Why Swimming During Your Period Is Both Safe and Recommended

No reason to stay off the beach or out of the pool

Have you been told it is not safe to swim during your menstrual period? If so, you’ve been misinformed. Swimming is absolutely fine for you during your menstrual period.

In fact, while you are menstruating you can pretty much do anything that you do at all other times of the month. And yes, that includes all activities from swimming to sex.

Woman floating on her back, swimming in ocean
Nisian Hughes / Getty Images

Facts About Swimming and Menses

Most of the information that you find recommending restricting your physical activity during your period is based on cultural beliefs, taboos, and myths about menstruation. Being in the water while you are menstruating does not put you at ​an increased risk of infection.

Also, there are no changes in your body during your period that would make you more susceptible to injury while swimming.

Another common fear about swimming in the ocean during your period is the thought that menstrual blood will attract sharks. Although it sounds like a compelling reason to pass up on a swim, there’s no evidence that people who are menstruating are more likely than anyone else to attract sharks.

The most important thing to consider when swimming with your period is to be sure that you have adequate protection to control your bleeding.

Menstrual Products for Swimming

Your best choice for menstrual products for swimming is either a tampon or a menstrual cup. Pads don’t work because they can’t absorb your menstrual flow once they get wet. You can end up with visible stains on your swimwear, and some of your flow will leak into the water.

When using a tampon for swimming, you may need one of higher absorbency. Some water will be absorbed by the tampon, making it swell a little and have less absorbency for your flow.

You may find that you have to change your tampon more frequently. Bring extra along so you can change after your swim. As always, do not wear a tampon for more than eight hours as that increases the risk of toxic shock syndrome.

If you are comfortable using a menstrual cup, this is an excellent option for swimming because it does not absorb any water that may enter your vagina.

Benefits of Swimming During Your Period

Not only is it safe to go swimming during your period, but it is also a good idea. Staying active has been shown to help ease the cramping and fatigue that some people experience during their monthly period.

Swimming, in particular, can be very helpful. Since your body is buoyant in the water, you may not notice the discomfort of the bloating that you may have during your period. Gentle non-swimming aquatic exercise has also been shown to be very helpful in managing painful periods.

Swimming or other aquatic exercises might be a great way to get pain and stress relief during your period. Even if you are simply wading at the beach, don’t let your period stop you from enjoying a nice day in the sun. Just don’t forget to pack a few extra tampons along with your sunscreen.

A Word From Verywell

From competitive swimming to a soak in a hot tub, it is fine to be in the water during your period. Not only is it perfectly safe, it can be therapeutic as well.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Will water stop the flow of your period?

    Yes, but not necessarily completely. Water pressure should temporarily stop the flow of your period, but if you laugh, sneeze, or cough, blood may leak out. If your period is very light, you will probably be fine swimming. However, water is less likely to hold back a heavy period.

  • What can you wear while swimming on your period?

    A tampon or menstrual cup can be worn to contain your period while swimming. Consider using one size up from your usual tampon when swimming. The tampon may absorb a little water, so sizing up can help ensure it can still contain your flow. Changing the tampon after swimming can help prevent leaks.

    A menstrual cup will not absorb water and can be used as usual during swimming.

  • Will a shark attack you if you swim in the ocean with your period?

    There is no evidence to support the fear that swimming while on your period will attract sharks. While sharks can smell blood and other body fluids underwater, their ability to do so has been exaggerated. In addition, many women safely dive while menstruating. There is no link to an increased risk of shark bites in women who have their period.

2 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Florida Museum of Natural History. Menstruation and sharks.

  2. Rezvani S, Taghian F, Valiani M. The effect of aquatic exercises on primary dysmenorrhoea in nonathlete girls. Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res. 2013;18(5):378-383.

Additional Reading

By Tracee Cornforth
Tracee Cornforth is a freelance writer who covers menstruation, menstrual disorders, and other women's health issues.