Girl’s talk – Diving while it’s “that time of the month”

Today we want to address a subject that some people might not expect on a dive centre blog. We will talk about the safety of diving during the period and the benefits of menstrual cups. Sorry boys, we don’t mean to make you uncomfortable but unless you want to give some good advice to your female significant other you might prefer to check out one of our other posts. But we’ll start off lightly anyway.

Can I dive during my period?

Female divers and snorkellers ask the question “Is it safe to dive during my period?” quite often. Most of the time it means – let’s be honest – “Will I get eaten by a shark when diving during my period?”.

The answer is quite simple: Yes, it is safe to dive and no, your chances of getting eaten by a shark do not increase.

It is a common belief that sharks can smell blood in water from miles away and that it attracts them. In fact it’s the fish gastric juices that they can smell and not the (fish) blood. Also, the blood loss during the female menstruation is very small, a couple of millilitres per day only. So, from that side there is absolutely no concern.

Some researchers found out that there is a correlation between menstruation and decompression sickness. However, there is no proof for the reasons. It might have to do with the fluid loss and therefore dehydration. Another factor could be that migraines are more common and less iron may reduce the exercise capacity. To be on the safe side we should dive more conservatively during the menstruating days .

Then again, every woman feels differently during her period. Some might have no side effects at all while others experience severe cramps, feel bloated or just have a general feeling of being uncomfortable. Of course, as we all learn during the Open Water course: If you don’t feel like going diving, don’t do it. This is a general rule and doesn’t just apply for diving during your period.

Now to the part where the boys might really want to stop:

Blood control

Most female divers still use tampons while diving and this works perfectly fine. Underwater the menstruation will actually stop due to the increase in pressure. As the vaginal opening is closed there is no contact with salt water. However, we all know the anticipated horror of the annoying string sneaking through the bikini bottoms or leaving stains due to some leakage.

On our boats here in Zanzibar we don’t have toilets or a private area where it’s possible to check after the first and before the second dive that everything is in order.

Benefits of menstrual cups

A great alternative to using tampons are menstrual cups, and for many reasons:

  • Menstrual cups collect the fluids rather than absorbing them. You can just empty and clean them and then reuse them.
  • You can wear them significantly longer than tampons. Make sure that they are in place before you go on the boat and you’ll be fine for the whole boat trip.
  • Menstrual cups are safer for us. They don't contain any chemicals or other toxins. The risk of getting TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome) is minmised too.
  • Let’s not forget our environment and think about how much tampons and pads pollute it. With proper care you can use a menstrual cup for several years
  • They take less space in your luggage when travelling. Menstrual cups are also helpful for us scuba dive instructors that live in remote places with few shops around to stock up on tampons.
  • Think about how much money you save. Instead of spending money on tampons each month, you'll buy a menstrual cup once every several years. The money you save can be spent on more dives or new dive gear

It does take some time to adjust to the use of menstrual cups. They come in different sizes and slightly different shapes. If you can't get the hang of it, you might just have to try a different type. Once you are comfortable with them, you won't want to go back to using anything else.

Fellow scuba diving girls, share with us your experiences, feelings and – why not – some useful tips on the subject!