Periods were taboo for a very long time, so it’s no wonder that there are a lot of period myths out there.
These myths take on a life of their own and can confuse many women, of every age. So let’s debunk one myth for once and for all:
It’s totally okay to take a bath while you have your menstrual period.
Why it’s Good to Take a Bath on Your Period
In fact: Many women love taking a bath during their period. Bathing in general has many positive effects on our mood, stress levels and more. And because periods can be stressful for many of us, a long, relaxing soak can be the perfect antidote to a period.
But more specifically, a bath can help with:
- Relief from Menstrual Cramps: Many of us experience back pain and cramps when we’re menstruating. A hot bath can bring a lot of relief, just as a hot-water bottle or heating pad would. Add some Epsom salts and you also have an anti-inflammatory, which can help sore joints and muscles
- Cleanliness and Hygiene: It’s important to stay clean during your period and regularly bathing or showering is the best way. Now, of course, sitting in dirty bathwater for prolonged periods can also have the opposite effect. So, make sure you always rinse off after a bath, especially around your pubic area.
Menstrual blood is alkaline, which explains the metallic smell women often experience during menstruation. If odor bothers you, bathing or showering more often should help.
- Relaxation: If you’re already a bath person, you’ll know a bath’s relaxing effects. Aromatherapy oils can enhance this. We recommend lavender or ylang ylang. If your period is a stressful time for you, or you suffer from PMS, don’t underestimate the simple pleasure of a nice soak.
Advice for Taking a Bath on Your Period
While taking a bath is perfectly safe, we do have some words of advice. Sitting in bathwater can be relaxing and have other benefits, but it’s not the most hygienic way of cleaning your body. So maintain your common sense.
If You Wear a Pad, Pre-Clean Before Bathing
This may seem counter intuitive: After all a bath is a place where you get clean! But if you wear a pad or leakproof underwear, you might want to pre-clean your pubic area before hopping in the tub. This is because dried blood can carry bacteria, which you don’t want to enter your vagina (remember the cervix is more relaxed during your period too).
No, You Don’t Actually Stop Bleeding
Does your period stop in the water? Some believe that a bath will stop your bleeding. While the pressure of the water might decrease your flow, the opposite can also happen: Warm water can also increase menstrual flow.
In fact, there’s a good chance you’ll see some menstrual blood in your shower or bathwater, especially if you have a heavier flow.
Hate the Sight of Blood? Wear a Tampon…
If you can’t stand the sight of blood or find the idea of blood in your bathwater gross, you don’t have to rule out bathing altogether.
Can you shower with a tampon in? You can bathe or shower with a tampon, just as you would swimming. Because warm water can increase flow, opt for a higher absorbency tampon. It’s advisable to put in a clean tampon before your bath and remove it immediately after - remember it can also absorb water.
Ultimately, there’s no rule that you have to wear a tampon in the bath. It’s absolutely your choice and comfort level.
Don’t Overclean Your Pubic Area
Some women clean their pubic area aggressively when they have their period. But remember the vagina is really self-cleaning and you don’t want to upset the delicate pH levels of your vagina. Of course, pay attention to the area, but don’t overdo it with soap or scrubbing.
Current medical advice advises against cleaning the inside of your vagina — it is self-cleaning! This article by Rose Brown for the Guardian explains it best:
“The vagina is an amazing organ. It is lined with a mucous membrane that protects against infection (necessary in any part of the body that opens to the outside world), as well as a clever, complex mix of bacteria – also known as vaginal flora – that does the same thing (only the bowel has more bacteria than the vagina). Together, they keep the vagina healthy. It is self-cleaning, too, keeping itself safe and hygienic with secretions. (One day, I will get used to gynaecologists referring to my vagina as “a self-cleaning oven”.)”
Instead, just clean the vulva area (the external part of the female genitalia). Plain, warm water really does the trick to keep the vulva clean and always remember to clean from front to back to avoid infections. If you suspect you have an infection, always see medical advice.
If You’re Anemic, Consider a Shower Instead
If you experience low iron levels when you have your period (or in general), consider skipping the bath as a medical precaution. The warm water may increase flow and you might experience dizziness… not exactly relaxing.
A nice shower and a hot-water bottle or heating pad are alternatives to provide the same benefits. Wondering how to shower on your period? Tip: The exact same way you do every other day!
After Your Bath
Once you’ve enjoyed your soak, it’s recommended you quickly shower off to rinse away any dirty water, soap debris etc.
Time to dry off after your shower. Again, there’s no need for aggressive rubbing. Gently pat the vulva area dry with a clean towel. If you experience heavy flow, you might want to dry that area first so you can insert a tampon right away.
You might consider using a separate hand towel on your pubic area. That way, if there’s a stain you don’t have to toss a big bath towel in the laundry.
Clean Pad/Tampon and Underwear
Once you’ve dried off from your bath or shower, insert a clean tampon or apply a clean pad on fresh underwear. Hopefully, you feel relaxed and refreshed.
If your flow is heavy, consider backing up your regular period protection (tampon, cup or pad) with some leakproof underwear.
It’s up to you what you do next, but your favorite PJs and some Netflix and chill is our suggestion!