The menstrual cup is a very good alternative to tampons or pads because it does not absorb water, especially when swimming and therefore does not need to be changed immediately after bathing. Since it adheres well to the vaginal wall immediately after insertion, water cannot penetrate from the outside. Conversely, blood also does not flow from the inside to the outside.
The most important facts in summary
- The menstrual cup is a good alternative to pads and tampons when swimming because it cannot become waterlogged and therefore does not need to be replaced immediately after swimming.
- To ensure proper protection while swimming, the menstrual cup must fit properly and be the right size.
- However, the design and material properties of the menstrual cup also offer many advantages for other water sports activities.
When women have their period, they are usually very reluctant to go swimming, because no one likes to leave a reddish trail behind them in the water. Bad experiences with tampons and pads certainly play a role in this thought, because they like to soak up water like a thick sponge. When leaving the pool, many a bikini panty inflates in a conspicuous way. Such phenomena are not to be expected with a menstrual cup.
Since the menstrual cup attaches itself to the vaginal wall immediately after insertion, no water can penetrate from the outside. And conversely, blood can no longer leak from the inside to the outside. Waterproof, medical silicone or material very similar to it is used for production. The ingenious design is such that slipping in or out is not possible.
Why is the menstrual cup so waterproof?
In order to be able to insert the menstrual cup at all, it must first be folded with the fingers in a special way. By inserting it, it then takes its place directly in front of the cervix. In doing so, it automatically unfolds into its correct shape, which is accompanied by an increase in volume.
Air flows into this new volume, creating a very slight negative pressure in the abdomen. This small pressure difference from the outside air seals the material so extremely carefully against the vaginal wall. Therefore, no liquids can pass through from the outside to the inside or vice versa from the inside to the outside.
However, this also means that you must first ensure that the pressure is equalized before you can even remove it. To do this, you need to press the cup a little on its sides. In this way, a bit of air can flow in so that the same air pressure conditions prevail inside and outside.
The correct insertion – depending on the size
For bathing and swimming to work, the menstrual cup must fit properly. This is only guaranteed if the small vacuum has actually been able to form, and this, in turn, requires that you have bought the right size and do not make any serious mistakes when inserting it.
Your age, more or less regular sexual intercourse, or the fact that you already have a child play a role insofar as there are actually different fits.
Size S is usually well suited for girls who are still virgins or young women who are still childless. Size L usually fits well for all other women. But these are only very rough guidelines for now.
Testing is above studying
Before you take your first bath, you should first get used to the menstrual cup. Try it out for a few days, if necessary in the bathtub, see if you can insert and remove it, if it fits well or if it bothers you.
When you have finally been in the water with it, you should immediately check whether some water has perhaps penetrated. This will tell you if the fit was really perfect.
It is certainly a good idea to get out of the pool at the first sign that some blood has come through. You can probably feel this from slight pain or cramps because in such situations the uterus likes to contract rhythmically. With time, however, you will become more and more confident in handling it, so that the critical examination will soon come to an end.
Advantages and disadvantages of swimming with a menstrual cup
- You don’t notice anything from the cup when swimming.
- It is more practical than a tampon or sanitary napkin.
- No ribbon peeking out.
- Nothing can get soaked up with water.
- High capacity of liquid, therefore longer bathing fun.
- A short acclimatization period is required.
- It should be checked more often at the beginning.
Hygiene: cleaner than pads or tampons
Tampons have a strong tendency to soak up water while bathing, which can cause bacteria to enter the vagina from the outside. This is also a reason to change your tampon right after swimming. The menstrual cup is much better at keeping germs out and is therefore beneficial to vaginal health overall.
Discreet and practical
Even after several hours of increased activity in the water, it will not leak. In this respect, it is a very practical solution and, moreover, the cleanest option during the period. Absolutely nothing can be seen from the outside. So there is really everything in favor of this form of monthly hygiene.
What is medical-grade silicone?
This silicone was developed specifically for medical technology. It is characterized by particularly high flexibility, is heat-resistant and biocompatible. It is therefore often referred to as an organosilicon compound. Today, it is widely used, among other things, in cosmetic surgery, for insoles, or in the manufacture of prostheses. Certain additives and processing techniques are used to give the medical silicone the desired properties. This concerns density, strength and stiffness, durability, surface texture, flexibility, and so on.
