Women and BJJ: Periods

Let’s talk periods. Whether you call it your period, menstrual cycle, menstruation, your “time of the month,” Aunt Flo is in town, Shark Week, riding the crimson tide, or your dot, this article addresses concerns about rolling during that time of the month, or for men who are concerned about rolling with women on their periods (spoiler: you’re not likely to get menstrual blood on you!).

This article contains frank discussion about periods; juvenile or rude comments will be deleted post-haste! However, if you would like to leave anonymous comments telling a personal story, please do so, but I will need to manually approve them. If you leave an anonymous comment and you’d like your email deleted, please note it and I’ll delete both your note and your email address.

There's blood everywhere in this post

Be warned: There’s blood everywhere in this post

You can click on any of these to jump to the relevant sections, or click on the link below to read the article in its entirety.

  1. Should I go to class when I’m on my period?
  2. What if I’m experiencing cramps?
  3. What about sensitive breasts?
  4. Will jiu jitsu affect my cycle?
  5. What about my mood swings?
  6. What products should I use in class?
  7. What should I wear to class when I’m on my period?
  8. What if I bleed through in class or get blood on my partner?
  9. Info for guys

1. Should I go to class when I’m on my period?

My personal answer is YES! I don’t want it to stop me and I don’t let it.  Ultimately that decision is up to you. Usually there are more specific reasons why someone might not want to go – pain or fear of embarrassment, but I say – go to class.

2. What if I’m experiencing cramps?

Shockingly, jiu jitsu helps with that pain – both cramps and lower back pain. I’d always suffered from both. Before I started doing bjj, had you told me that jiu jitsu would help with the pain I would have thought you were crazy. I used to take pain pills, lay on the couch, eat ice cream, etc. If you’d told me that jiu jitsu would help the pain I’d have thought you were CRAZY! However, even on my most painful days, get me in a gym because as soon as we start exercising, I’m completely pain free without pills.

NCBI posted a paper called Effects of menstrual cycle on sports performance, and according to their research, “It has found that the physical performance was not affected by the menstrual period and the pain decreased during the training and competition.”

3. What about sensitive breasts?

I would love to hear from more women about this – please leave comments if you’ve found a different solution. When I was heavier, I had size G/H bras – and with it, I experienced much more breast pain, partly because they would move more during exercise. I found it helpful to wear two sets of sports bras. Two women I talked to said that they take a Tylenol before class if it gets really bad. Another woman said that overall she found that the exercise itself often reduced the amount of breast pain she normally felt on her period.

4. Will jiu jitsu affect my cycle?

The answer is: possibly.

This could affect pre-menstrual symptoms, including mood swings, cramps, breast pain, etc. It can also affect how many days your cycle lasts. Basically – anything you normally experience every month may change when you start doing jiu jitsu, or any kind of exercise. Before BJJ I knew my body well – how long my cycle lasted, how much pain I would be in, and after jiu jitsu, it changed. I didn’t have the pain warning signal that my period was going to start, which concerned me, and I even posted about it on jiu jitsu forums.

Also, if you work out intensely and have extremely low body fat, your periods may stop, which is called athletic amenorrhoea.

5. What about my mood swings?

Exercise can positively affect emotional distress related to menstruation. This is quoted on another study: “These results are consistent with the belief that women who frequently exercise may be to some extent protected from deterioration of mood before and during menstruation.” And similarly, this article noted “The regular exercisers obtained significantly lower scores on impaired concentration, negative affect, behaviour change and pain.”

I think the key is knowing how you handle your moods, and deal with them in a way that’s appropriate during class. If you get intensely weepy or angry and have a difficult time handling it, then it may not be great for you to go. If I get weepy and am able to excuse myself off the mat and cry in the back – no big deal, but if they’re Suprise!Tears then I might not go. It’s okay to cry, just don’t do it on the mats.

Similarly, I might decide that jiu jitsu is a way to deal with my intense irritation. I could ask to be paired up with the big MMA guys and go extra strong so that I can channel that anger somewhere. Or, if I realize that I’m likely to get angry AT my teammate, I might simply notice my emotions and if I’m feeling angry at them, then just tap early or sit out a round.

