Another blog about the simple realities of life that can sometimes interfere with Bunnies' underwater activities - the monthly curse, monthly cycle or Period - can you dive when you’re menstruating?
Apologies to boy bunnies if you don’t like the subject but deal with it! Us girls have to, so if your mum, wife, lover, friend or daughter is your buddy then you should also read on.
We asked leading Dive Bunny Sarah if a Period needs to be a full stop to diving (or ‘period' so to speak - little nod to our US Bunnies!).
“No, it doesn't need to put a stop to your diving; diving whilst on your Period is fine as long as you’re comfortable. Keep diving if you want to!”
But what about sharks? They can smell blood from a billion miles away can’t they?
Sarah continued: “I’m glad you raised this since this is one of the more ridiculous questions we hear - sharks are actually more interested in the gastric juices that fish produce - it’s a far better indicator that a fish is injured and can more easily be preyed upon. Being on your Period will not attract sharks - if it did, then we’d all look to dive whilst on our Periods and enjoy the sharks!”
“It’s complete nonsense and there is nothing to support this.”
So that’s that myth put to bed but seriously, is diving with your Period safe?
Generally yes. If we’re being honest, there is not a lot of research out there that a Bunny can rely on and that is the main issue. Back to Sarah:
“It just isn’t a well researched area sadly. In fact, women in diving as a whole, is an area that has been largely ignored. However, DAN (Divers Alert Network - ED) has done a bit of digging around and although nothing is proven, they do say that if you are taking oral contraception and menstruating then there could be an increased risk.”
The not much science bit...
The DAN report looked at a study of 956 women that had suffered Decompression Illness. Of the sample, 38% were on their period, 62% were not. What did raise a couple of red (pun intended) flags was that almost all of those women who did suffer DCI whilst menstruating were taking oral contraceptive.
“85% of the women that had DCI during their period were taking oral contraception. Nothing proven, but the advice from DAN is this: dive more conservatively if you are on your period and taking oral contraception.”
By ‘diving more conservatively’ we assume shorter, shallower dives? We asked Instructor Phil and he said, “Ask DAN.”
Comfort when you're on
Comfort then - tampon or what? Wet suits are clearly not going to work with pads.
Sarah said, “I have had a lot of friends say that a diving holiday throws out their cycle once back home - even to the point that the first dive can stop a period mid-flow completely.
I think for most bunnies diving, it’s a comfort issue more than anything else - still use the right absorbency tampons for you and be mindful that you may find yourself needing to change it straight after the dive.
Also consider TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome) and follow the advice of health professionals - never wear a tampon for more than 8 hours.”
So all in all we say yes, keep diving and keep enjoying - be a little more cautious if you are on the contraceptive pill and if in doubt always contact DAN.
The Divers Alert Network (DAN) article is available here