So it is not surprising that this material is also used for the production of menstrual cups. It is clinically very pure, the physicist would perhaps rather speak of an inert material because nothing adheres to the quite smooth surface. Consequently, no germs can penetrate into or through the material. For this reason, the models are suitable for swimming. In contrast to tampons or pads, no impurities can penetrate from the outside through water.
Guaranteed flexibility without harmful softeners
Whether your model is clear or colored, it is made of very well-tolerated medical silicone that does not contain any plasticizers, heavy metals, bisphenol A, benzophenone, and whatever else the imaginative chemical industry has to offer. The European company Lunette produces, according to its own information, the only menstrual cups that are classified as medically safe by the medical authorities FDA (USA) and TGA (Australia).
Does the menstrual cup need to be cleaned differently after swimming?
No, that is not the case. Only the frequency of cleaning may be increased, also from the point of view of checking whether everything is still in order. Anyone who goes on a beach vacation knows the crux of the matter with all the sand and the salt content. It can easily happen that some sand gets into the vagina. If grains of sand get between the vaginal wall and the tight-fitting cup, this naturally leads to imperfections in the seal.
It is therefore highly recommended that you always have tissues and some water with you on the beach to be able to clean it at least provisionally at any time. There is not always an adequate toilet on the beach that you can trust. But be sure to avoid getting paper lint stuck to the material.
By the way, there are special disinfectant wipes for cleaning. In any case, the inside is very smooth, which makes it easy to clean with water. Typically, the cup is emptied two to four times a day, depending on the strength of the bleeding. This makes them so convenient on a long day at the beach.
Also common is to boil it for five minutes after the end of the period before storing it. The material is designed for this and of course, can be boiled at any time in between for optimal cleaning.
Please do not put them in the dishwasher!
Under no circumstances should the menstrual cup be put in the dishwasher. This is not a problem for the model itself, but for your vagina. The soap or dishwashing detergent used here can cause considerable and unpleasant irritation of the mucous membranes in your vagina.
What to do if the menstrual cup leaks?
Each model must always unfold properly after insertion in order to fit well. To check if it has opened completely, try turning it a little. This should be accomplished with virtually no resistance. In some women, the cervix may move down a bit during menstruation. In these cases, do not insert the cup too far or it will quickly take its place next to the cervix rather than under it.
Do not insert too deeply
Do not insert the menstrual cup too far. It should definitely not sit as far up as a tampon.
In fact, it is the incomplete opening that causes it to fill with water in most cases. When the material opens as intended, it creates a slight vacuum, causing it to fit tightly against the vaginal wall. Maybe you chose the wrong size after all. Each vagina is very individual in its shape. The rough size recommendations for young or older women can be very off in individual cases.
Can I also use other water sports?
While pads and tampons are “on everyone’s lips,” menstrual cups are unfortunately still relatively unknown, despite their many advantages. Therefore, the following still applies: trying is better than studying.
Medical silicone is impermeable to water, this also applies to water vapor, and yet breathable for skin and mucous membranes. In addition, which is also very important, the material is hypoallergenic and therefore well tolerated by virtually everyone.
How well the cup really keeps its fit while running, yoga, horseback riding, dancing, swimming, diving, or even in the sauna, there is no scientific evidence about it now. But you can make a small contribution by voluntarily sharing your experience with a manufacturer, for example, so that the databases can be filled with such information.
Personal caution is always advisable
However, concerns are always justified when it comes to sports with violent accelerations. We are thinking, for example, of high diving, jet-skiing, but also diving. The stable seat based on a small vacuum has its limits, which are not yet known.
It is plausible that the sometimes extremely violent jolts of jet skiing, which can be dangerous for the intervertebral discs, could cause the cup to slip. It all depends on your driving style and the swell.
When tower diving, the water can be pressed against and into the sheath with very high pressure, depending on the height and angle of immersion. And when diving, the water pressure increases by one atmosphere every ten meters. So you are basically well-advised not to break your depth record during your period.
Thermoplastic elastomers (TPE) are also used as materials instead of medical silicone. The latter is somewhat firmer than silicone, which promotes undisturbed development and a tighter fit of the menstrual cup. However, those who are very sensitive are better off with softer material.