Over the next few weeks we will be answering questions that affect women in Jiu Jitsu. This week we will be discussing the ins and outs of training BJJ on your period! If you have any questions you would like answered or think are under-served, please leave a comment!
The short answer is YES! You can absolutely train with your period if you want to! I do and have ever since I started BJJ. I wear a menstrual cup that I love, because it never leaks, it doesn’t feel wet, and I forget that it is there. Plus it is eco-friendly! There is no waste afterward, just wash and reuse!
Unlike many women, my period doesn’t cause me much pain or discomfort. I don’t dread it coming and it doesn’t really affect my life or my training. Actually, on the occasion that I do have light cramps training helps make them go away, or at least take my mind off of them.
The reason I decided to write this article is because it came to my attention that for some women their period is a big hindrance to their training. I was surprised! I thought that everyone trained on their period. It was only when a friend told me that she hated having to take off a week every month, that I realized that some women can’t, feel like they can’t, or don’t. I inquired into why some women opt-out of training when aunt flo comes into town.
This is what I found:
There are three main concerns that women seem to have with regards to training on their periods. Comfort, odor, and leakage.
Comfort is really about listening to your body and knowing what you need during that time of the month. There is no “right” answer regarding training on your period, just what is right for you. While exercise can actually decrease cramping pains, if you have painful or tiresome periods it’s okay to take a couple of days off. That doesn’t mean you necessarily have to take a week off the mat. I know some women who take the first two or three days of their period off when their flow is the heaviest and their cramps are strongest. Think about it this way, if you want to improve in jiu jitsu you need to be able to create longevity in the sport. To create longevity, in jiu jitsu you need to take care of yourself. We all know that means lifting/cross-training, rehabbing your muscles, eating well, and sleeping well; but it’s also listening to your body, knowing when you need rest, and knowing when you are cheating yourself and actually just need to train. There is no shame in giving your body what it needs, anytime but during your period especially. For some of us that means we want to be on the mat, and for some of us that means resting and recharging for the next time we train. Really, it’s just about knowing yourself.
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A lot of women are concerned about period odors while training. This makes sense, in jiu jitsu we get up, close and PERSONAL with our teammates. However, I have seen some sites recommending that women use feminine washes to control period odors while training and I have to say, I think there is a better way. Just a word about these feminine washes, the vagina is equipped with good bacteria that help it clean itself and these washes strip away those good bacteria, disrupting your ph, and leaving you more vulnerable to yeast infections. If you are concerned about smell, I suggest putting on a pair of clean cotton underwear, washing your vulva with water right before training, and using an internal method to collect your period blood (like tampons or a menstrual cup). Period odors are strongest when exposed to air, so keeping your vulva clean from menstrual fluid and keeping the blood inside the vaginal canal during training is the best way to prevent them.
Let me start by saying that your period may not be the best time to sport your new, sparkling white gi. However, the use of a menstrual cup can eliminate the fear of leaking mostly if not entirely. A menstrual cup is placed under the cervix and catches the blood in its silicone cup as it comes out. Unlike with tampons, the blood isn’t absorbed, so there is no chance of it soaking through. Menstrual cups can be used for 12 hours without being changed and depending on your flow, may need to be changed more or less often. It’s extremely unlikely that you will overflow a menstrual cup during a 1-3 hour training. I really think this is the best option for preventing leakage when training jiu jitsu on your period. However, if you are uncomfortable with a menstrual cup, you can try wearing a tampon with a pad underneath. I know many women who use this method and love it. Of course you can also use just a pad or just a tampon, but you will be much more vulnerable to leaks.
To train or not to train on your period is a personal question. However, I would love to see a world where women do not feel limited or ashamed of training on their periods. It sucks to miss 12 weeks (a whole 3 months!) of training and improvement every year because of your cycle. And ultimately the sport of jiu jitsu needs more women on the mats, more of the time.
If this article was helpful to you or you have a question recommendation for our next article, please comment below!