Pole Dancing on Your Period

by | Education

Pole dancing is fun, exciting, and fulfilling…until Aunt Flow comes around and you have three back-to-back pole dancing classes to go to.

What do you do? Is it safe to pole on your period? How do you manage it while still keeping enough bare skin to stick to the pole?

Pole dancing is an incredibly dynamic sport. You’ll exert yourself physically, invert, spin, stretch, and much more – so is that OK all times of the month?

It’s a perfectly acceptable thing to be concerned about! Maybe you feel uncomfortable asking other pole dancers what they do, or maybe you haven’t gotten a clear answer.

Buckle up and get your feminine products out, ladies. It’s time to dive into the nitty-gritty details of pole dancing on your period.

As always, if you have specific concerns about your period, always consult your medical professional – this article is not intended to be taken as medical advice, but to set the record straight on several common questions.

Is It Safe to Pole Dance During Your Period?

Now, you may not feel like doing a hardcore workout while you’re on your period, but that’s okay. Take it easy! No one knows your body quite like you do, so you know how far you feel you can go on any given day.

Yes, it is absolutely safe to pole dance during your period (in most cases!) Unless you’ve received information otherwise from your doctor, then you’re in the clear.

If exercising makes you cramp more intensely during your period, then take the time to do light stretching instead of pole. On the flip side, some pole dancers may find that the frequent, aerobic exercise helps relieve their premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms. 1

Inverting During Your Period

There’s a widespread fear among many women that inverting while you’re on your period – no matter if you’re on the pole, practicing yoga, or just goofing around – can potentially cause something called “retrograde menstruation.”

Yoga instructors, pole instructors, and students of both have helped perpetrate this fear because, well, for the most part, it makes logical sense. During your menstrual cycle, the blood flows out of your uterus, right? Wouldn’t that mean it’s controlled by gravity?

Chances are, if you’re told not to do an inversion because you’re on your period, your instructor might not give a reason. If they do, they might chalk it up to concerns about endometriosis, a condition where uterine cells begin growing in places outside of the uterus (or, at least, that’s the simplified version… This condition is worth an article in itself.)

The concern stems from the misinformation that retrograde menstruation is a theoretical cause of this condition. 2

Retrograde menstruation was coined by a doctor in the ‘20s. His theory was that the menstrual tissue could flow backwards through the fallopian tubes and deposit on various organs in the abdomen where it then grows. 3

Of course, this theory is widely disputed as there are too many other factors that play into the condition. Up to 90% of women tested for retrograde bleeding do indeed have menstrual blood in the surrounding pelvic organs, 4 while only around 10% of women develop endometriosis.

But, even then, it’s part of the immune system’s job to suck up any misplaced bits of the uterine lining before it can cause any problems.

For women who are at risk of or have this condition, it’s still not a problem. Menstruation isn’t controlled by gravity, like you might think; it’s controlled by uterine contractions.

That’s what your cramps do, ladies!

Since inverting doesn’t have an effect on your uterine contractions, you won’t be at any more risk than any other upright position. 5, 6 Natural, downward menstruation even happens to astronauts in zero-gravity! 7

 

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Natural, downward menstruation even happens to astronauts in zero-gravity!

 

So, fortunately, in most cases, you don’t have to worry about inverting on your period. If you still feel uncertain about it, then it’s up to you to choose not to take any risks and invert, and no one is going to think any less of you!

Of course, none of this means you have to invert, either. If you don’t feel like inverting while you’re on your period because of how you feel, then by all means, you don’t have to invert.

How Your Menstrual Cycle Affects You as a Dancer

 

Okay, so it is safe to pole dance on your period. But, do you know how your period affects your workout? Your body changes, your hormones change, and you can feel like a completely different person from one week to another.

Fortunately, if you understand how your body reacts on a week-to-week basis, you can consciously curb emotional difficulties and better plan when to give your body a rest.

