While (according to statistics) there are still more recreational male than female scuba divers out there, in this blog post, we will speak to the ladies. So, gents, excuse us, but unless you are ready to read about some sovereignly female issues in scuba diving, then we recommend you to have a read of some of our other blog posts. This article’s main focus is on menstruation and scuba diving.
Even though menstruation cycle is one of the most natural things in a woman’s life, many women try to pretend it does not exist. Not only they hesitate, but often avoid completely any discussions to this matter. Many women just try to “survive” the couple of days of bleeding, minimizing or cancelling their sport activities altogether. Of course, while many might have medical reasons (severe belly pain, migraines, etc.), there are still many others, whose period is pain free, but they lack information, as to whether it is ok and safe.
Like with other sports, a lot of women hesitate about going scuba diving during menstruation. When they plan their diving holidays, they make sure to take this “issue” into consideration as well. Surprisingly enough, the main reason seems to be the fear of a potential shark attack. (Somebody has been watching too many scary shark movies, huh?) There is a commonly held belief, that the smell of blood can attract sharks from many miles away. This however is an urban legend. While it§s true, that sharks do have an extremely sharp sense of smell, they literally have a sea of other, tastier meal options.
It is actually the fish gastric juice what is attractive to sharks. The reason is simple. When a fish is releasing juice, it is an indication than the animal is handicapped and more easily preyed. For sharks, gastric juice is more interesting than fish blood (or human blood for that matter).
With this being said, shark attacks should be the least of your worries. A few studies suggest that scuba diving during period may increase the risk of decompression sickness. The exact reason why menstruating women are more susceptible to the condition is not well understood. Women undergo hormonal changes during menstruation, and there is a possibility that these changes affect the body’s ability to eliminate nitrogen from the system. The process of nitrogen release is less efficient than normal. Another possibility is that dehydration, caused by the release of bodily fluid, makes the body prone to decompression sickness.
To answer the primary question, whether scuba diving is safe during period, the general opinion, backed by the experience of hundreds of female scuba diving instructors, confirms that yes, it is safe. Moreover, many women would find that their period actually ceases as they submerge their bodies in the water, or that the not so pleasant symptoms (like belly or back ache) fade. And that is a good thing, right? J Naturally though, every woman is different and should know her body best. Your decision to take or postpone a dive should be based on knowledge of your own body and the ability to recognize discomfort.
Whether or not you are in your period, it is still important to focus on the dive itself and be prepared as the responsible scuba diver that you are, and never omit the pre-dive safety check. There is, however, one item that a female diver needs to think of – proper period products to use while scuba diving.
If we didn’t know any better, we would recommend you to use tampons and change them as soon as possible after each dive. However, tampons in general not only carry the risk of the toxic shock syndrome, they are also un-ecological, and using them only produces more waste that will one day end up in our oceans.
If the faith of our small planet, the only one we have, lies on your heart, and you don’t want to stop your sporting and scuba diving activities while menstruating, there might be a solution for you. The menstrual cup, also known as moon cup, lady cup, and so on. Whatever the name, this small soft cup can be your perfect helper. It is safe, easy to use (although we admit it does take a little bit of practice to get the grip), it lasts longer than a tampon. In addition to many other benefits that we aren’t going to list here and now, using the menstrual cup is very ecological, since you use it and reuse it for years, thus you’re not contributing to the already heavy pollution. Isn’t that great? Moreover, you can do your math here, how much money do you spent every month on all period supplies (tampons, day pad, night pads etc), as opposed to one time purchase of the cup? We recommend you to Google more information and you might never set eyes on tampons again, or skip a dive for that matter.
Happy (eco) diving, ladies!
You might be interested in reading: