Alright, Hiking Lady, it’s a ‘personal’ question but a must-know. How do you deal with those pesky monthly menstrual periods when on multi-day snow trips? Any ideas for a novice to the mountains? I’ve done plenty of backpacking but am new to the mountaineering scene and would love advice from fellow ladies. Thanks!
ANSWER: Hiking on Your Period
Hello fellow female hiker!
Those pesky monthly menstrual cycles can be quite an annoyance when backpacking and mountaineering, but don’t let it stop you from enjoying your outdoor adventures! There are plenty of options to deal with hiking on your period, from tampons to Diva Cups and Sckoon Cups! Read on!
Just like when you’re backpacking or hiking, find a private spot so you can change your stuff. It can get awfully cold in the mountains in the winter, so try to be quick.
My tips from lots of personal experience:
- Bring lots of unscented wet wipes.
- Tampons are smaller and less messy than pads. Be sure to use unscented tampons in bear country.
- Bring lots of ziplocs and stay organized. I pack all of the unused feminine hygene in one ziploc bag, and used ones and toilet paper in smaller ziplocs, which I then consolidate into one larger Ziploc “trash bag” – I find the freezer kind are best. They’re the thickest and are least likely to tear open.
- Pack carefully. Your sanitary supplies will take up space in your pack, so you may have to sacrifice some space that you normally allocate to something else. Be sure to pack carefully and allow enough room for your “trash bag”. If you can, keep the trash away from your food while you hike.
- If in bear country, use a bear canister. This is where the layers of ziplocs come in handy – you surely don’t want your “trash” that close to your food, but remember that these are “scented” items and you don’t want to attract bears. I squish the “trash” bag to the bottom of my bear canister. If you’re doing winter travel while bears are in hibernation, you don’t need to worry about this.
- Stay hydrated. Being in the mountains will already require extra water, but this time of month you’ll want to be sure to be even more hydrated!
Special tips if you’re in bear country:
There is a lot of debate as to whether or not bears are attracted to menstrual blood, and I researched this fully before ever backpacking while on my period. To be extra safe, if you’re in bear country, use unscented items and use a tampons or a menstrual cup instead of external pads.
An Environmentally Friendly Way to Avoid Tampons & Pads!
- What are they? Internal menstrual cups have been around since the 1930s (the designs are more modern now!) and completely eliminate the need for tampons and pads. It makes hiking on your period a bit more comfortable and less messy than dealing with pads and tampons. They are made of silicone and have a small stem and a large cup with holes around the rim.
- How do you use a menstrual cup? It’s simple once you do it a few times.
- Pick your size Diva Cup (they come in Pre-Childbirth and Post Childbirth) or Sckoon Cup (Size 1 or Size 2).
- Wash it with unscented soap and water.
- Insert it in your vagina. A trick is to fold it in half, insert it, then twist it to make sure it is inserted securely. This is up to personal preference and comfort.
- Remove it by pulling slightly; it releases the suction created inside.
- Ideally, wash with warm soap and water. If you are backpacking, dig a “cat hole” to bury the menstrual blood when you rinse it out. It takes getting used to, so bring handwipes to clean yourself too!
- Note: You can insert the menstrual cup before your period begins, and you don’t have to worry about any bloody surprises nor worry about TSS as you do with tampons.
Hope that answers your question! Happy trails!
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