6. What products should I use in class?

BunnyJiuJitsu has a great post on this. Wearing a big pad to class is just not feasible. I made the switch a few years ago to the Divacup. Prior to that I used Insteads. I’m a HUGE FAN of the menstrual cups over tampons or pads. First is because I can put it in even if I only THINK my period is about to come. If you insert a tampon the day before you start your period because you’re worried it might start early – yikes. Pulling out a tampon from a non-menstruating body is uncomfortable at BEST, but it can cause microtears in the vaginal walls. If it’s not soaking up menstrual blood it means it’s soaking up what keeps your vagina lubricated. Menstrual cups can be worn literally any day of the year. Second is because I can wear it up to 12 hours  – or roughly about twice as long as you can wear a tampon. Third, they’re safer on the body than tampons are: no TSS, maintains your natural pH balance, and tampons are linked to vaginal ulcerations and vaginal lesions. Fourth, they’re better on the environment: “Women used a median of 13 menstrual products per cycle, or 169 products per year, which corresponds to approximately 771,248,400 products used annually in Canada” as compared to a single, multiple-use cup.

Whether it’s a Divacup, the Keeper, or the Moon Cup, they all basically look the same. Mine felt very uncomfortable until I cut off most of the “flexible rod for withdrawal.” Also note that these are NOT black. They’re usually a transparent color, although my friend’s Keeper was dark brown. Insteads now have reusable ones – that are good through an entire cycle rather than one time use.

When you first start to use menstrual cups, you’re potentially going to have some mishaps, so I’d use in conjunction with a pantyliner or something like that. But regardless of whether you use cups or tampons, change it right before class to help avoid messiness. Also, they can be really messy – like gushing over your fingers/hand. Although it may seem icky, there was a study where tampon-users used a menstrual cup for 3 cycles, and 91% said they would continue using the menstrual cup.

7. What should I wear to class when I’m on my period?

Gi: Worried about wearing white and bleeding through? Okay – wear black that week, assuming your school allows it. Bring an extra pair of gi bottoms just in case.

Shorts: Wear a set of compression shorts. Or two. Or an extra set of panties. That way, if you do have an accident, you’re literally covered.

8. What if I bleed through in class or get blood on my partner?

The Worst Thing In The World happened. You end up bleeding out and HORRORS! your period blood got on your training partner! Well, in the immortal words of Douglas Adams, “Don’t Panic!”

This is not a squeamish crowd. They are used to sweat, blood, feet in their faces, and the smell of nasty ass gis. So don’t be too embarrassed. I asked the guys at Jiu Jitsu forums what their reaction would be if a woman got period blood on him, and I was surprised by how awesome their reactions were! Ultimately the guys felt that period blood is better than vomit or feces or boogers, something they’ve seen during class, and that they’d be more concerned about the woman’s embarrassment.

If you’ve bled through your gi pants, excuse yourself from the mats. You can take your gi jacket off to cover yourself on the way out, clean yourself off, and hopefully change into a new set of bottoms and resume class. Otherwise, just change into your street clothes and finish class early.

If you notice your partner has bled through their gi pants, please discreetly tell them as soon as possible. It’s a kindness to let them know right away, and although they will be embarrassed (between 1 Well that sucks and 10 Oh dear God I want to die) they will be much LESS embarrassed if you don’t tell them and they discover it later and then they wonder how many people noticed, when did it happen and DAMN IT if you had known you would have fixed the problem.

This was shared by a woman I met online:

I’ve had the experience of menstrual blood soaking through my white gi trousers without me knowing as I didn’t realise my period had started. This happened at judo. It was brought to my attention by a black belt who was sitting the round out at the time (in fact she interrupted the round to let me know). It was right at the end of the session and although I’d stopped before the end of the round, by the time I’d apologised to my training partner for stopping half-way through, the class ended.