Week 1 – The Cycle (The Menstrual Phase)

What’s Happening:

The average period will last between 2-7 days. During that time, you can expect to lose 30 – 80 mL of blood. 

Your uterus is contracting to expel broken uterine lining, and your estrogen and progesterone levels are at their lowest point of the month. Towards the end of your period, these levels will begin to rise again.

How it Affects You:

You may feel bloated and begin to cramp as your uterus contracts. If you have a low iron count in your blood, you may feel more fatigue than usual.

Your muscles may also feel tighter, and you may need to intake more water to feel hydrated.

Week 2 – Pre-Ovulation (The Follicular Phase)

What’s Happening:

This phase begins on day one, overlapping with your menstrual cycle, and typically ends around day 13, once it has matured an egg within your ovaries.

While the egg is forming, your body also begins reforming the uterine lining it just shed. Your estrogen levels will peak at the end of this stage and you’ll begin to ovulate.

How it Affects You:

Your mood will increase with your estrogen levels and you’ll feel more focused and coordinated throughout the day. You may not feel as hungry during the day, despite working out frequently.

During this stage, you may also be more prone to anxiety. If that sounds like your pre-ovulation phase, then it’s important to practice self-care. Calm breathing techniques and meditation can help relax or mitigate anxiety.

Week 3 – Ovulation

What’s Happening:

When your body goes through the ovulation phase, it’s preparing an egg for development. This only lasts for a day, rather than a full week. It typically occurs midway through your monthly cycle. The egg waits in your fallopian tubes for 24 hours before dissolving.

If you are on hormonal birth control, your body won’t release an egg at all. 9

Your hormones will be on a rollercoaster this week, reaching their peak and the taking a nosedive – only to rise again slightly before the next week.

How it Affects You:

You’ll feel at your best and most self-confident at this time of month as your hormones are at their peak. Your physical performance will also be at its peak.

Towards the end of the week, you may start to feel a little sluggish and like you just want to curl up in a warm blanket and read a book.

If this happens, you’ll want to get more sleep if possible and eat frequent, small snacks during the day to keep your body energized.

Week 4 – Premenstrual

What’s Happening:

Your estrogen and progesterone levels are plummeting, and once they reach the lowest point, the cycle will start over again, and you’ll menstruate. You may experience tenderness, headaches, bloating, and fatigue.

This is the time when symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) will begin to show up.

You may feel more nervous, anxious or emotionally sensitive; you may also experience mood swings. All of these symptoms are normal, caused by the low levels of estrogen in your body.

How it Affects You:

The symptoms of PMS are a hurdle for pole dancers. Luckily, exercise can help increase your mood and decrease many of your symptoms during this week.

You may not feel as energetic while you’re dancing, but it’s perfectly okay to push yourself – just be mindful of what your limits are and give yourself allowance to pause and rest.

Does Working out Make Your Period Come Faster?

Many people believe that exercising will either make your period come faster or delay your period. Contrary to popular belief, working out does not make your period come faster, 10 nor does it typically delay the process.

There are a variety of factors that help regulate your period and all the hormones around it. Chances are, if you’re just starting pole dancing, you’re not going to have a problem with your period coming faster than it should.

One notable reason why your period might be irregular is emotional stress 11 – working out, particularly gentle yoga or pole dancing routines, may help relieve stress. Depending on how much stress factored into your cycle, you may find that it does indeed help regulate your period.

What Do Strippers Do During Their Period?

If you make a living dancing, then it’s going to be impossible to take a week off every month. You also, however, don’t want any wardrobe malfunctions on stage, so it’s a tricky scenario.

Fortunately, however, the community has come together to answer this question on a variety of Reddit posts when someone would get curious enough to ask. 12, 13

To save you from some of the cringe-worthy stories shared, we’ve included the highlights here.

One redditor’s answer was short and sweet:

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We either cut the string of the tampon, tuck it inside, or we just use menstrual cups.

