Girls, you can do anything you want. Want to be an astronaut? You got this. Want to be a DJ? Sure thing. Want to breed puppies so that you have a constant stream of puppies to cuddle? THAT SOUNDS LIKE THE BEST JOB IN THE WORLD.

Want to go for a swim when you’re on your period? Dive right on in.

Seriously?

Seriously. If you feel comfortable going for a dip when you’re on your period, there’s no reason why you can’t.

It’s actually an awesome idea, because exercise releases endorphins, which can help reduce the fatigue and cramps that sometimes come as an unwanted side order to your monthly visit from the uterus unicorn.

What if I TURN THE WHOLE POOL RED?

Ok, this is where tampons come in handy. Lots of people try them for the first time in order to go swimming, because they’re really the easiest way to prevent leaks. Just swap it for a new, dry one once you’re out of the water. Bombs away!  

TLDR? Here’s the important stuff:
  • You can abso-freakin-loutely go swimming when you’re on your period. You might actually find that it helps reduce aches, pains and argghs.
  • Your best bet is to use a tampon while swimming, to keep leaks at bay.
  • If tampons are a no-go, try a menstrual cup – but pads aren’t your pal at the pool. Sorry!

But if you’re strictly a pad person, things can be a bit tricker. Pads are designed to absorb fluids, so wearing one in the water means it’ll become soggy pretty quickly, and won’t be able to do its job properly – or stay stuck to your bikini bottoms either.

So it’s tampons or nothing?

Keep your cossie on for the moment, because there are some other options.

If you don’t fancy tampons you could try a menstrual cup, which is inserted in the vagina and captures the blood rather than absorbing it. You just empty it out in the loo every few hours, and pop it back up.  

Or if your period is light and you’re happy to go with the flow, you could try wearing a dark coloured swimming costume to hide any small leaks or stains. Don’t believe people who tell you your period stops in water – that’s a big ol’ myth – but it’s true that many people find they can have a quick dip with no disasters.

BUT WHAT ABOUT SHARKS?

Nope, total lie. They can’t smell your period, we promise. (And especially not in a leisure centre in the Midlands).

So in conclusion: just because you’re riding the crimson wave, doesn’t mean you can’t play in the actual waves too. Pool party, anyone?

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Amber Griffin

If you’ve ever paid a visit to the ‘Feminine Hygiene’ section of the supermarket, you’ll know that there are more types of sanitary product than there are Kardashian/Jenner/Hadid siblings put together.

There are mini tampons and regular tampons and super tampons. Applicator tampons and non-applicator tampons. Pads with wings, pads without wings. Maxi pads, night time pads and unicorn pads that make your period look like a rainbow and turn your hair really shiny (ok, these aren’t a thing – but a menstruating gal can dream).

The whole thing is a bit overwhelming, and let’s face it, there’s enough risk of shopping errors during your period as it is (how’d those eight bags of Minstrels get there?) without sanitary gear adding to the confusion. But never fear, we’re here to break it down for you.

So seriously, what’s the difference?

Pads (also known as sanitary towels or sanitary napkins) are made of absorbent material that you stick, via an adhesive strip, to the inside of your underwear. Some have extra material on the sides called ‘wings’ that you can fold over the edge of your knickers to make sure your pad doesn’t slip around while you’re busy slaying all day.

Tampons are also made of absorbent material, but compressed into a small cylindrical shape and inserted into your vagina like a fancy plug. There are a few different types of tampon: Some tampons have applicators, which help guide the tampon into place, whereas others you can insert with a clean finger. Tampons may take a bit of practice to get right, but when they’re inserted correctly you shouldn’t be able to feel them at all (like, AT ALL).

Many girls start out using pads because they’re a bit simpler to use and then progress to using tampons when they want to exercise or go swimming. Others swear by pads for every occasion, all their lives. And some start with tampons and never look back. All these options are totally safe, it’s just important to work out what’s right for you and your body.

TL;DR? Here’s the important stuff:
  • Pads (AKA sanitary towels or sanitary napkins) are made of absorbent material that you stick, via an adhesive strip, to the inside of your pants.
  • Tampons are also made of absorbent material, but compressed into a small cylindrical shape and inserted into your vagina. Some tampons have applicators, whereas others you can insert with a clean finger.
  • Try a few different options so you can find a product that you’re comfortable with and an absorbency that works for you. Dassit.