The relevant things to note for your article are probably:
* it would take a LOT of blood to soak all the way through a pair of gi trousers AND THEN get onto something else

* I am pretty sure you’d notice yourself BEFORE there was enough blood to get onto anyone else just from the feeling of your pants (your underwear to Americans) being absolutely soaked through

(my period floods for the first 36-48 hours or so, and although there was quite a bit of blood in my pants (my underwear) and enough had soaked through my trousers to be clearly visible from a few metres away, however none had got onto my partner. I also had the same thought that you’ve had to make you write your article, and so when I took my gi off I actually rubbed the trousers on my hand and also on my gi jacket – no blood was transferred.)

* If your round is interrupted because someone brings bleeding to your attention, you should also give your training partner a reason you’ve suddenly stopped training with them and rushed off the mat, otherwise they may think they did something wrong

9. A few facts for the guys reading

You might wonder how it’s possible that women can’t control their own period stuff. Well, unfortunately, our period clocks are not as regular as the clock on Lost. I can usually estimate my time of the month within 1-2 days courtesy of mymonthlycycle.com, but it’s still a little bit of a guess. This means that a period may start a tad early or late, so it can catch someone off guard. Similarly, although my period takes 5 days, there are times when I’ll get one extra day of menstrual fluid that catches me off guard.

No, not everyone’s periods can be timed down to the minute.

It helps to know a little bit about period blood. It’s not like it’s just a free flowing wound that is going to be dripping blood. To drip, the fabric would have to be overly saturated, and I guarantee that if that happened, the woman would be aware of it. It also tends to be thick, though this can change. It can be thick or thin depending on the day of the cycle. Sometimes it has the consistency of thick snot.

What would happen is that it would first saturate her panties, then saturate the inside of her gi pants, and then show on the outside of the gi pants. If you did happen to get period blood on you, it would be wherever her crotch had touched you – so if she’d been holding your leg in half guard, you might have gotten some on your gi pants. Or if she’d had full mount it might be on your gi top. You’d not likely to get it on your bare skin, and definitely not on your face or in your mouth or anything like that.

Note: it was brought to my attention in the comments that it actually may be easier for menstrual blood to show through the crotch because if your gi/panty fabric is soaked with sweat, it will bleed through more easily.

Final thoughts

I don’t miss jiu jitsu because of my period, and I find that overall bjj has had extremely positive effects on my cycle and my body. I was really shocked at how awesome the guys were at jiu jitsu forums, but I also understand that they tend to be pretty great guys. I think that gym owners and other women can go the extra mile for other women in the gym by keeping some emergency tampons on site – either regular or super absorbancy.

I think that overall it can feel like an uncomfortable topic to cover (seriously – this yahoo answer includes a gal who says she loves Kotex’s noiseless pad wrappers because omg! it’s soooooo embarrassing when they make “all that noise” o_O – it can be mortifying for both men and women if someone bleeds through their gi bottoms, but keep in mind, not everyone will feel grossed out or embarrassed about it. I certainly wouldn’t – hell, it’s a fact of life and it sucks if it happens, but it’s not the end of the world. I mentioned that if I did have an accident that I might be tempted to joke about my “lunar defense” but that I would be concerned about making the guys feel uncomfortable.

    • Yeah – I realized that on Jiu Jitsu Forums, or on other BJJ forums that often women pose questions, and a guy can point them in this direction. Similarly, it can be shrouded in so much embarrassment or uncomfortable-ness or secrecy that it can perpetuate myths or fears.

      I noticed this is your first comment – how did you come across the blog?

  1. I loove my menstrual cup! It’s green like my BJJ mats (well, not the same shade of green, but it’s still green). I use a Fleurcup – Divacups are too long and stiff for me and they don’t come in fun colours yet.

    My issues have been with feeling weak and bloating. I’ve been skipping BJJ for a couple days on my period as I’ve been too weak to do anything explosive. But, I found taking multivitamins and being more vigilant with eating iron rich foods during my period helped a lot last time. With bloating, I cannot take a knee on belly during most of my period – hurts plus I can feel the period gush of doom! And of course, someone always does it only when I’m on my freaking period! Though, it does make me work harder to get out of the position (then ask the next person to go more light and playful).