 

But on another thread, another redditor went into more detail.

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Stripper here at a topless club. We work during our periods and use a tampon but cut the string prior to insertion. There are many panty changes, baby wipe baths, and Summer’s Eve spray deodorant to keep the lady parts fresh. I have tried a menstrual cup but it didn’t work out with all of the movement. I have seen similar practice at full nude clubs.

 

A quip for those who aren’t thrilled about the idea about cutting the strings – you can still roll them up!

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The occasional girl that doesn’t like to cut the string will wrap the string up in a ball and push it in the vagina but this is risky for wardrobe malfunctions.

 

One Redditor replied:

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I was a pasties and G-string dancer/contortionist for eleven years. […] I rolled and tucked for eleven years without mishap. If a rolled string won’t stay up, someone isn’t doing their Kegels.

 

Of course, there’s the inevitable question:

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I’m a woman and… how the hell do you get them out again?

 

Which one redditor was happy to answer in detail:

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It’s really not that difficult. Bear down with your vaginal muscles and push while inserting one or two fingers into the vagina. Once you feel the tampon grip on by pinching the sides and sliding out.

The first few times aren’t easy but I can do it in my sleep now. Easiest position for me is standing up.

You would have to wash your hands after.

 

What Can You Do About Cramping?

Cramping is an unfortunate symptom of a period. You feel cramps when your uterus contracts – something you can’t really control.

Cramps can vary from barely noticeable to mind-numbingly debilitating. In any case, they’re not something you want to be distracted by when you’re working on your new pole dancing routine.

Heating Pad or Warm Baths

After your pole dance session, you might find that a warm bath or a low-temperature heating pad placed on your lower abdomen helps relieve cramping. This is also a great time to practice other self-care habits that will help your mental and emotional health during this time.

Pain Relief Medication

You may find that pain relief medication has helped you in the past, whether it’s natural herbal remedies or over the counter options. If you’re feeling sluggish and need to alleviate your cramping, you can take your medication.

For most medications, it’s advised to take your medication several hours before your pole dancing session, or once you are at home and resting for the rest of the night. This is because many medications can either make you drowsy or hinder your pain awareness, making it easier to over-extend your body and potentially cause injuries.

Working Out

We’ve already talked about how working out affects the timing of your period, but it’s also worth mentioning that that working out can help alleviate your cramps as well. 14, 15

Not only that, but it can help boost your mood and improve your appetite, helping keep your body from swinging too far out of sync from your normal routines.

Period Products and Their Effectiveness

Pole Dancing with a Tampon

Tampons are easy to hide and flex with your body, making them the best disposable option for pole dancers.

Before using tampons, we suggest reviewing menstrual cups as a reusable alternative that’s easier on your wallet and safer for your environment.

Pole Dancing with a Pad

Pole dancing with a pad can be nerve-wracking to say the least.

While we’re sure it doesn’t have to be said, we highly discourage using pads with wings as they may poke through the edges of your shorts and show their winged glory to everyone who happens to glance your way.

That doesn’t mean it can’t be done, however. We suggest using a fitness pantiliner that can flex with your body.

Change into the pad right before class, keep a few extra on hand in your pole dance bag, change out when class is over and you’re good to go!

Pole Dancing with a Menstrual Cup

Menstrual cups caused a big stir in the world of feminine hygiene – and for good reason! These menstrual cups are free from chemicals and offer 12 hours of protection against leaks.

These cups are reusable, and though you have to sanitize them yourself, this makes them fantastic for the environment. At a pricetag under $20, it will easily save you money on feminine products.

These are also becoming more and more popular for exotic dancers as it is easily hidden like tampons.  

 

Pole Dancing with Period Panties

Period panties cost a pretty penny, but they’re oh so worth it. Who wants period panties that keep us from leaking through and they look passable as part of your polewear? Um, we do!

