Dear Lily, What is the best period product to use whilst surfing?

Photo credit: @jankfiles

Dear Lily, I’m going on a surf trip this weekend and I’ve just got my period. I haven’t tried surfing on my period before and have no idea what to do. I’m worried about getting leaks and just generally feeling uncomfortable in the water. What is the best period product to use whilst surfing?

Whether you’re surfing or not, period care is so personal and everyone is different. The most important thing is to make sure you’re feeling comfortable in the water, so have a few different options with you to see what works best for you and your body.

Personally, I find period bikini pants to be the most comfortable option, because it feels like wearing nothing! They’re just like regular bikini bottoms, but with a thin built-in lining that absorbs the blood. I wear a pair under my wetsuit like a regular bikini, then after the surf I rinse them and pop them in the wash. I’ve never had any leaks with them, and I feel totally free and comfortable wearing them. They’re also more eco-friendly, with no disposable/single-use plastic involved and they last a super long time if you wash them according to the instructions. I really rate the products by Modibodi — their light to moderate pair has an absorbency of 2 tampons.

Most women surfers I know swear by the moon cup, saying that it’s better than using tampons because it doesn’t let any water in and lasts much longer (about 12 hours). It’s a silicone cup that you wear like a tampon, but instead of changing it for a new one you just empty it in the sink or toilet, wash it and reuse it (so another eco-friendly option!).

Tampons are another favourite among surfers, since they’re discreet and can last 4-8 hours. But one downside to tampons is that they absorb water, so they’re not ideal for longer sessions. This also means bacteria can build up when the tampon soaks up seawater, so make sure you change your tampon as soon as you get out of the water. Tampons also aren’t as secure as the moon cup. Some women tuck the string inside to prevent it getting pulled out accidentally in the surf, but only try this if you feel comfortable with it.

If none of these options work for you, or if you’d prefer to feel more free in the water, then you can probably get away with not using anything! Most women find that their period stops while they’re in the water, because of the pressure from the water pushing against their body. And worst case, your wetsuit will hide any small leaks if it doesn’t stop completely. You’ll never actually see any blood in the water if this does happen, because it will just dilute straight away. You could always wear an old bikini that you don’t care about so much if you’re worried about getting the odd stain. I used to do this before I found the (life-changing!) bikini pants.

One product you should avoid using is a sanitary towel. Pads are super absorbent, so they will soak up water and get weighed down quickly, becoming pretty much useless in a matter of minutes as they fall off and float away!

Whatever you decide to use, remember to go easy on yourself when surfing on your period. Your energy levels will be at their lowest, and you might feel clumsier and more frustrated. Take the pressure off and keep your sessions short and stress-free (i.e. don’t paddle out when it’s bigger than you’re used to).

At the same time, surfing can actually make you feel better during your period as it helps to balance mood swings, and the physical activity can relieve cramps! So listen to your body and honour its needs during this time, but don’t sweat it if you don’t feel like getting in the water for a few days. 

I hope you manage to find some balance with your flow on your surf trip 🙂

Love, Lily x

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