    • I chuckled at the idea of fun colors for a menstrual cup. ^_^

      Yeah – as I was going through class today I realized the one activity I dread on my period is doing the side steps – or jumping jacks. Basically the side splits sort of leg action. Gah. I’m all too familiar with that gush of doom. Yikes! Yeah – I notice that if I’m feeling particularly weak it sucks, but it just means I can work on noticing or doing other things.

    • Ditto the awesomeness of a menstrual cup for BJJ! It also needs to be the right one for the person. My period was way too heavy at times for my Keeper to handle. I switched to the Yuuki and can now be on the mat during my period again….bliss! I still *always* use a liner in conjunction with the cup.

      Awesome post!! Love that you have guys’ perspective too. I’ve wondered about that. Guess we just aren’t a squeamish bunch. lol

      • Yeah – jiu jitsu is sort of a gross sport when it comes to bodily fluids, so although I had an initial surprise, when I thought about it it made sense. Then again, I dearly love the community at jiu jitsu forums, and it’s what happens when you have a moderator who does his job.

        Thanks for the extra info about the different cups. I hadn’t known that – I’ve only used the Diva cup. I have found that after having used mine for almost two years that I can now tell when I need to change it. Like – there’s a feeling I get which is hard to describe, but I know it means “time to empty me!”

  2. Awesome article! Thanks, going to pass this around to the ladies in my academy. (And I’m an Instead girl myself – going to take a look at the Diva Cups now tho, thanks for the comparison!)

    • Glad to hear it! If they have any stories (horror or otherwise) or tips to contribute, please encourage them to do so!

      Have you made a switch to the reusable Insteads? I love that, although you’re adding to the landfills, that you’re only adding one thing 1-2 times per month rather than 10-20. (I used around 10-12 on each period).

      The feel of the menstrual cups IS different from Insteads. If it feels really uncomfortable, try cutting off most of that grippy thing that hangs down.

  3. Hey I use a diva cup and for the most part have no problem training. Except one day it just popped out while attempting an arm bar what a disaster down my leg and right onto the mat. I told my training partner and we took action quickly. I still laugh about it today, what else you going to do. All the guys thought I had a bloody nose, I did not correct them. I called it quits for the night.

    • Oh wow! I’ve NEVER had one pop out! I didn’t know it was even possible! You must have been bearing down very hard.

      That’s hilarious that they thought you had a bloody nose. Nice cover story! I agree – I’d be laughing as well.

    • I had the problem, that i squished my mooncup during training (with the pelvic floor muscle) and had therefore a bigger leak. Since then I have never used the mooncup any more during training.

      • OMG! That totally sucks. I laughed a bit at the idea, but it TOTALLY sucks! Have you tried the Insteads? They do NOT sit down as far as the moon cups. They sit all the way back and even bearing down they’d be really really difficult to dislodge, let alone squish out.

        Thank you for sharing!

  4. How many have taken the pill or taken hormonal shots to just suppress their period? I’ve been contemplating this for a while, and was wondering how it has worked for them?

    • That’s a great question that, unfortunately, I don’t have an answer to. Hopefully one of my readers will! When I got a Depoprovera shot YEARS ago – that was my one and only time. I gained weight like crazy and I didn’t like all the extra hormones flooding my body.

    • I was taking the pill marketed as “seasonale” when I started bjj. One period every three months. It worked great. Even if you happened to have spotting from missing a pill it was never enough to get through the layers I always wore to class. It also limited my worse PMS symptoms – crying at everything and cramps from hell. I’d still be on it if I wasn’t trying to get pregnant. I really hate not being in control of my emotions for basically 25% of every month

    • This is probably too late to help the original poster of the question, but I’ve been on a lot of different forms of birth control. I found that the implant (er Nexplanon, IIRC) caused constant spotting, which was more inconvenient than a regular bleed. Apparently that’s very common with that implant. Depo provera shots worked great for me but I had to stop those for different reasons (I travel loads so couldn’t always get an appointment for a shot!

