Has it ever happened to you that you’ve been eagerly looking forward to a trip, that you’ve been planning for ages, that you have all your clothes decided and sorted and the one thing that you have been dreading for the last 3 weeks(or 4, depending on your cycle) happens...Story of our lives. For most of our lives, getting your period has just been something that is completely natural, yet rarely talked about. And even though it’s always at the back of our minds, a tingling apprehension, a hope that it doesn’t have an untimely start, it’s just something we never end up discussing.
So this article is dedicated to all the women (of course, men can read and empathize!) in the attempt that I may answer some of the inhibitions that you may have, about going for a trek during your periods.
Stress & cramps
When I was younger and I had cramps, I used to be told it’s ‘all in the mind’, ‘the more you concentrate on the cramps, the more they’ll bother you’. While biologically, cramps during the cycle are actually caused and aggravated due to various reasons, across the years the latter has proven true time and again.
Typically it has been my observation, that cramps they tend to be much lesser in intensity, when we are more active. While this of course, may be different for different women. But by my sheer experience I can tell you, that the trekking trip happened to be one of my most peaceful and painless cycles! Whether logical or coincidental, hard to tell! I had, of course, our good friend ‘meftalspas’ (painkiller) as a backup, but I didn’t really need to take it.
Added to that, good hydration at regular intervals, Glucose to boost up the energy levels when needed and proper wholesome meals ensured the ‘fatigue’ which one would normally feel during such a time, didn’t get the better of me!
Change and throw
One of the biggest apprehensions about venturing into a trek without proper washroom facility is the need for changing your pads at regular intervals. As if, unlike men, not being able to answer nature’s call, whenever and wherever you wanted was not bad enough! It might be surprising that even with the Indian society’s unwillingness to talk about periods and the problems associated with it, most trek organisers turn out to be quite mature and understanding. Besides, a candid conversation never hurt anyone!
You can clearly speak out your apprehensions before the trek. In most cases, you will find that some arrangements can be made, be it toilet tents or planned itinerary (to ensure frequent stops for wash-rooms). If sensitized, you can be assured that the trek organisers will put in all the efforts, to ensure that something as manageable as periods does not inhibit the inspired trekker in you!
Once dealt with changing, the next and most obvious question is disposal of used pads or tampons. This becomes a problem for women, let alone in the mountains, even when they are in unfamiliar places – where and how does one dispose it of? Needless to say, this would be an important question, especially on a trek because of the non-biodegradable nature of most pads and tampons. The best way, recommended by many woman travellers, would be to carry a zip-lock pouch to keep the used pads, till you find a proper place to dispose (non-bio-degradable friendly waste bin), during or once back from trek.
If you keep a track of how regularly you need to change, you can ensure that you can have a stain-free cycle, even up in the mountains. Keeping a sanitizer handy is always a good idea to ensure hygiene and cleanliness during the trek.
Why take so much of pain?
The most importantly question of course is, if we need to do so much to prepare, take so many precautionary measures to go for a trek, during periods, then why go through the pain? Especially when all you can think of is your comfortable bed, some hot tea and plenty of pampering, why would you really want to leave all that to go for a trekking trip? And quite rightly put- It doesn’t sound like the ideal thing to do.
But the question actually is, would you cancel your trek, for which all your friends are going, something you’ve been planning and looking forward to, for almost a month, or which is the first of its kind experience for you, just because you got ‘down’? I agree that there are times that periods have gotten the better of us and for some of us, the pain is unbearable. However, most women can handle cramps – our bodies are made that way. We got through school, college & office life with it. We gave exams on it, we took part in sports events, dance classes with it, we flawlessly executed the most stressful event at work with it. So, if you think that you can manage with the cramps – then you should not worry about the rest. Reach out to people, and tell them you want to take rest breaks. They will understand. Plan. Try. Test. But take the leap, because it is worth it and a period shouldn’t stop you from reaching the top of that mountain and screaming your lungs out- ‘That you finally made it’!
To conclude... while I can’t really decide for you and it’s completely your call to take. I just hope that this will help you reach one step closer towards taking that call. As for me, would I cancel a trip for this? No. Certainly wouldn’t- actually I didn’t! And trust me it wasn’t half as bad!