Menstruation is a natural and healthy biological process, yet it continues to be taboo and cloaked in stigma.
The suppression of period talk allows misconceptions and myths around periods to perpetuate, fostering beliefs that can affect the mental and physical health of menstruating people.
Some of these misconceptions might sound silly, but they perpetuate socio-cultural beliefs with broader implications that result in real-life consequences ,like human rights issues, for women, girls, and people who menstruate all over the world. These consequences can lead menstruating people to feel confined to their homes, excluded from public spaces like school, and being treated or made to feel as though they're dirty, dangerous, or bad luck. In certain parts of the world, menstruation can disrupt or even end a girls education.
We're Period Positive here at Seea and want anyone who menstruates to feel comfortable and confident in their bodies no matter the time of the month.
Having your period shouldn't stop you from enjoying activities you love, including swimming and surfing. We want to normalize talking about our periods and want to do our part to work toward removing the shame and stigma one conversation at a time.
Read on as we debunk some common myths about swimming and surfing on your period, as well as some tips for making surfing on your period comfortable for you!
Myth: I will get attacked (or others attacked) if I swim or surf on my period
Fact: No, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that period blood attracts sharks
Let's start with the most pervasive swimming/surfing myth of them all -period blood attracts sharks. If you're a surfer, you might have actually heard someone - usually a dude - say this in real life.
Or, maybe you've heard it from a public figure.
In a 2017 interview with TMZ on the topic of shark sightings in Malibu California, Laird Hamilton stated “the biggest, most common reason to be bitten is a woman with her period, which people don’t even think about that. Obviously, if a woman has her period, then there’s a certain amount of blood in the water.”
It's easy to laugh, but attitudes like this are why these myths continue to exist - especially when Living Legends of the Surf World continue to perpetuate them.
"This is one of those misconceptions that refuses to die,” Chris Lowe, a shark researcher at Cal State University of Long Beach, told The Huffington Post in response to Hamilton’s comments. “In fact, the amount of blood loss during menstruation is probably less than average scrape or cut that a kid or surfer may get while playing in the water.”
It's also worth noting that sharks aren’t just attracted to blood, but also the amino acids found in blood. Those acids diffuse when they hit the water. Furthermore, menstrual blood isn’t just blood—it’s also made of mucus, secretions from uterus, and other components. There is no evidence that sharks are drawn to any of them.
Myth: It's unsafe to surf on my period
Fact: It's perfectly safe to swim and surf on your period.
Listen to your body - if you're tired or achy don't force yourself, but there isn't anything inherently dangerous about swimming and surfing while menstruating. In fact, exercise might help relieve menstrual cramps or give you a boost of energy to combat fatigue and improve your mood if you're feeling down.
Furthermore, you will not endanger anyone by swimming on your period, even in a pool.
Myth: I can't use feminine products when I swim or surf.
Fact: You can use feminine products like tampons or menstrual cups. But, you can also choose not to use anything.
Do whatever is within your own level of comfort and what is right for your body whether it's wearing a tampon, a menstrual cup, or nothing at all.
Since tampons are absorbent, they can absorb some of the water while you're swimming. Choose a size and protection level with this in mind and be sure to change your tampon as soon as your session is over.
Menstrual cups, like Diva Cup and Saalt, are silicone cups that collect menstrual blood instead of absorbing it. Some prefer this option because they offer leak-free protection for hours and can be reused time and time again, so they're seen as a more economical and Earth-conscious option.
If you prefer pads, which shouldn't be worn in the water, or if you simply don't want to wear other water-friendly feminine products while swimming or surfing, you can always opt to wear nothing at all. Water pressure may be enough to prevent flow while you're surfing, but keep in mind that movement may cause some leaking. The good news is that it's highly unlikely that you'll leave any visible trail of blood in the water. You might just want to opt for an older swimsuit that you don't mind staining because as soon as you leave the water your flow will return.
Our packing list for a surf day on our period
- Tampons or a menstrual cup!
- Avasol Sunscreen - whether you're menstruating or not, sun protection is always important.
If using a menstrual cup, pack a bottle of water to rinse and clean the cup post surf just in case there aren't any nearby facilities
If using tampons, pack something you can use to dispose of them.
We like these nifty sealable hygienic bags (made from plants!) by Fab Little Bags. If there are no facilities or bins, be responsible and carry in and carry out!
- A darker colored Seea suit like the Harper or Brasilia Bikini in black
- If you're looking for coverage that is fuller, opt for one of our suts retro cut shorts like our Dara Surfsuit or separates like the Lulu Short and the Lennon Short
- Shop a collection of some of our Period Friendly picks!
- A second swimsuit to use as a backup in case of leakage, or to change into post-surf as dry bottoms are better for vaginal health
- Oliva Robe
- nothing quite compares to the cozy post-surf comfort that comes from wrapping yourself up in our Olivia Robe -- especially during your period!
A hydrating drink like some coconut water, or water with added electrolytes to ensure you're hydrated - menstruation can be dehydrating !
Healthy snacks to keep you going