      Microgynon also stopped periods for me – I took that for a few years but when I changed doctors and my new doctor noticed I was a migraine sufferer they took me off it right away. Apparently microgynon can increase your risk of suffering from a stroke if you have migraines. So, if you’re someone who wants to take a hormonal pill just to control your cycle, be sure to discuss the options carefully with your doctor.

      These days I train heavily (martial arts 5-6 times a week plus weights and cardio) and I have athletic amenorrhoea. I’ve always been really light and skinny but my BMI has been around 16 for the last three years. My doctor is happy enough that I’m healthy in spite of this, and I feel fine other than the lack of periods and the fact that I feel the cold easily, but I wouldn’t recommend people pursue that BMI just to lose their periods!

    • You’re welcome. It was a bit eye opening for me to read – I hadn’t realized some of that awful stuff about tampons before. And despite one new member telling me that I posted a ridiculous comment – I thought that the comments on JJF were very positive and I think that if someone does feel a bit nervous about that aspect, that it would set their mind at ease a little bit.

    • I hadn’t heard about the leak resistant coating. Thanks for sharing that insight!

      Loooove me some Douglas Adams. Don’t Panic, and always carry a towel. His rules.

  5. Hi, just adding another perspective from someone who has bled through at training with white pants =)

    Mine happened at the end of my period, I was rushed and forgot to change my tampon before I went but figured when I got there with the amount of flow I’d be ok (at my heaviest I need to change a regular tampon 4x a day, then maybe only 2x a day). I didn’t notice any blood until I was getting changed, at which point I saw a reasonably large stain on my pants on the crotch area- definitely visible, although dilute. There actually wasn’t a huge amount of blood in my underwear, but because everything was soaked through with sweat (including the shorts I was wearing underneath) I think it just got diluted and transferred through the layers. I was instantly horrified, but then when I thought about it no one had been acting weird and most people had been chatting rather than paying attention to the people rolling so I figured no one must have seen.. and I decided that if they had and were going to pretend it didn’t happen then I could do the same!

    So I guess what to take from my experience is that you don’t need a lot of blood for it to show up if everything else is sweaty, and keeping a few spare tampons in your locker or gym bag is a really good idea!

    • Whoa – fair point – didn’t consider the pre-moistened fabric part of the equation. Thank you so much for bringing this up.

      I’m glad that overall your experience was good even though you were initially horrified.

  6. I keep tampons in the medicine cabinet at my school. 1) This helps me because I need them every month, and 2) I know it helps the women to be discreet when they find out they need one. It’s win-win and the guys should all be mature enough to know what a tampon looks like nowadays so it won’t weird them out.

    • Yeah – I was going to take a tampon to class to leave it yesterday, but then realized I literally own none. I may buy a small box for the gym after we move. And agreed – it’s not like it’s a huge SHOCKER! that women have a period.

  7. Thank you for posting this. I never heard of menstrual cups before, but will definitely give them a try. I’ve been using tampons and liners on my heavy flow days. I had recently returned to training after having my first baby, so my body was all out of whack due to the overflood of hormones. Having a menstrual cycle again was so unfamiliar and irregular. Throughout the day, there was barely any flow, so using just a liner sufficed. Where I train, only white gis were allowed at the time. I used a liner with my underwear and wore compression shorts under my gi. During class, we were drilling the armbar from closed guard. I felt a gush sliding down my back, and excused myself to the restroom (walking backwards towards the door). Not only did blood slide down my butt crack, it soaked through my underwear, compression shorts, and gi pants. I immediately changed clothes and went home. I felt so embarrassed that I couldn’t ask my partner if I bled on him.

    • UGH! I haaaate that feeling of blood sliding up your butt crack! Gah. Hooorrrible feeling. Yeah. Basically – you feel that gush, you get off the mats quickly. Thanks for sharing your story!

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  9. I can endorse the face that if you train hard – you may not have very frequent periods or just extremely light. As for the sensitive boobs idea – I wear a smaller sports bra. Even though im a C cup, I wear an X-Small to restrict the girls.

