DON’T avoid or postpone your upcoming trek plan because of Period woes:
Oftentimes, we have seen women undecided about their trekking plans if their period dates are coinciding. There are several myths such as, is it safe or hygienic enough to go on a trek during periods which leads women to step back from exploring should their menstrual cycle falls around their trek plans. So, we thought of clearing the clouds from your mind and help you understand that it is perfectly fine to go on trekking during periods as long as you keep a few things handy and maintain your hygiene. After all, don’t you all continue your day to day lives; go to work or college while you are on your period? Then why miss an opportunity to go to the mountains which you plan probably once in a year against something that comes back every month to bother you for a bit?
Let us try to clear some of the general misconceptions and offer you some guidance which hopefully will be able to assist you in planning your next worry free (if not period free) trek.
Will trekking heighten my period cramps?
Most unlikely.It is a misconception that the amount of physical exertion which is required during trek will heighten the cramps. In fact, hiking is a form of an exercise which possibly will provide more relief in lower back pain or stomach cramps in such times. Having said so, women who experience extreme levels of period cramps can look at deferring their trek plans. Women with moderate levels of pain can carry prescribed pain-relieving medications during their trip.
Things to carry while trekking during the period?
Carry sufficient number of sanitary napkins /tampons/menstrual cups – Cotton Tampons are light weight and take less space in your backpack as well. They are more effective than napkins when you are trekking during the rainy season or require crossing a stream or a river as these do not get wet.
Using menstrual cup is more convenient and environment friendly
These are washable and reusable and do not get wet as well. If you are already using period cups, then there is no need to worry about disposal. And if not an user and is planning to use it during trek, we suggest you start using it a couple of months in advance to get a hang of it.
Carry sufficient quantity of underwear/extra pant(s) for personal hygiene.
In case you are not accustomed to either tampons or menstrual cups, using sanitary napkins are equally fine. Similarly, extra pants will be your SOS in case of any unwanted stains. In case of stains while on the trail, just wrap your sweatshirt or a jacket around your waist and carry along!
Carry leak proof Zip-lock bags and line it with aluminium foils for disposal of used napkins or tampons.
It keeps the foul smell of the used napkins /tampons at bay. After changing your napkins/tampons you can place it in the aluminium tinted Zip-lock bags and keep it in a separate chamber of your backpack. Remember we cannot throw our used pads/tampons in the mountains where we will be camping in tents. Hence, we should carry it back until you reach the trek base or a lodge where solid waste management is in place and dump the waste in the dust bin.
In case you are using a menstrual cup, you may use the toilet tent (provided in a camping trek) to empty the cup into the hole and bury it with soil. Wash the cup with warm water which will be available at the campsite. Should you need to empty it on the trail, you can dig up a cathole preferably away from the trail or any water body and then bury it up with soil. You can use your drinking water to rinse the cup.
Ease of disposal on homestay treks
There are some treks such as Sandakphu or Valley of Flowers etc. where trekkers spend the nights in homestay or in lodges. In such cases, a proper bathroom facility is available for changing and disposal of the used pads/tampons.
Finally, a hand sanitiser and box of wet wipes are a must for personal health and hygiene.
It is OK to inform the organisers
Usually, the trek crew or the organisers will be men and they might not get it but please know today’s men are much aware of what is it and what women go through. We understand the challenges girls go through. So please don’t shy away & let us know if your trek dates are clashing with your period dates. That way we can inform the on-ground trek crew to be more empathetic towards your situation and help you in any way possible to make you comfortable.
Keep yourself frequently hydrated during period while on a trek
Water – Do drink sufficiently while trekking on period. It is anyway important to stay hydrated when in higher altitude to avoid any kind of sickness. But in case you are on period , water is your best ally to keep those cramps in check.
Carry ORS powders -We understand, period days can be hard on your health and makes one generally feel tired & fatigue. To get one going, we suggest carrying ORS, mix with water and keep drinking it along the trail to keep you energised.
Medications & Mood swings
In case you are one of those who love to not get bothered by period on your precious holidays, then the ideal thing to do is to take prescribed pills which helps in deferring your period date in case it is clashing with your trip dates. Usually doctor prescribed pills have negligible side effects and if taken a few days in advance before the possible date of period, it postpones the flow.
As for the oft talked about mood swings that comes along this time, trust us the fresh air of the mountains and the Himalaya has its own charm to keep the mood more at its best.
With all the necessary things in place, we think you are all suited up for your next meet up with the mountains. See you up there.