It appears that from the
best information and experience
that it is as safe for women to dive as it is for men, using the diving
safety guidelines which are standard for all national certifying
and the federal government. Dr. Caroline Fife, after considering all
experimental and survey data, had the following comments to make at a
given in 1993.
Normal, healthy females
are at no greater risk for diving
DCS than their male counterparts.
Menstruating women are at
no greater risk for diving DCS
than non-menstruating women. (This may not be true for altitude or
There is no conclusive
data linking human birth defects to
The human fetus may be at
greater risk of injury than the
diving mother. The potential risk primarily consists of DCS, but
and CO2 retention may also be problems.
There is insufficient
experimental evidence to establish
safe depth and time profiles for the pregnant woman.
Pregnant women who choose
to dive should be informed that
potential fetal risk probably increases as the no-decompression limits
are approached, and as pregnancy progresses.
Women who discover they
are pregnant after performing multiday
or deep diving should not be counselrd to terminate their pregnancy.
odds are still in their favor.
Until further data are
available, women who know that they
are pregnant should not dive, just as they are advised against alcohol
intake, radiation exposure, smoking and other environmental factors
may increase the risk of fetal injury.
There is no evidence that tampons or any other
objects are in any way dangerous from the effects of increased
Not being a closed space, it does not suffer the effects of Boyle's Law.
Maida Taylor, MD, MPh
has the following comments about
women and diving:
Technically the pelvis is most vulnerable to infection
peri-menstrually, but there appears to be no correlation with bathing
infection, There is a correlation with douching, but that is
introduced into the vagina under pressure dependent on the gradient
by the height of the douching bag.
Diving and Menstruation
Sharks are not an issue --
no evidence of increased attacks
on menstruating female divers. Heavy flow and menorrhagia may be
than light flow. This may be an increasing concern as the female diving
population ages. Most women with very heavy flow probably would skip
on those days. Issues of hygiene, privacy and convenience.
If the flow is very heavy with superimposed anemia, chronic or acute,
would limit potential O2 delivery, and impair circulatory dynamics.
There is some suggestion
from aerospace literature and
from dry chamber dives for medical hyperbaric therapy that women may be
at increased risk for DCS during the first week of their cycle… that is
during the menstrual week. This phenomenon has not been
in open water divers. It might however suggest that due to
in hormones, electrolytes, vasomotor reactivity and peripheral
and other unknown variables, women might handle a gas load
during the menstrual phase of their cycles. One might caution women who
dive while menstruating to dive more conservatively …jumping tables,
shallower dives, and prolonging safety stops.
Three papers now suggest
that there is an increase in
incidence of DCS during menstruation:
Rudge, aerospace DCS
DCS, 100% DCS cases were menstruating,
only 32% non cases menstruating
Trainees, 81 females in 11 years, 62 pain
18 neurologic , more
days from LMP, fewer cases
Dunford, chamber inside
attendants but not scuba divers (report
by questionnaire with extremely small numbers)
Recent study of 956
divers - of DCS cases 38% menstruating,
but 85% were on OC (oral contraceptives)
ST LEGER DOWSE M, BRYSON
P, GUNBYP, FIFE W: Scuba diving
and the Menstrual cycle: retrospective data from a follow on
study of diving women UHMS Mexico 1997 Abstract at Ann Scient Meeting
of women dive while menstruating, 71% have symptoms of
and 34-48% perceive some decrement in performance due to
Will publish data on effects and relation to DCS of prospective study
2000 or 2001.