Updated: Jul 16, 2020
I have worked as a dive instructor for the last 7 years in various locations around the world. Being a female comes with its own battles in this industry, but it also brings far more personal questions from other females who are just beginning their diving journey. I often get asked if it is still possible to dive whilst on your period, (yes it is) so I wanted to take this opportunity to spread some light on this topic.
Firstly, if it was not possible to dive while on your period, over the last 7 years I would have had so many sick weeks that it would make my job impossible to keep. So through this time, I have learned a few tricks and tips I want to share with you, so that mother nature doesn't ruin your next dive trip (or your awesome, fun wetsuit or diving leggings that you're diving in!)
So starting with the basics, can you dive whilst on your period? As I said already yes you can, but
you need to make sure you're protected. You are not protected to dive by wearing a pad, that's just going to get wet and be messy and unpleasant, but there are other options that you can consider.
Using tampons when scuba diving
The first and probably most common choice is tampons, both commercially available and relatively easy to use. Depending on your flow these can last from just an hour up to most of the day. A few tips about diving whilst using tampons mainly is to make sure you've got comfortable using them beforehand, and you know how to insert them properly. When diving with them, you want to make sure they will last for the full duration of the dive trip and a little while longer so you're not panicking when getting back to shore. One thing to note is most people will want to go and change it relatively promptly after diving as the string will be wet and therefore can be uncomfortable.
The downside of using tampons is the fact that these are disposable, by using these we are literally creating tons of plastic waste each year. Tampons generally come in a plastic wrapper, with a plastic applicator and a plastic string attached. Being an environmentally minded diver I had to question whether I really wanted to be putting chemically bleached, deodorized products inside me, which then end up in a landfill… or even worse as litter in our beautiful oceans, I decided I did not.
Diving with a menstrual cup
So I looked into what other options were
available, and let me introduce you to the menstrual cup. It’s a little device that has grown vastly in popularity over the last year or so and for good reason. This little medical-grade silicone cup has literally been life-changing, it has made my period so much easier to handle, especially during my travels and diving.
I’m not going to lie, it can be a bit tricky to get used to, you have to get up close and personal with yourself, and you do need to practice to get the insertion technique perfect (fold, insert, twist and pull). There may well be a few occasions at the beginning that you don’t get it correct, which can cause some leaks. However, once you have got the technique it is worth the effort and the mishaps.
Unlike tampons that need to be changed many times a day, the cup only needs to be emptied and cleaned once or twice a day even with a heavy flow. Cleaning the cup is simple, you take it out by simply pulling the end, empty it into the toilet and then wash it out. If you are in a single bathroom this is super easy just to give it a rinse under the tap or if you are in stalls you can even do this with bottled water. Then you replace it and you’re good to go for the rest of the day.
My general routine whilst using the cup is to clean it out in the morning in the privacy of my own room, for most days of my period I can then keep it in until I get home after the full day of diving. Occasionally I may need to empty it in the middle of the day. But this is solely dependent on my flow and diving makes no difference to it. Now my diving day does not have to be affected by my period.
It is very important to make sure you keep your cup clean, as I said this can be done with a tap or bottled water. I often even use tap water in countries I would not drink the water and I have not had any issues. To keep it sanitary it also needs to be sterilized occasionally. I usually do this in between periods, and it just takes a few minutes in boiling water. Even if you are traveling, most places will provide boiling water for breakfast simply pop the cup in a glass, cover it with water and wait a few minutes and it’s ready to be stored.
So now you can make your periods much less stressful and be environmentally friendly at the same time. Head online and get yourself one of these little cups so that you never have to postpone a dive trip again. Save yourself any risk of embarrassment on your future trips feel confident, secure and beautiful in your awesome ladies wetsuit! If you have any questions about this (or anything else dive related) just get in touch I’ll be happy to help.