Plus, if you want to sweeten the deal and justify it to your wallet, period panties are much better for your body and the environment compared to tampons or pads.

Period Hacks for Dancers

Wear Black Shorts with More Coverage

Black shorts hide all sorts of things, from ink to grass, and even period stains.

Pick up a pair of generic black shorts to wear to class when your flow is particularly heavy. All you need is better coverage on the inseam, and you’ll be golden. The confidence gained by not having to worry about leakage is priceless!

Double Up, Buttercup!

Some pole dancers don’t trust just one method, so they start doubling up, which means they’re wearing both a tampon and a pad, or a menstrual cup and period panties, or… you get the idea.

Doubling up is an excellent idea, especially if you have a particularly heavy flow, or have trouble with your current method covering all the areas it needs to in your full range of motion.

Listen to Your Body

If your body says it doesn’t want to pole dance, then give yourself a break!

Listen to your body. Listen to yourself.

There are a dozen reasons to listen to your body in a situation like this. If you try to push through a routine that you don’t have the energy for, you’ll start taking shortcuts with your form and increase your risk of injury.

Practice Self-Care

Through the stress of daily life, we often forget to practice self-care. We promise ourselves we’ll do in tomorrow, before another thing comes up, or we might get into the habit of thinking these habits are frivolous or selfish.

If you frequently practice self-care habits, you’ll feel more energized throughout the day, stronger, and ready to take on whatever the day has to throw at you. All of this leads to better physical health as well, because your body isn’t holding onto as many stress hormones, meaning your chances of developing serious diseases lower.

Follow a Yoga Routine for Menstrual Cramps

This yoga routine is excellent to do right before bed, or as part of your cool down routine after pole. This gentle, abdomen-focused routine is also excellent for helping calm your nerves and relaxing at the end of the night.

References

 

1, Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research: The effects of 8 weeks of regular aerobic exercise on the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome in non-athlete girls, retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3748549/
2, Nurs Womens Health: Endomentriosis and Chronic Pelvic Pain, retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3096669/#S2title
3, Endometriosis.org: Causes, retrieved from http://endometriosis.org/endometriosis/causes/
4, Obstet Gynecology: Retrograde menstruation in healthy women and in patients with endometriosis, retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6234483
5, Slate.com: There’s No Reason to Sip Headstands During Your Period, retrieved from https://slate.com/human-interest/2014/08/yoga-while-on-your-period-inversions-are-totally-fine.html
6, Yogainternational.com: Is It Safe to Practice Inversions During Menstruation? Retrieved from https://yogainternational.com/article/view/is-it-safe-to-practice-inversions-during-menstruation1
7, NYTimes.com: Periods in Space Are Not That Different, Though a Bit More Complicated, retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/22/science/periods-in-space-are-not-that-different-though-a-bit-more-complicated.html
8, NHS.uk; Overview of Heavy Periods, retrieved from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/heavy-periods/
9, WebMD.com: 5 Things You May Not Know About Your Period, retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/women/5-things-about-your-period#1
10, Medicine (Baltimore): Effects of Intensive Training on Menstrual Function and Certain Serum Hormones and Peptides Related to the Female Reproductive System, retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5457858/
11, MedicalNewsToday.com: How Can You Make Your Period Come Faster? Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324830.php
12, Reddit.com: What Do Strippers Do About Their Period? Retrieved from https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/1v36z9/what_do_strippers_do_about_their_period/
13, Reddit.com: What Do Strippers Do When on Their Periods? Retrieved from https://www.reddit.com/r/NoStupidQuestions/comments/9e9eub/what_do_strippers_do_when_on_their_periods/
14, British Journal of General Practice: The Role of Exercise in the Treatment of Menstrual Disorders: The Evidence, retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2662100/
15, Journal of Education and Health Promotion: The Effect of Aerobic Exercise on Primary Dysmenorrhea: A Clinical Trial Study, retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5791467/

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