Join 3,417 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Is there a scientific reason for a menstruating woman not to use a hot tub?
May 13, 2009 1:22 PM   Subscribe

Is there some scientific or medical reason why a menstruating woman would be banned from a public/shared hot tub or pool? (I'm talking actual findings, not just general cultural ickiness.)

I've come across this women's health spa in my area that claims it will not admit women to its facilities (soaking tubs and saunas, etc.) if they are having their period.

Does anyone know if there is science to back this up (transmission of diseases in hot tubs, etc.)?

Obviously, you don't want large amounts of blood contaminating a semi-sanitary environment but menstruation is not equivalent to hemorrhaging. Likewise, menstruation is not equivalent to having a contagious infection or skin condition. It seems like if a woman had showered and is using a tampon or menstrual cup it would be a non-issue. The ban mostly seems like a continuation of a taboo or cultural distaste for menses, "eww, women on their period are unclean" sort of thing. Am I missing some hard facts?
posted by dahliachewswell to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Could be a religious reason (specifically Christianity/Judaism)
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:26 PM on May 13, 2009


I've never come across this and would think it weird if I did. Tampons take care of this sort of thing.

I think someone's got a case of the heebie-jeebies. I'd recommend they not think too hard about the local swimming pool.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:30 PM on May 13, 2009


Zozo - the whole point is that with a tampon or menstrual cup you're not leaking anything from anywhere.

There's also the fact that the additional water pressure acts to stop the flow to a large extent, although of course not completely. Thus the tampon.
posted by Grimble at 1:31 PM on May 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've come across this women's health spa in my area that claims it will not admit women to its facilities (soaking tubs and saunas, etc.) if they are having their period.

Is this specifically because of a perceived health risk? Or is it because of cultural taboos.

Also, if this were my health spa, I'd just ignore the nonsense. Obviously I wouldn't be going into a soaking tub with a maxi-pad, and I doubt they're doing string/stem checks.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:36 PM on May 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Are you sure this is to protect other users' delicate sensibilities, or to protect the menstruating women? Personally, I am more prone to fainting and/or lightheadedness in general when I have my period (both of which would be exacerbated by a sauna/hot tub), and yoga instructors frequently tell menstruating women not to do inversions. It might be an insurance thing rather than a cultural ickiness thing.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 1:39 PM on May 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


What peanut_mcgillicuty said. I found a completely non-scientific website which claims that
Heating of the low back area of women during the menstrual period may temporarily increase their menstrual flow.
which would presumably be a health risk in some women.Another non-scientific website claims that
Caution needs to be exercised when menstruating and in a wet sauna since this can elevate the heart rate pretty fast. Women with menstruation may also have an elevated heart rate compared to those who do not.
In either case, I would consult with a physician before ignoring the prohibition given by the spa.
posted by muddgirl at 1:50 PM on May 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I always (possibly naively) thought it was for the reasons peanut_mcgillicuty suggests...I've only seen notices on hot tubs that combine warnings against using hot tubs for both pregnant and menstruating women, so I figured it was for more delicate menstruating women who might pass out (which I think is the same reasons yoga instructors advise against inversions).

Come to think of it, though, I do recall being fairly grossed out by finding a used pad on the edge of the campus pool when I was in college. Who swims with a pad?

Wear a clean tampon or diva cup & just ignore the rule, that's what I say. If it's for cultural or religious taboos, then what they don't know can't hurt them. People do far worse things in pools and hot tubs, hence the chlorine.
posted by tastybrains at 1:53 PM on May 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


yoga instructors frequently tell menstruating women not to do inversions

Yoga instructors tell menstruating women not to do inversions regardless of whether they experience orthostatic hypotension with their period. The reasons given are usually crazy shit about endometriosis or "vascular congestion," not the observation that many women experience orthostatic hypotension while menstruating.

Similarly, it makes sense for anyone to avoid saunas and soaking tubs while experiencing orthostatic hypotension or any other hypo- or hypertension, but saying "You can't come in here if you're on the rag!" isn't a good way of reinforcing that behavior.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:54 PM on May 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


If it's for cultural or religious taboos, then what they don't know can't hurt them

Um, no. Ignoring someone's cultural or religious request is never a good or respectful idea.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:00 PM on May 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Um, no. Ignoring someone's cultural or religious request is never a good or respectful idea.

True. But I would be unlikely to patronize a business that insisted I abide by a cultural/religious taboo without identifying it clearly as such. If it's bullshit science, I have no beef with ignoring it.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:04 PM on May 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


roomthreeseventeen - If they don't know the cultural/religious taboo is being violated, then it's not being violated.

What goes on in a be-tamponed vagina is no one's business but the owner of said vagina.
posted by tastybrains at 2:09 PM on May 13, 2009 [6 favorites]


Hepatitis?
posted by JJ86 at 2:20 PM on May 13, 2009


I've only seen notices on hot tubs that combine warnings against using hot tubs for both pregnant and menstruating women

I've seen warnings for pregnant women and those with heart conditions, but I've never seen menstruating women included in the list. Wow. (As a young'un that warning would've embarrassed the beejebus outta me.)

In response to your question, no, I've never seen any spas, gyms, saunas, etc. that exclude menstruating women.

Does the spa say that it's for health reasons, or does it just make a blanket statement and you're trying to figure out if there could be any reason other than the ickiness? I'd be curious to hear how they reply if asked.
posted by desuetude at 2:23 PM on May 13, 2009


I'm really curious as to how they would even know who is having their period and who is not. Is there an official vagina inspector stationed at the hot tub?

As for the original question, why not just call the health spa and ask what their reasoning is? If it's for misinformed "scientific reasons" then you'll have a starting place for debunking them, but if it's for religious/cultural reasons, there's not much that can be done other than deciding whether or not to give them your business.
posted by amyms at 2:27 PM on May 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Hepatitis?

"The virus is known to be present in the menstrual blood of infected women, and could theoretically infect their sexual partners during intercourse. The virus is, however, not present in most other body secretions, including semen, urine and saliva unless they contain blood particles, and is not present in the air infected people breathe out. It is not known for certain whether or not the virus can be passed from a nursing mother to her baby through breast milk. The risk of transmission of this virus by sexual means, either heterosexual or homosexual, is very low, and there is debate about whether or not it is ever transmitted by intercourse in the absence of some sores, other disease, or exposure to menstrual blood."

I'm going to say that Hep C is not going to be transmitted from a tampon-wearing or diva-cupped menstruating woman in a pool or sauna, no.
posted by rtha at 2:38 PM on May 13, 2009


my guess: warm/hot bath = vasodilation = increased flow + decreased blood pressure => increased likeliness of fainting in the water (of course, people who already have a low BP - not linked to one's period anyway), which spa managers will gladly avoid. Second guess: lack of sufficient sense in people not to step into the tub without changing their pad to a tampon/cup.

In any case, probably a consequence of past incidents.

On the other hand, cool water (say, a normal swimming pool) will stop the flow almost istantaneously (sez the vagina-owning ex-swimmer sitting beside me)
posted by _dario at 3:00 PM on May 13, 2009


Not to derail this (and if so, mods please delete) but I have a question about _dario's post. Why does the bleeding stop when the body is submerged in cool water? Is it just a pressure thing or is it some kinda vaginal voodoo? I remember being mystified by this concept in 6th grade and forgot about it until just now.
posted by 8dot3 at 5:09 PM on May 13, 2009


I've got to know the answer - please ask the club!
posted by agregoli at 2:10 PM on May 15, 2009


« Older Multiple-Monitor Filter: In V...   |  This question about eggs remin... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.