This Gym Banned Menstruating Women From the Pool for Fear of "Contamination"

This Gym Banned Menstruating Women From the Pool for Fear of "Contamination"

Women are often made to feel like their periods are gross or disgusting. But this upscale gym in Tbilisi, Georgia takes period-shaming to a whole new level. 

When a woman named Sophie Tabatadze joined a gym in Tbilisi, the capital city of Georgia, she was shocked to find that the upscale facility had banned menstruating women from using the pool. 

The sign at Vake Swimming Pool And Fitness Club was direct, warning: "Dear Ladies! Do not go to the pool during periods." 

Tabatadze was outraged and called the company out on Facebook, arguing that the ban is offensive. "By the way, since according to your rules we are not allowed to use a swimming pool five to six days each month, do we get a preferential price compared with men?" Tabatadze wrote. 

Another local Facebook user wrote: "I'm constantly oversharing about how fantastic, Western, hip, progressive etc. Tbilisi is and thought this was a meme when I first saw it... what makes me even sadder than the man who decided to put this up is the [same man who makes] women pay $200 a month for membership." 

Tabatadze also wrote on the company's Facebook page in Georgian, calling the ban misogynistic. 

According to Buzzfeed's translation, the company replied: "Our statement is not sexist and has a preventive objective. We had a case, when the water was contaminated due to which [we] had suffered damage. We try to follow norms of hygiene and we ask our members to do the same."

To a degree, there might be some truth to this: a gym staffer named Natia told BuzzFeed that the gym has found tampons floating in the pool and it costs the facility a lot of money to replace the water afterwards. 

Yet the women angrily commenting on the gym's Facebook page clearly believe the ban stems from period stigma, not from concern over member hygiene. Many are now posting articles about menstruation on the company's page, detailing how it's safe for women on their periods to swim. 

For the record, there's nothing unhygienic about swimming during your period, provided you use a tampon or menstrual cup while swimming. 

Even if somehow, menstrual blood did leak into the water, "properly chlorinated pool water" kills any harmful germs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In the US, the CDC website says it doesn't know of any cases where a swimmer got sick because of blood in the pool. 

In fact, it's actually much more likely that poop is contaminating pool water, rather than menstrual blood or abandoned tampons. A study by the CDC found that 58% of surveyed pool filters tested positive for E. coli, a bacteria that is found in human feces. While that number might sound scarily high, other studies have shown that many people carry a small amount of fecal matter into the pool when they swim, particularly if they don't shower with soap and water beforehand. 

Because poop bacteria can make swimmers sick, the CDC recommends people with diarrhea avoid pools until they are well again. So unless the Georgian gym plans to ban everyone with anuses from using the pool, banning menstruating women just propagates period-shaming and misinformation about menstrual hygiene.