Riiiiiight, but which one should I use?

Figuring out your sanitary wardrobe can be overwhelming – but DO NOT PANIC. All this choice is actually a good thing, as it means you’re more likely to find a product or a combination of products that works for you.

The best way to decide is to shop around. Try a few different options so you can find a product that you’re comfortable with, with the absorbency powers you need right now.

You might want to use different products for different times of your cycle. A lot of people find their period is heavier during the first few days and then tapers off, so you might want to use a more absorbent ‘super’ tampon or pad for those days and then a regular tampon or pad for the rest of your period – or mix it up with tampons for heavy days and pads for lighter days. Think of it like pick ‘n’ mix, for your period.

(You could also buy some actual pick ‘n’ mix, while you’re at it.)

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Manjit Thapp

I was 12 and wearing cream Eeyore pyjamas when I got my first ever period.

I really loved them – comfy, cropped shorts with a frilly seam and a matching strappy top embroidered with my favourite moody A A Milne character. But even Disney wasn’t enough to keep adulthood away, and on a hot summer night during a family holiday in which I discovered my love of French petrol station hot dogs, it came.

Being 12 is so great, but it’s a time when everything changes, and that can be disorientating. That summer I’d just finished my first year at secondary school and it felt as if everyone expected me to behave both as a kid, and an adult. And that’s how I saw myself too.

On the adult days I practiced walking in heels on the driveway and couldn’t wait to start earning my own cash so I could buy my friends amazing birthday presents, instead of relying on my parents for a fiver every month.

On the kid days, I wanted to roll like a human sausage down every grassy hill I saw, and watch cartoons next to the biscuit tin after school.

Being 12 – and most of your teen years, let’s be honest – is an age when you’re on the cusp of adulthood, but then childhood sneaks in and pulls you back like an elastic band. You want to buy your favourite chocolate on the way home from school, but the law says you’re too young to earn money. You want to hang out all night with your friends but your parents have set a curfew.

You want to wear your favourite cream frilly pyjamas, but you get your first period.

Back to that morning in France. The story of my first period actually starts the day before, at a market near the villa my family and I were staying at. I was checking out the anklet options when a rush of nausea came over me really quickly, and I fainted. I was prone to fainting during my teens (something I eventually grew out of, though that doesn’t stop me carrying a packet of chocolate digestives everywhere I go ‘just in case’).

My Dad and stepmum – one by the arms, the other by the anklet-less ankles – picked me up like a table and carried me across the road while I wet myself, leaving a humiliating trickle of urine as we went. I was a human wee snail.

It sounds scary but, in reality, I came around about 30 seconds later. Other than the fact that my favourite denim miniskirt now smelt of wee, and my sister wouldn’t stop moaning about how the sarong stall was going to close any minute, I felt fine. My parents and I put the faint down to the hot weather and we all trotted back to the car.

The day continued as planned; we got back to the villa, jumped in the pool and my siblings and I proceeded to make up a water-based musical inspired by The Little Mermaid, complete with a crab dance that we still sometimes crack out at Christmas. The faint was forgotten.

Until the next day when I woke up and went to the loo as always. That’s when I pulled down my PJ bottoms and saw it; my period had soaked into the pyjamas and was all over my inner thighs, making them sticky (but not a spot on the white bed sheets – must have been beginner’s luck). There was a lot of it. Some was bright red, other patches were brown and dry. I was one of the first among my friends to get their period, and neither of my three sisters had started yet. I began to panic.

Without thinking, I whipped the PJs back on and wrapped a towel around my waist. Palms sweating, head spinning, I began racing – thighs glued together to keep the period in, using only my lower legs to move, like a cartoon – around the villa to find my stepmum. I’d seen her pack sanitary pads before we left but had no idea where she kept them… I mean, I’d never even owned pads before. Like a menzies detective, possibilities filled my mind. Did she keep them in her handbag? Knicker drawer? THE FRIDGE?!

After turning the cutlery drawer upside down and finding nothing, I turned to plan B: find an adult. I went to see my sunbathing sisters – chilled and enjoying their period-free lives – who told me that our parents had gone to the supermarket and didn’t know when they’d be back.

