Does period swimwear work without tampons?

Period swimwear, also known as menstrual swimwear, refers to bathing suits designed specifically for women to wear while on their period. The key feature of period swimwear is that it contains an absorbent, leak-proof liner to help catch menstrual blood instead of needing to use a tampon or pad. So can period swimwear effectively contain menstrual flow without the need for an additional menstrual product like a tampon? Let’s take a closer look.

How does period swimwear work?

Period swimwear contains a built-in absorbent liner, usually made from quick-drying fabric with moisture-wicking properties. This liner sits in the crotch area of the swimsuit and acts like a pad to absorb menstrual blood. The liner is designed to be thick enough to hold a light-medium flow, though often is not intended to fully replace a tampon on the heaviest flow days.

Most period swimwear is designed so that the liner is hidden and blends seamlessly with the swimsuit material, making it discreet and undetectable. The liner is also designed to stay in place and not move around while swimming or doing water activities. Some suits contain antimicrobial properties to limit odor.

The material over the liner is swim-friendly and fast-drying like typical swimsuit material. It is often made of a blend of nylon and spandex to offer stretch and flexibility while still containing the absorbent layer securely.

Many period swimwear options are designed to look like a regular swimsuit, coming in styles like bikinis, tankinis, one-pieces, shorts, dresses, etc. The colors, prints, and cuts provide range of stylish options so that period swimwear cannot be easily distinguished from everyday swimwear.

Does it work well without a tampon?

For light flows, period swimwear generally works well on its own without need for a tampon. The liner is able to fully absorb and contain light menstrual blood flow while swimming and doing light water activities.

However, on heavier flow days, period swimwear alone may not offer enough absorbency. The liner reaches capacity faster and can leak, so on heavy days it is recommended to still use a tampon in combination with period swimwear for the most protection.

Everyone’s flow is different, so it takes some trial and error to find out if period swimwear alone can handle your individual heavy days. It also depends on the brand and style of period swimsuit, as some offer more absorbency than others in their liners. Most work well for light flow, but heavy flows will require a tampon for back-up absorbency and leakage prevention.

What are the benefits of using period swimwear without tampons?

There are several potential benefits to relying on period swimwear without tampons on your period:

  • Comfort – Some women find tampons uncomfortable, so swimwear with a built-in liner avoids this discomfort while still containing flow.
  • Convenience – Period swimwear means not having to deal with inserting or removing a tampon before and after getting in the water. The absorbency is built-in.
  • Discretion – The liner is hidden and blends in like regular swimwear, so period swimwear is more discreet than using a tampon string.
  • Confidence – The leak-proof design can give more confidence in the water without worrying about leaks or accidents.
  • Environmental – Reusable period swimwear cuts down on single-use products like disposable tampons entering waterways.

By potentially avoiding the need for tampons, period swimwear provides comfort, ease, discretion, and confidence for being active and swimming on your period. It can make period management simpler while supporting environmental aims by reducing disposable product waste.

What are the downsides of relying solely on period swimwear?

There are a few potential drawbacks to only using period swimwear without a tampon as your menstrual product:

  • Heavy flow challenges – As mentioned, swimwear alone may not be absorbent enough for very heavy flows. Leaks and accidents can happen if flow exceeds liner capacity.
  • Replacing – The swimwear liner will need to be replaced or washed after use, which could be inconvenient if out swimming at a beach or pool.
  • Visibility – Some period swimwear doesn’t fully hide the liner outline, so it may show through light-colored suits.
  • Limited styles – There are fewer period swimsuit options compared to the wide range of regular swimwear styles.
  • Price – Period swimwear costs notably more than standard swimsuits.

Relying solely on reusable period swimwear requires purchasing designated suits, vigilance about liner changes/washing, and still may not properly handle very heavy flows. The costs and style limitations should be weighed when considering using them as a tampon alternative.

