Women Scuba Diving
scuba diving have some unique issues that can lead to uncertainty
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.
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 iscarriages, 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 diving.
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.About shark attacks during
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.s
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 habits.
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.