You may have noticed that your menstrual period seems to stop temporarily when you go for a refreshing swim in cold water. Have you ever wondered why this happens? Ask around and most women will agree that they have noticed it too. Medically substantiated causes for this are hard to come by. Does swimming or bathing with cold water trigger some sort of restraining mechanism within the body, preventing the normal flow of the menstrual fluid? Well, not exactly. The link between cold water and your period is actually quite simple.
Let’s rule out common misconceptions one at a time. Cold water is not the only factor that causes your period to slow down or stop. In fact, the temperature of the water has nothing to do with it. Regardless of whether you’re swimming in the warm waters of the Caribbean or diving into a freezing lake, the effect on your menstrual flow will still be the same. So can water stop your period, not really! Does water stop it? Perhaps, briefly.
Can you stop menstrual periods simply by swimming? Your period does not stop; the menstrual fluid is merely prevented from flowing out of the body due to the counter-pressure of the water. The lining of the uterus continues to shed, and the flow will resume its normal passage once you are out of the water.
The position of your body while swimming also contributes to the slowing down or stopping of the flow of menstrual fluid. Swimming horizontally or floating in water reduces the effect of the force of gravity, which is unable to pull the menstrual flow downwards and out of the body as effectively as it normally would if you were standing upright. This is exactly why you’ll find your period reverting back to its normal flow once you are out of the water!
No, this reaction to water does not apply to all menstruating women. Some report experiencing a mere slowing down of the flow of menstrual fluid, while for others the flow continues as it normally would.
Many women worry about engaging in water based activities while they are on their periods, but really there’s no need for you to shy away from having fun!
A tampon can prevent a potentially uncomfortable post-swim situation. Since the menstrual fluid ceases to flow only on a temporary basis, you will leak once you step out of the water. Wearing a tampon will allow you to continue with other water based activities without the danger of leaking! Wearing a sanitary pad is not advisable since it will absorb water, become heavy and soaked, and will be unable to prevent leaking.
Find a brand of tampons that you are comfortable with, and be sure to change your tampon if you need to, based on your menstrual flow.