So I did the only logical thing I could think of. I grabbed a snack from the kitchen (Lays crisps, holiday staple), locked myself back in the bathroom and sat on the loo, waiting for my period to slowly drip into it. Like the olden days, when women simply had to sit on buckets until it stopped.

Now, I’ve never bungee-jumped off a 100ft bridge in the middle of a snowstorm wearing a short dress and no knickers, but I imagine the feeling when it’s over isn’t dissimilar to the relief I felt when I heard my parent’s keys in the door. I called for my stepmum and summoned her to my period throne.

She wasn’t scared. In fact, she was super calm. It was all going to be ok – she gave me a hug and a pad, and stroked my head while I cried about not being able to swim for the rest of the holiday.

Later that afternoon I’d held a welcome party for my period cravings by polishing off my third cheese and ham baguette, and was sat with my legs dangling in the nice cold pool. I felt like everything was going to be ok.

And it really was totally fine. Fine. When my brother pushed me into the pool, oblivious to the fact I was wearing the second sanitary towel of my life, the pool didn’t turn into tomato soup. The landlord didn’t try to kick us out the villa because I’d unsuccessfully flushed a sanitary towel down the loo (don’t try it, never try it). And I didn’t even leak through the white linen trousers I wore to get ice cream at lunch. I survived.

Now, when I’m expecting my period, I either sleep in black knickers so that I don’t stain another fabulous pajama set, or wear a pad to bed. What was the lesson my first ever period taught me? That there’s nothing that can’t be solved by switching your Eeyore pyjamas for the toy instead.

And always go to the sarong stall early.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Katie Edmunds

A new month means a new bettybox.  We asked bettygirl Lauren to have a look through October 2016’s bettybox and let us know her opinions. Spoiler alert: she’s a big fan of the salted caramel drinking fudge.

This month’s box contains:

Squirrel Sisters Cacao Orange snack bar 

AA Skincare Frankincense & Rose Cleansing Gel

NPW Beauty Junky Shea Butter Mud Mask

Sass & Belle Biscuit Box

Sass & Belle Biscuit Nail File

Maybelline Colour Show Nail Polish

Benecos Natural Kajal Eyeliner

Fudge Kitchen Salted Caramel Drinking Fudge

Ombar Centres Coconut & Vanilla (we used these in our banana pops tutorial!)

Want to get your hands on a bettybox? Watch this space, sign-up is coming soon!

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Fu Yuanhui became one of our Olympic sheroes last month when, after representing China in the Women’s Swimming 4 x 100m relay, she told an interviewer:

“I don’t think I performed very well today. I feel I let my teammates down.”

They came fourth. In the WORLD. She then explained:

“It’s because my period came yesterday, so I felt particularly tired – but this isn’t an excuse, I still didn’t swim well enough.”

Mike drop.

Fu’s candour was particularly brave, because while periods can still be a bit of taboo here in the UK, in China, they’re reeeally reeeally taboo. As in, prime-time commercials for sanitary products have been banned in China because they’re considered “vulgar” and “disgusting”.

The vast majority of women in China also still use pads, partly because of the persisting belief that women who use tampons are no longer virgins (we promise this isn’t true). Sex education in China is scarce and unregulated, which can lead to misunderstandings about the female reproductive system, a high rate of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, as well as many women avoiding tampons because they’re not sure how to insert them properly.

It’s estimated that tampons make up a minuscule 0.03% of the sanitary market, and while Chinese manufacturers produced 85 billion sanitary pads last year, not a single one of them made tampons.

Of course, pad popularity itself isn’t a bad thing; pads are comfy and easy to use and are excellent for mopping up your spilled Frappuccino – but they don’t work for every single situation. Such as, to pluck a random example out of the air, swimming.

Which we imagine would be kinda annoying if you’re an Olympic swimmer. Yeah.

Fu’s statement is so important in a worldwide context because it made people everywhere (yours truly included) pause and say: “oh yeahhhh, I never thought of athletes having periods!”

After all, we’re used to thinking of these people as super humans whose bodies can do things that ours couldn’t even begin to fathom – so it’s easy to assume the rules of nature that apply to us shouldn’t apply to them. But of course, as Fu reminded us, they do.

And just as significantly, a Chinese Olympian speaking openly about her period might finally spark a conversation within China about female reproduction, and trigger some really positive change for girls and women in the country.

All that, and an Olympic medal.

Fu, you’re our shero.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Getty