimming with a tampon, and whether or not there's any truth to them.
1. You don't need to wear anything in the water when you're on your period.
This one is partially true and partially false. It's true that when your body is surrounded by water, the pressure will keep period blood from leaving your body, so in that sense you don't need to wear anything in the water. However, as soon as you leave the water, your period will go right back to normal, so unless you're ready to make a mad dash to the locker room, you'll want to wear something.
2. A tampon will immediately soak up the water, making it useless at holding menstrual blood.
This one is also partially true. A tampon will absorb water from the pool, ocean, or lake, even when it's inside your body. This is why it's vital that you change your tampon immediately after you're done swimming. If you don't, you're basically holding a piece of cotton filled with the water you were swimming in inside your vagina.
However, as we said earlier, while you're in the water you won't be bleeding very much anyway, so your tampon will be equally as effective wet as it would be dry. As long as you spend a relatively short time in the water (an hour or less), and change your tampon right away, wearing a tampon while swimming is still pretty safe.
3. Tampons are the only way you can swim on your period.
This one is entirely false. Setting aside the fact that menstrual cups are safer, internally-worn alternatives to tampons in many ways, you can actually wear a pad in the water. You may have heard that if you wear a pad into a pool, it'll swell up with water, or that it'll spread blood everywhere. Both of these are false. If you wear a pad in the water, it will absorb water, just like a tampon. However, it won't swell any more than a cotton blouse would swell up when submerged in water.
Your pad also won't spread blood throughout the pool. Because you won't be bleeding much while in the water, your pad is mostly a safeguard for getting in and out of the water. Unless you're wearing a dirty, blood-soaked pad when you head into the water (which of course you wouldn't be), there's just no way your pad is going to transfer blood from your body to the water.
The Bottom Line
Wearing a tampon into the water isn't as safe as wearing a cup or a pad (a cup won't absorb water and a pad won't keep water inside your vagina like a tampon will), it's unlikely that it'll be harmful to you. If you have concerns about it, however, consider trying a pad instead. You can use a liner or a small pad in your regular swimsuit, or make things simpler by switching to period swimwear, such as the kind offered through Ruby Love.