SCUBA DIVING FOR WOMEN:
scuba diving have some unique issues that can lead
to uncertainty and questions.
Since I get quite a few female related dive questions, I decided
to devote a section to the special issues women may face while
diving. Below you will find the answers to the most common inquiries
I have received regarding a woman scuba diving.
Is it Safe to go Scuba Diving During Your
I am sorry to tell you, that "no"
- scuba diving is not recommended during your pregnancy.
The bottom line is that there really is no conclusive scientific
research that shows the harmful affects of scuba diving pregnant.
That, of course, is understandable since who would want to
participate in such a study?
Most of the evidence concerning diving and pregnancy is anecdotal
and show some conflicting results. There are generally 4 surveys
(where women dove while pregnant either inadvertently or for
some other reason) cited which occurred between 1978 and 1991.
no increase in miscarriages, abnormalities and some showed
an increase in abnormalities, etc.
Studies done with animals, sheep being one of the subjects
since the placenta is similar to humans, show a higher than
normal rate of fetal deaths.
The problem with diving while pregnant occurs with the fetus
since their blood is oxygenated with the placenta. The fetus
does not have the lungs to filter the nitrogen. If the mother
gets decompression illness and passes it onto her fetus, the
fetus does not have any way to expel any bubbles that may
form. This increases the likelihood that the bubbles can move
around and harm the fetus' vital organs, spine, brain, etc.
The bottom line is play it safe. Is it really worth the risk
(even if it is low)? I would definitely say no, it is not.
It is only for 9 months so it is not the end of the world.
You'll be back underwater soon. And on that point:
How Long do I Have to Wait to Dive
After Giving Birth?
|While you of course would have to check with
your doctor, there are some general guidelines for resuming
diving after giving birth. If you had a vaginal delivery, it
is recommended that you wait at least 4 weeks before resuming
If you had a cesarean delivery, it is advised that you wait
at least 8 weeks before you hit the water again.
Of course, these are only rough rules of thumb, it is different
for every women depending on the circumstances of her delivery
and health. Always check with your doctor before resuming diving.
Diving and Menstruation: Can You Dive While
Menstruating? And are Sharks Really Coming?
|First the question of diving while menstruating.
First, there really is no conclusive evidence to state that
women divers are at increased risk of DCI during their period.
However, some studies suggest that women may be at increased
risk during the first week of their cycle. These studies weren't
conducted on open water divers but rather within the aerospace
industry and for medical hyperbaric therapy.
Some studies also suggest, but do not prove, that women taking
oral contraceptives are at an increased risk for DCI.
So what is the conclusion? Divers Alert Network (DAN) advises
that menstruating women may want to dive more conservatively
- especially if they are taking oral contraceptives. This could
consist of longer safety stops, shallower dives, short dives
and/or fewer dives.
Personally, I have never altered my diving patterns during my
monthly cycle and have never had a problem. But everyone is
different and it wouldn't hurt to be a bit more conservative
during your menstrual period.
Sharks and Menstruation:
Diving and menstruation poses another area of concern for woman.
Many women are worried about shark attacks during menstruation.
That is, that sharks will be attracted by the scent of their
blood and put them at increased risk of attack.
First, rest assured, that there is no evidence that women are
at an increased risk for shark attacks if they are menstruating.
That is not to say that the sharks can't smell the menstrual
blood. They probably most certainly can. This is despite the
fact that the amount of blood is small and spread over several
days. Sharks have an extraordinary sense of smell. However,
according to DAN, many shark species are not attracted to this
type of blood.
Again, there is no conclusive evidence suggesting an increased
risk of sharks attacks during your period. However, even if
there were, it appears it would be very small. The risk of a
shark attack anyway is extremely small and does not appear to
increase significantly during your cycle. So I wouldn't worry
too much about it.
Personally, I have seen alot of sharks during my dives and have
had no problems with them, whether it was during my monthly
cycle or not. I wouldn't let this concern affect your diving
Scuba Diving and Breast Implants:
|Happily, the short and sweet answer is "yes -
you can dive with breast implants." Of course, this is after
you have recovered from the surgery and have gotten the go-ahead
from your doctor. While there has not been alot of scientific
research on the subject, one study was done in a hyperbaric
chamber at Duke University. Silicone, saline and silicone/saline
implants were placed in the chamber and subjected to various
depth and duration profiles. The result was that there was a
1-4% increase in bubble size which is considered to be insignificant.
The saline implants absorbed less nitrogen than the silicone
since nitrogen is more soluble in silicone than in saline. Any
gas bubbles which formed in the implants did not lead to any
rupture and eventually dissipated over time. The study did not
include any implants which were actually in a person.
Buoyancy and Other Considerations One thing you will have to
account for when scuba diving with breast implants is the issue
of buoyancy. If you have saline implants, they are neutrally
buoyant so it won't affect your weighting when you dive. However,
silicone implants are heavier than water so they will affect
your buoyancy when you dive. The bigger they are, the more your
buoyancy will be affected. Given this, you might want to do
a checkout dive when you first return to the water so you can
find the required amount of weight for your new figure. You
will also want to check out your wetsuit and BC to make sure
they will still fit properly without putting alot of pressure
on your chest.