Swimming Without a Tampon: What Will & Won’t Work

Ah summer; when young menstruators’ thoughts turn to pool parties with friends, long days on sandy beaches by the sea, and family vacations to cottages on lakes. As we start to add these exciting events into our summer calendars, we can go from feeling cheerful anticipation, to feeling dread. If we keep track of our menstrual cycles, it may become obvious that there will be some point in the summer that we’ll be expected to show up somewhere in a swimsuit, while BLEEDING.

(dun dun dunnnnnnnn).

As soon as the weather begins to turn warm in the northern hemisphere, we here at Lunapads HQ start to get desperate phone calls, live chats and emails. “Do you have any pads without wings, for swimming?” “Are Lunapanties visible under swimsuits?” Many of the inquiries come to us from an old article on the livestrong website that specifically links to us and claims – incorrectly – that Lunapads are good for swimming. We’ve tried repeatedly to have that article either corrected or removed over the years, but so far, no one has obliged (what’s up with that, livestrong.com?!).

And so we have to break the news to our hopeful period-swimmers: “No, sorry; neither Lunapads nor Lunapanties will be of any use for swimming.”

(sad trombone)

Basically, anything you wear externally (ie. stuck in your underwear or your swimsuit) that’s absorbent enough to catch menstrual flow is going to be really good at absorbing water – whether you’re at the pool, the seaside or the lake. And once that pad or period underwear is completely saturated with water, it’s got no love left for absorbing menstrual flow…so you might as well be swimming with no protection at all! As Madeleine pointed out in an earlier blog post about swimming while you have your period, this might not be such a big deal if you’re in a big natural body of water like the ocean or a Great Lake, but not recommended for public pools for obvious reasons. Additionally, think about what it would be like to have a soggy dripping wet pad between your legs once you get out of the water. Yikes!

Currently, the only products that are really appropriate for keeping your menstrual flow your little secret during swimming are those of the internally worn variety. We, of course, adore the magical DivaCup, and what’s not to love? You put it in when you wake up, you can’t feel it at all once it’s inserted correctly, it won’t leak, and you can wear it for up to 12 hours without having to empty it! I can’t think of a more perfect solution for a long gorgeous day at the beach (or a hike, or a camping trip, or an outdoor musical festival or…anything, really!).

But, there are some people for whom internally worn products (whether menstrual cups, sea sponges or tampons) are not an option. In that case, not all hope is necessarily lost. We did have a very happy mom call to tell us that she bought our leakproof Luna Undies for her daughter to wear under her swim bottoms for a birthday pool party, and because her daughter’s flow is fairly light, she was able to get through the whole four hours without needing to change or head home. While she didn’t swim, she was able to engage in some wading and splashing and everything was fine!

So, hey, even if you’re not going to be doing mermaid dives and underwater somersaults, don’t let your period stop you from going out to have a good old summer-y time! After all, it’ll be hot cocoa and fuzzy sweaters weather again before you know it. (Sorry for the reminder…)

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  • Hannah

    I just go wearing a three piece bathing suit with all the pieces like shorts top bottoms and no one knows

  • lexie lane

    Babysitting on my period… I know i’ll have to be swimming with the boy today :/ Don’t wear tampons they’re uncomfortable…. 🙁 Wish me luck

  • Ana

    i’m still afraid to enjoy my vacation at the sea..

    I hate it

    • Ana

      btw I don’t want to use tampon or something like that … ._. it’s uncomfortable

      • Steelers

        I know right to uncomfortable to were and going to pool tomorrow with friends and scared of how to get into the water without bleeding threw my bathing suit

        • Isabella Pucci

          It’s uncomfortable if you place it wrong however I tried one for the first time and when I placed it correctly I didn’t feel it at all im going to a water park tomorrow and I hope the tampon works haha

  • blabla

    ok i decided to just wear liners while in the pool because your flow will be lessen because the lining of the uterus will close and wont let any water come in but in some cases they have still a little bit of LEAK

  • Be safe

    I know this article’s old, but it’s really dangerous to use stick sea sponges inside of you. Here’s a quote from the first sourced article: “Dr. Jen notes that the sponges are ‘untested and potentially very unsafe’. Plus, the sponges can be filled with dirt, grit, and all kinds of other stuff you reeeeally don’t want to be putting inside your vagina. … ‘One sample contained Staphylococcus aureus (the bacteria that causes toxic shock syndrome). As the FDA notes there is least one case of toxic shock syndrome associated with the sea sponge and another possible one.’”