My first period came along during the summer holidays when I was twelve. I was mid-way through a 5 day surf life saving course that I was doing with a couple of friends from school, and when good old "Aunty Flow" came along, I was introduced to pads, and swimming - and the rest of the surf life saving course - was completely off the cards, because "you put that lump of cotton up WHERE?!?!"
And from there, for the next couple of summers, I just got used to the fact that I'd have to watch my younger brother and sister tearing up my neighbor's' pool on boiling hot days, or tell my friends that I'd skip the beach that weekend.
Fast forward a few years and I've now got my head around tampons, and also developed a bit of an environmental conscience. Over our lifetimes, a menstruating person will use around 9,000-12,000 disposable hygiene products such as tampons or pads. Pads that are made from the equivalent of four plastic bags and will last pretty much forever in landfill, or tampons that are covered in plastic packaging and sometimes contain plastic themselves. Making use of reusable period protection means none of this has to go to landfill or pollute our environment. Fourteen year old me would have been sold hearing that, but alas, she was stuck swimming with a tampon in and the string paranoia that came with it.
(noun) fear of tampon string escaping out the bottom of swimwear in a public place
And of course, periods aren't the only reason some of us need pads. What if despite any incontinence issues you could sit at the beach all day long in your swimmers and nothing else, without a worry?Well, welcome to 2017, where no tween has to skip the rest of her surf life saving course ever again, and mummas can jump straight into the water when her kids call her instead of getting changed in between, because period and leak proof swimwear now exists. Imagine if I had these ready to go back when I knew my first period was imminent? (On a side note, imagine if I had period underwear in general back then!) What I then felt was one of the weirdest, most intimidating parts of my life would have barely affected me.
How indeed. Modibodi the makers of the period-proof swimwear I'm talking about, have made a demo video showing how the fabric the swimwear is made from is completely water repellent. Meanwhile, they say that the inner liner absorbs everything and is designed to dry extremely fast. No leaks whatsoever are escaping while you're sitting on the sand in your white beach dress.
But I still had questions. No swimwear I've ever worn has ever been airtight. I always find there are air gaps around my legs. So how do we know that they won't fill up with water, or that the blood could all leak out? And if there aren't any gaps, how tight and uncomfortable will they be? What if the gusset gets completely filled up with water and starts sagging? And can we wear them in the surf? What happens if they come off? Or do they not come off?
I decided the only way to find out was by trying them. Unfortunately it's still a bit cold here in Sydney and I'm not keen on throwing myself into the ocean and frollicking around in the ice cold water waiting until I get dumped by a wave so that I can test the swimwear's stay-on capabilities.
I put myself in a slightly warmer, but less safe situation by going to the pool I usually do laps at. I often do breaststroke when I get tired, so I was really putting a lot of trust in Modibodi to know what they were doing. Leaking was not an option.
Here's how they went
Modibodi say their swimwear is designed for light days, spotting, and pelvic floor leaks, so I took mine for a road test on a light day. You could test out how they'd go on a heavier day in the bath (a brainwave I had conveniently after trying them out in a public pool).
Were they watertight? How did they keep all the blood in there and the water out?
The gusset part was nice and wide, unlike on other swimwear I've worn. All of the edges are elasticised so that they're snug. As soon as I put them on I felt secure, and confident that they weren't going to let me down.
Did they fill up with water and sag?
I did a whole lot of underwater acrobatics to test out whether they'd let water in, and they didn't. So that answered my question about sagging - they were barely even wet so there was no sag at all! I then sat down on my towel and everything dried at a normal rate, on a hot day I think they'd dry in a split second!
If they do come off in the surf, how much will people see?
The inner lining is black, so if you've got the two piece style, people won't see anything more than they would at any other time of the month! But Modibodi is also selling a one piece style, which avoids this issue altogether.
Were they comfy?
Definitely! I did notice that the gusset is a teeny bit thicker compared to regular swimwear, but this just made me feel really well protected. It's not visible either, so nobody would ever guess that you weren't wearing normal swimwear. Not to mention the huge weight they take off my conscience in helping me make sure my period is waste free and not hurting the ocean I love swimming in so much!
Overall, I'd definitely give these guys a go if you experience bladder problems and lady leaks in general - they'll keep you dry when you need to be. You can have that full day at the beach without having to change or worry about anything, including the impact your period is having on the planet.
[Images: Modibodi ]
We're in a climate emergency and it's going to take all of us to get out of it. That's why 1 Million Women is building a global community of women committed to fighting climate change with our daily actions. To join the (free) movement just click the button below!