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:
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!
Thank you for this article! As I am doing my dive master training on Zanzibar right now I was wondering if I could dive with my menstrual cup. I just love my cup! I never ever go without it anymore! And you are totally right: especially for traveling and for the environment it is amazing. So practical! I recommend every woman to try it. And don’t be sorry for the boys. Menstruation and blood control is a total normal thing that no one has to be ashamed or embarrassed of. And no one should make a woman feel negativ about it!
Nice Comments Elli!
Thanks for the post! Is it safe to use a menstrual cup while diving? Would the seal of the cup create an air space that you couldn’t equalize?
Dear Brittini, yes, it is safe to use a menstrual cup while diving. Many of our female instructors use it and we never had any issues with it while under pressure.
Thanks for your post and for answering to Brittini.
… your answers and explanations are enough to feel safe diving with a menstrual cup …
I’m doing my open water certification and I have my last two dives left. I’ve got my period and I’m supposed to head out for the dive in a couple of hours. I’m planning to use my cup, but how does one manage to pee while diving? Is it in the water? Even if I have to do that, will the cup pop out?
Can you purchase them in Znz?
Unfortunately I haven’t seen them for sale in Zanzibar yet.
Thanks so much for this! I’m diving tomorrow and was worried about an “air pocket” in my cup! I found the exact answer here and have peace of mind! Thanks!!
Is it safe up to 12 meters diving?
Our instructors even dive deeper with it, up to 30m.
Thanks fot the info. Very helpful und interesting article.
Thank you for this post! It was extremely helpful and now I don’t have to worry about diving with a cup!
Thank you for this article. I’m about to head on a live aboard and have been thinking whether the change in pressure from diving will make it uncomfortable or painful with a menstrual cup. So happy this blog confirms that nothing will happen!
Thank you so much for your post! I was wondering if there’s an underpressure that might change when descending. Now I can use my cup without worrying, thanks a lot!
Thanks for the post! It’s really helpful, I was wondering what to do in my next diving holidays and you gave me a very good answer. Maybe you could write in the article what you replied to britinni about pressure, air space and equalization. Thanks again!
Thanks for the info. I’m going to Kauai in a few weeks and will probably have my period during the trip. I started using a menstrual cup for the first time this month just so I can use it for Kauai! I’ll also be going scuba diving for the first time while there!!! Only shore diving, and up to 40 feet, but I’m SO excited.
Thanks, helpful article
Needed to know at the last minute!
I absolutely love my menstrual cup and would never go back to creating so much plastic waste every month!
I agree that they’re also great for music festivals and other times you need to go a little longer between changes, goodbye to TSS!
Thank you for writing this post. I’m about to travel to do my first open water course, and I’ll have my period toward the end of my trip. I was also concerned about an air pocket that couldn’t be equalized.
Melia we are thrilled the post was useful to you!
Hi Melia, did you tried diving with a cup? I am going to do my open water course as well and want to know if it would be painful underwater. Thanks!
Hello Sophie – it is not painful underwater. You can use it with confidence.
Lol, I loved this article. Thank you very much, it answered all my questions (and yes, I was a bit worried about the shark thing) but glad to know the menstrual cup is safe to use while diving.
Completely safe! I am happy the article could help you out! Have fun with diving
I now know that an air pocket won’t be an issue, which is very reassuring. But do you actually know why?
there are no specific studies on it yet. Therefore, I will simply reply to you from my diving knowledge and point of view.
Air underwater gets compressed, but where the cup is situated, there is usually no air anyway. So it doesn’t matter if the air gets compressed.
Further, there is no possibility of more air getting to where the cup is situated. The amount of air does not change and is compressed until you slowly ascend. This is the point when the air pocket expands again and the Volume increases, but only to its original size since there was no airflow towards your menstrual cup.
It is like bringing a closed plastic bottle filled with air to 30 meters and back up again. It simply returns to its original size.
I hope this answers your question! Regards from Zanzibar!
I could not believe that this was the first thing that popped up when I googled scuba diving and menstrual cups! Thank you for thinking to talk about this. We are on vacation next week in Mazatlan and this will be my first dive trip after getting my open water certification back in October. I was so excited until I realized I’d be on my period. And was worried about pressure on the cup. I’ve been trying to figure out the whole menstrual cup thing most of the year (haven’t found the right fit) but I’m a much happier person now that I finally made the switch.
Our pleasure. We are so happy we could help women divers all around the world! Enjoy the course – your holiday choices get so much more exciting as a diver.