Q: Can I go swimming if I'm on my period?
A: There's a lot of myths out there, but if you want to go swimming, it's more than okay to do so! Plus it can really help with cramps and feeling bloated! You can go swimming if you're in the midst of your menstrual cycle, however, there are a few things to remember before diving right in.
- Always wear a tampon - they expand naturally to fit your body so there's no need to worry about any leakage. Remember to change them regularly.
- If you don't normally wear tampons, you could try a menstrual cup, and like a tampon, moulds to the shape of your body. Plus they last a little longer than the recommended maximum wear of tampons.
- Try out these methods before going on holiday, using tampons for the first time can be a little uncomfortable so the last thing you want is the added pressure of doing it right before a swim.
Unfortunately there's no real way to go swimming whilst on your period if you only wear pads. If you don't want to try other methods, it might be best to think about delaying your period.
Q: What can I do to delay my period on holiday?
A: The NHS advises that if you take a combined contraceptive pill, you can delay your period by taking two packets back to back. This means that for one month you will skip your period, but it depends on how many pills you usually take. You should check NHS Choices for more information on delaying your period when on the pill.
If you're not on the pill, then it's best to speak to your GP well in advance of you going on holiday so that they can discuss the different options with you.
Q: I'm feeling a bit low and can't be bothered to get involved with what's going on.
A: First and foremost, the way you are feeling is completely normal! Being on your period messes with your hormones, so you might be feeling slightly more moody and agitated than normal. Combat these feelings by spending the first few days of your period relaxing. Sunbathe, read a good book or even go for a swim (see above). Most importantly, if you don't feel like doing something, don't feel pressured to get involved if you're not feeling up to it!
Q: I have a really sore stomach, what can I do to make it better?
A: Cramps, feeling bloated and general soreness is pretty common when you're on on your period, but there are a couple of things you can do to make the pain pass, such as;
- a hot water bottle,
- light exercise, or
- if the pain is really bad, you can take the recommended dose of Paracetamol or Feminax - which is a medicine designed to treat period cramps.
If you are suffering from a heavy period and a lot of pain regularly, you should see your doctor about whether you may have something else going on. Check out our tips on approaching a GP when you might feel embarrassed.
Q: I didn't bring any pads or tampons with me, where can I get them?
A: If you know the general timing of your cycle, you should prepare by bringing the necessary sanitary products with you on holiday, but if you're quite new to the whole period thing, getting one for the first time or have irregular periods and aren't really up-to-date with your cycle, there are plenty of places to get what you need.
If you're staying in a hotel, usually if you phone reception you can ask for some extra toiletries, including tampons or pads.
Asking your parent, guardian, carer or sibling if they have some products to help you out is also another option. It might feel a bit embarrassing, but remember, periods are perfectly natural and a whole lot of people go through them!
Wherever you're travelling on holiday, most local shops and supermarkets stock plenty of sanitary products, so you could also make sure to check where the nearest amenities are on the first day of the holiday or send someone to the shop for you. In Europe you can also pick up sanitary products at pharmacies, which are usually marked outside with large green plus signs outside of them.
Find out more about dealing with your period and what the deal is with pads and tampons over on our Periods campaign page.