  10. Great article Julia!
    – 2. For period pain has anyone tried the stick-on heat patches? curious if they’d stay in place for a sparring session??
    – 7.On my ‘worst days’ as I have extremely heavy periods I wear 2 prs of knickers, 2 prs of shorts (1 is extra thick) and a dark gi and take the opportunity to go to the loo when my instructor tells us to get ready for sparring. Had to stop a training session early once due to a ‘nose bleed’ so I’m extra cautious now LOL
    – I used to also have the problem where I was weaker on my period, now I take 200% RDA Iron from a couple of days before my period and I feel just as strong as I do any other time!
    -3. Would also love to hear how other girls deal with this. I’ve varied in size from D-G cup before and for a couple of days I’m super-sensitive, my issue is not movement though, but just any kind of touch/pressure ie being under side control/mount etc really hurts. Veering off topic a bit I think the problem with most sports bras is they’re designed to support movement when the wearer is upright ie jogging rather than sideways, upside down rolling etc movement that is BJJ. Best I have found so far after years of looking is this – ( http://www.shockabsorber.co.uk/products/active-range/active-sports-padded/) I don’t feel any movement (whichever way up I am even when I’m super sensitive! 🙂

    • Hi Pippa! Thank you for the input.

      I’ve used stick-on heat patches, but not sure how well they would stay on. When I’ve used them my skin was totally dry. They were very nice, though. I wonder if athletic tape could be used to help keep them on. I know they are a bit hard/crunchy – the chemicals inside seem to stiffen (perhaps it was the brand I was using) so they aren’t super duper flexible, though they wouldn’t need to be if they were on your lower back.

      Good idea about using break time to check yourself and about the iron – two things I hadn’t considered.

      Shock Absorber bras are doubleplusgood! My favorite model was the D Max Sports Bra by Shock Absorber. Absolutely loved this bra. Now I can THANKFULLY wear Korean sized bras – and I wear a squish top that doesn’t separate the girls but does a good job pancaking them to my body.

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  12. Love this post! Not something I can talk out with folks, but I have to navigate. I’ve totally bled through a few times before. In general, when I’d had very long, active & vigorous class AND was at the heaviest flow of my period. I should just grow the gumption to run out and change my tampon after the second hour!

    What makes it worse, though, is that my gi is generally also saturated with sweat. So you mix sweaty [read: wet] gi and even a few drops of blood – and it dilutes and spreads much more than it usually would. It might only be a few drops, but its a great pink mass in the shape of your sweat. Ugh. I’m extra paranoid on my period, because I can’t always tell if I’m wet because I’m working hard… or because my body isn’t working with me.

    No guy has ever said anything to me about it, though I once had a woman WATCHING the class come up and tell me afterwards. And I’ve twice gone home to discover, to my horror, that I’d bled through and not even noticed. But I really think they either honestly didn’t notice, or were awesome enough not to care. But since we’re all pretty ‘bandage that bleeding wound already!’ at our school, I suspect they would’ve discretely said something. Maybe. I dunno – being the only girl in a group of men tends to mean they don’t always know what to do. Though that forum thread really makes me think that maybe they just Don’t Care.

    I’ve come to learn to shrug it off. I wash the blood off and go on with my day. I roll. I’m not going to take time off because I’m on the rag, and sometimes accidents happen. I just try to prevent them – wearing an extra pair of shorts and a pantyliner helps. Personally, I have to work out on my period – otherwise I’m bound to be too grumpy to function. I’m pretty good at controlling surprise!tears, and mostly I just pair myself with someone who’ll push me to burn out all that excess emotion. Definitely agree with the bloating thing, though – that is the most uncomfortable part, but I just push through it.

