“It’s because of my period”: Olympic swimmer breaks menstrual taboo

Posted by
Harriet Hall

Sadly, in 2016, the biological fact that women shed their womb linings once a month in order to be able to reproduce and – oh no big deal – sustain the entire human race, is something many people are ‘grossed-out’ by, or purely in denial about.

So it came as a pleasant surprise when one female athlete said ‘f*ck it’, I’m on my period.

Chinese Olympic swimmer Fu Yuanhui broke taboos by making a series of frank comments following a relay race.

The 20-year-old had already been making waves thanks to her funny interview responses and animated expressions

But this weekend, following the 4 x 100-metre medley relay in which Yuanhui and her teammates came in fourth place, the athlete has received even more support thanks to her post-race comments.

Crouched on the ground clutching her stomach after the race, the swimmer said that she didn't perform as well because she was on her period, telling reporters:

“I feel I didn't swim well today. I let my teammates down.

“Because my period came yesterday, I'm feeling a bit weak, but this is not an excuse.”

Fu Yuanhui

Fu Yuanhui

The swimmer has since been praised all over social media for breaking the taboo of discussing menstruation and sport.

Competing in sports during your period is not discussed often – partly due to many coaches being men. But, additionally, it is a subject rarely discussed openly in China.

According to a recent study, tampons are used in China by only 2% of women, because of cultural resistance and lack of education around periods. Additionally, the myth that using a tampon could stop women being virgins, is fairly widespread. The country’s first domestic tampon brand is said to be launching later this month.

For many Chinese women on social media, Yuanhui’s comments made them realise it was hygenic and safe to swim during menstruation. 

The news comes soon after a woman in Georgia called-out her local swimming pool in a viral Facebook post. The pool had posted a sign that read: "Dear Ladies! Do not go to the pool during periods." An ensuing backlash resulted against the misogynistic and mis-informed sign that implied swimming whilst mensutrating is unhygienic.