Tips for making period swimwear work without tampons

Here are some tips to improve the effectiveness of period swimwear on its own without tampons:

  • Try them first during expected light flow days to see if absorbency suffices
  • Bring an extra liner or period swimsuit if swimming for an extended time in case the liner needs changing
  • Wear a pad or period-proof underwear as a backup in case of leaks
  • Opt for darker colored swimsuits that can conceal any liner outlines or leaks
  • Choose period swimwear with maximum absorbency if relying on them solo without tampons
  • Test out swimming and moving around to confirm fit and comfort
  • Change the liner promptly once you are done swimming and done with the suit for the day

Getting period swimwear with high absorbency capacity and changing liners frequently can go a long way in making them effectively contain menstrual flow on their own. But having backup products available is wise in case period swimwear alone doesn’t provide adequate protection.

Examples of some top-rated period swimwear brands

Here are some top period swimwear brands to consider if looking for suits to potentially use without tampons:

Brand Key Features
Ruby Love – Antimicrobial liner
Knix – Variety of styles and prints
ModiBodi – Full coverage liner
The Black Line – Chlorine resistant
Thinx – Leak resistant liner

All of these brands offer absorbent period swimwear in an array of stylish designs. Seeking out options with maximum absorbency and coverage will be key for success using without tampons.

Are there reusable options?

Yes, there are reusable period swimwear options where the liner can be rinsed out and worn multiple times. Most contain antimicrobial treatments to help control bacteria and odors between wears.

Popular reusable period swimsuit brands include:

  • Ruby Love
  • Knix
  • Thinx
  • Dear Kate

The reusable swimsuits contain a durable, multi-layer liner designed to be rinsed, washed, and worn many times. This provides environmental savings over disposable tampons. However, convenience may be reduced since the swimwear requires more hands-on care between wears rather than just changing a disposable liner.

Tips for washing and caring for reusable period swimwear

Follow these best practices for washing and maintaining reusable period swimwear:

  • Rinse the liner thoroughly after wearing before machine washing
  • Use a mild detergent without fabric softener or bleach
  • Wash in a mesh garment bag on a cold, gentle cycle
  • Line dry or tumble dry on low heat; avoid high heat drying
  • Don’t wring or twist suit to rough up absorbent liner layers
  • Check for stains after each wash; treat promptly
  • Disinfect with diluted vinegar or tea tree oil if odors develop

Proper cleaning and drying is key to maximizing the lifespan and performance of reusable period swimwear. Take care to rinse, wash delicately, and avoid heat damage to the liner materials.

Do period swimsuits work for swimming laps or high intensity water activities?

Most period swimwear can handle general swimming, splashing around, and light water activities. However, their effectiveness for more vigorous swimming like laps or water sports is mixed.

For lap swimming and high exertion water activities, key factors include:

  • Snug fit – Loose suits are more prone to shifting and leaks
  • Full coverage – More coverage means better containment
  • Absorbency – Higher capacity liners handle more flow
  • Activity level – Light periods may work better than heavy flow days

Look for period swimwear advertised as “high performance” with features like elasticized edging, reinforced gussets, and lightweight fast-drying materials. Leotard or athletic styles with more coverage plus high absorbency liners will work best for active watersports. But on heavy flow days, a tampon still may be advisable for lap swimming and intense activities.

How can you swim on your period if period swimwear doesn’t work for you?

If using period swimwear alone doesn’t work out, there are other options to stay active in the water while on your period:

  • Use a tampon plus period swimwear for extra backup
  • Try a menstrual cup instead of period swimwear
  • Wear dark shorts over top of a pad or liner
  • Use waterproof tape or bandages over your pad/tampon
  • Plan water activities for lighter flow days if possible
  • Opt for non-water activities like yoga, walking, etc. on heavy days

Having multiple strategies available ensures you can modify your approach based on your flow level that day. Leaning on tampons, menstrual cups, dark cover-ups, or scheduling around your cycle can allow staying active in the water even if period swimwear falls short.


Period swimwear can certainly work well on its own without tampons for light flows. The built-in liner offers convenience, discretion, and no chafing or discomfort. However, relying solely on period swimwear becomes more challenging on heavier flow days when leakage is more likely. Using them in combination with a tampon may be required for adequate absorbency and protection when flow is heavy. Getting a swimsuit with maximum absorbency and coverage helps improve the odds of success. Reusable period swimwear with a sturdy liner offers environmental benefits but requires diligent washing. While not a perfect solution for every scenario, period swimwear provides a useful alternative to support swimming and water activities during menstruation.

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