    I’m really curious about menstrual cups – I’m really surprised to hear that quite a few women use them. I’ve looked at them before but generally figured that any sort of ‘cup’ and ‘rolling and grappling and throwing’ wouldn’t go well together. I mean – I move, I fly, I flip (maybe not because I WANT to…) – but again, I just don’t know anything about them. Will totally look into it, in case its something that might work better for me. Hum…

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  15. i’m really excited about researching and purchasing the Diva Cup. Thanks for the heads up!!
    An herbal pill and root called Don Quai eased my cramps a bit, but Im still having issues with a HEAVY flow.
    The stick on patches DO NOT work. I tried them.
    I’m also paranoid about smell, it drives me crazy like a dog whistle that only I know is going off.
    I do carry extra supplies those days,and had an issue with it staying in place never thought about compression shorts underneath but i’m getting those too!
    BJJ is competitive its very easy to get so wrapped up in a roll, and embarrass yourself.
    And this is why I started sitting those days out.
    Traveled to another school with my team. I thought it was safe to go out. I really thought it was the end of period. Then SONIC BOOM!!!! ” gush of death”. I looked like the japanese flag. I had to get out of there. I heard some guys making comments but I was so mortified and feeling stupid. Every one was a blur to me, I was only visiting and never went back. I had to get out of there and never look back.

    Another time my body tricked me – ( last day, totally super light spotting only * Ok! I can do this ) I was fighting back so hard I straight contracted and pushed the tampon right of my vagina.Im feeling it moving around in my pants and im trying to get off the mats and hoping it dosent just roll out of the pants. My oblivious opponent in still playfully trying to tap and tackle me.” If he doesnt get off me Im going to kick him in the face. I need to get out of here!”
    In the bathroom there actually was no mess.Thank god and then I thought WHOA JIU JITSU GODS THANK YOU FOR GIVING ME SUPER ABS!!! by the time I got myself together class was over.
    Having reinforcements & a safety kit if you plan to train /power through is important. ( Fem Deodorant sprays, Painkillers, Tampons, Pads, Clothes)

    I sweat so much more mid period, bleed more, nauseous/bloated/ with tender breasts more and have just been staying home those middle days when my body is like an active volcano.


  16. Thank you for posting about the cups. I must explore this option.
    I want to comment on sensitive breasts. The worst for me is one or two days in which pressure is the devil. I wear a McDavid protective sports bra then. It has a rubber octagon system that dissipates a lot of the pressure and is not uncomfortable like some plastic cup bras. Best I have found to date.

  17. Very interesting article, thx. Personally I use to wear my pad with a very tight panty + compression short till now it is working.

  18. Hi I´m from Brazil and I have been training jj and muay thai for a while.Personally I cant´t train with huge cramps ( I always have them on the 2nd day) It get´s worst and I feel very week ( I tested it several times). Light cramps I take an advil and train normally. For “protection” I wear big pads, a tight (but confortable) panty and compression shorts – I change the pad just before class and like this I have never had any leaks, even with huge flows. For the breast sensibility just before the periods I wear a tight sports bra and it works quite well.

  19. Bwahaha over the “better than vomit” comment. I can completely appreciate that. The first time I tried BJJ before I wimped out because Master Santana got stuck in Brazil and stopped for about 9 months I was partnered with another white belt. It was my fourth class and her first. We would supposed to do choke holds. I stopped immediately when she tapped out but I thought I wasn’t quick enough. She vomited copiously all over both of us. I felt so bad that I might have triggered it that I rushed into the bathroom with her and mopped both of us down with paper towels. This was even harder than trying to clean up after my cat when she vomits which almost always makes me want to vomit too. So, she decided she wanted to continue which meant I didn’t really do anything close to a “choke” with her and then she started to get nauseous again – this time missing me but still hitting the mat and her own gi. Turns out she had a stomach and thought she was over it. Apparently not.

    As for periods, even though they FINALLY stopped at age 54, I can completely appreciate the advantages of the cups. I once doubled up on tampons and forgot I had two in. Never a good surprise when you find out that you left one in.

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  21. I love this article.
    I recently (last Friday) started BJJ on campus and after only 2 lessons (last Friday and yesterday), what do I wake up with this morning? The dreaded monster..

    I’m not going to lie, I usually get just a little (quite) emotionally unbalanced during this time but for the first time.. I’m feeling normal. My only concern was whether or not I could continue with BJJ tomorrow.

