Hot summer weather often means dreamy days at the beach—but the beach can turn into a nightmare when you have your period. Before you write off an enjoyable beach day this summer, though, here are some tips on how to stay comfortable oceanside during your period.
Your period typically means a base level of discomfort, and the beach elements of hot sun and grainy sand can only make that discomfort worse. But you shouldn’t have to avoid a summer pastime just because of biology. There are common-sense ways to make the most out of a period beach day: If you usually take pain medications when you have your period, make sure you pack them. Set up shop near a bathroom if that’s an option. And don’t go swimming if you’re wearing a pad. (Trust us, many teens have learned that lesson the hard way.)
A beach day on your period may mean more preparation than normal. But these hacks prove how a little planning can go a long way when it comes to having a good summer day by the ocean.
Dress for comfort.
If you are prone to ingrown hairs or razor burn, the last thing you want when you have your period is to be stuck in a bathing suit bottom that irritates your bikini line. Boy shorts, swim skirts, swimming shorts, and board shorts are all options if a bikini cut just doesn’t work for you.
An absorbent choice is Lunapads’ Sport Short — you don’t have to worry about pads or tampons. Lunapads even says you can take a quick dip on the ocean in the Sport Short, but you should change the Sport Insert afterward. PantyProp also sells leak-proof bathing suits if leakage, and not bikini-line irritation, is your biggest concern.
Opt for a dark bathing suit.
Speaking of leakage, you may have an adorable light-colored suit you love to wear, but you might be more comfortable in a dark-colored bathing suit on period days since it can hide any possible leakage.
You should always be wearing sunscreen, but there’s an added reason to lather up when you have your period. “Many women experience a lower pain threshold right before and during the early stages of their menstrual cycle,” dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe told HelloGiggles. “My patients feel more pain when their hormones are fluctuating.” So while you never want to be sunburnt, it might feel extra excruciating during your period.
Dr. Bowe also noted that some antibiotics and herbal supplements may make you more sensitive to the sun. Since many women take medications for pain during their periods, just be aware and see if you should be extra attentive when it comes to reapplying sunscreen.
Grab an umbrella.
While we want to emphasize again that you should definitely wear sunscreen, you can double up on the skin protection with a beach umbrella. Sure, it’s kind of a burden to carry it, but it’s a total game-changer that will extend your comfort exponentially. Floppy beach hats and cover-ups are also fashionable sun-protecting options, but an umbrella allows you to stay on the beach for much longer.
Pack proper snacks.
Whether it’s from the boardwalk stands or ice cream vendors, the beach is full of tempting — and unhealthy — snacks. You can avoid feeling worse if you steer clear of salty, fatty, fried, and sugary boardwalk fare.
Eat This, Not That! outlines some of the best foods to eat when you have your period. Salt-free popcorn and unsalted pumpkin seeds are two easy snacks to pack. Popcorn can boost your mood, but you’ll want to avoid the salted kind since that can lead to bloating. And on the subject of bloating, pumpkin seeds have magnesium, which can help lessen water retention.
Bring a blanket for laying out and stretching.
While you might be a person who prefers to sit on a chair at the beach, consider bringing a big blanket on period days. The fetal position is the best position to lie in when you have cramps, so you might want a blanket to achieve that position more comfortably. And the heat from the sand may also feel like the world’s biggest natural heating pad on your body.
You can also do stretches that help alleviate cramps, like these ones that Ruby Cup mentions, on your blanket. You might feel goofy, but just pretend you’re doing yoga on the beach.
Although the beach is a pretty ideal place to nap if your period has you feeling fatigued, you can also try working out to relieve cramps. “Swimming, walking, and non-impact activities are usually cramp and bloat relieving,” Dr. Nadya Swedan, a sports medicine physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, told HelloGiggles. “Beach volleyball is also a good choice, since it involves overhead reaching; this kind of stretching is usually helpful.” So start up a game of beach volleyball, go for a stroll, or get in the water if your cramps are ruining your laying out.
Try a menstrual cup.
Tampons certainly make life at the beach easier, especially if you’re fond of swimming. But menstrual cups are even more convenient for some women and have benefits that go well beyond the beach. Some beach-specific pros to DivaCup and Ruby Cup: Both offer a cup that you can leave in for up to 12 hours, so you won’t have to run to the bathroom. Plus, you can swim with a cup in and there’s no annoying string to worry about popping out of your bathing suit.
And don’t worry — even though sharks are drawn to blood, they aren’t actually more likely to attack you if you’re swimming with your period. So feel free to ride those ocean waves as you ride the crimson wave.
Drink plenty of liquids…and we’re talking water.
You might be inspired to channel your inner Jersey Shore cast member and drink alcohol at the beach. But you need to stay hydrated in the hot sum — especially when you have your period. Although it seems counterintuitive, drinking water actually helps relieve bloating. The tampon company Tampax recommends that you drink 10 glasses of water, juice, or milk a day when you have your period — and that’s not even when you’re sitting in the sun all day.
Penn Medicine also noted that you may be more prone to dehydration when you have your period due to the hormones estrogen and progesterone fluctuating. And activities like swimming may trick you into thinking you’re not sweating as much as you are. All this means that you’re going to want to pack a ton of water for your beach day.
Yes, heading to the beach when you have your period is, well, no day at the beach. But if you plan accordingly, you can still embrace those sweet summer vibes and ocean waves no matter what your ovaries are up to.