    Thanks to your article I’ve decided to give it a go, layer up and take spare pants along.
    I do have one or two more embarrassing (for me atleast) questions I’d like to ask if possible ..

  22. I started using menstrual cups because of your blogpost. My verdict after 3 months with the cups and training BJJ 4 to 5 times per week: I’m never going back to tampons and pads. 😀
    I’m just sad that I tried them out so late. Dunno really what kept me from it.

    I empty the cup before class (still at home) and use it together with a cloth pad. In the beginning, I had a lot of spotting (but never big spills), now there’s almost nothing.
    Thankfully, we are allowed to wear black gis, so I don’t worry if the cloth pad might have shifted. When I notice, I just pull it back in place.
    Yesterday, we did a lot of back rolls and “dip your toes to the floor behind your head on the left side/right side” during warm up. That felt really odd with the cup — as if I was leaking. But when I checked in the bathroom after the warm-up, nothing had come out. 🙂

    When I read about the mishaps with the cups here in the comments, my thought is that they might be too soft or too small for the wearer.

    I bought a Lunette cup because I heard they are the ideal beginner’s cup for women who have given birth or who have weak pelvic floor muscles (me on both counts). With the Lunette, the rim is so strong, that it smacks open and into place whatever you do. If you have strong pelvic floor muscles or not given birth yet, the Lunette might feel uncomfortable.
    I tried a classic Me Luna cup in M as well (because they look so nice in lavender and pink :-). I would have given up on cups if that had been my only experience.
    The rim is so soft (even in the classic version of the cup) that it’s a science to open the cup inside and I had so much spotting, I needed to change the pad several times per day.
    Now that I have more experience with positioning and opening a cup, I tried a Me Luna Classic in a bigger size (L instead of M) and it worked okay on the first days of my period this month. I will switch back to the large Lunette today because my flow got stronger.
    So it’s definitely not one-size-fits-all. And it helps to google “opening up xxx cup” with the name of your cup. For example, the Me Luna only has 2 air holes. You have to fold the cup at the site of the holes or it won’t open properly.
    It also helps to use a drop of lubricant on the cup and the rim on the lighter days, so that you can slide the cup up high enough that your muscles can really grip it. The only times a cup hurt for me or slid out when bearing down was when I positioned it too low bec. I let go too soon or it was difficult to move it up high enough.

    • Awesome Awesome Awesome! I’m so glad to hear it! I actually did have a period slip a few years ago (after writing this article). I wasn’t embarrassed, but I just noticed and got off the mats. Apparently what happens if your pants are completely wet with sweat is that the menstrual fluid gets to be a very light color and spreads out. Yay! /s.

      I have found that between exercise and having a new husband, I definitely prefer Instead Softcups – they have a one-per-period reusable cup now. It fits more like a diaphragm, high up behind the pelvic bone, whereas the Luna and Diva cups hang low toward the opening. This means it’s less likely to push out, and also you can do the sex with it in. 😉

      Thank you for sharing your experiences!!

  23. What if you do t have backup anything.. Id be realy embrassed. Im just curious and need a few tips i suppose…

    • I’m assuming you mean you have one form of period-control and nothing else.

      I’d train. The tip I would give you: Change it as close to class as possible. If you’re wearing a tampon, put in a new one before class. If you’re using a menstrual cup, change it before class.

      The embarrassment fades. I once leaked during class. I noticed and bowed out. There’s zero need to die of embarrassment–life is bloody and messy, and the cooler you are about it, the cooler everyone else will be.

  24. the type u can wear to class .. What if u cant use thoose tampoons and cup.. Only pads? If your movi g alot and doing class for an hour and only using a pad and grappling would it leak ??

    • Hi Ticia! I’m responding to your comment. In the future, can you please type out all your words and just do a very simple spell check. Thank you!

      Pads is rough. I’m not sure I would do it. In that case, I’d use a backup and try those period panties that folks have. I have never tried them, so I’m curious as to how it would work for athletes. Good luck!