Those annoying monthly menstrual periods can be highly inconvenient when camping and hiking, but don’t let them keep you from having fun outdoors. Hence, the question, can you go hiking during your period? There are measures to manage this natural and healthy life stage, even if it might be a bit more complicated in the wilderness.
The reality is that it’s quite similar to hiking while pregnant. With the proper preparations and tips, you can handle your period as smoothly while hiking as you would at work or school.
Keep reading as we provide you with the essential tips for hiking during your period and other important things you need to know.
Can You Go Hiking On Your Period?
In a nutshell, yes! First off, light to moderate exercise such as hiking can help relieve cramps and improve your attitude and self-esteem – which is always a bonus during that time of the month.
Hiking is also a great opportunity to get some fresh air and connect with nature, which can help improve your mood.
Finding the motivation to get off the sofa and out of those warm jammies is the most challenging part of hiking on your period. Get your backpack ready the night before, fill your water bottles, prepare your favorite snacks, and lay out a few hiking dresses or outfits that make you feel good.
If you have excruciating pain or cramps during your period, consult your OBGYN or healthcare practitioner about any underlying health concerns, such as hormone imbalance or anything that could be aggravating your period symptoms. If you have any existing health issues, consult with your doctor about which activities, including hiking, are safe and convenient.
Aside from that, it is entirely safe to go hiking and camping during your period. However, there are a few things you need to take into consideration, such as your flow, pain level, and personal hygiene. Let’s explore these factors further.
What Do You Do With A Tampon While Backpacking?
Tampons and pads are still the most common sanitary products; if you’re using them, you’ll need to keep your waste with you till you can safely dispose of them. If you aren’t familiar already, get acquainted with the Leave No Trace rule.
Even if your products are entirely biodegradable (which they usually aren’t), you shouldn’t keep them out or bury them since animals can dig them up. So, it is always ideal to keep a trash bag handy. Small nylons, disposable lunch packs, or even plastic zip bags can serve well.
Lining the bag’s interior with a foil could suffice for added safety and privacy. Likewise, wrap your used toiletries in tissue paper or aluminum foil and place them in the trash bag until you get to an appropriate garbage bin.
What Animals Can Smell Period Blood?
Animals happen to be reflexive responders to the pheromones in human blood, especially dogs. Other animals that can smell blood include bears and coyotes. These animals have a much sharper sense of smell than dogs, so they can easily detect the scent of blood from a distance. However, do they really know if you’re menstruating? And will it affect wildlife?
Dog and cat owners understand that those furry creatures have a knack for “sensing” when you’re upset, happy, or anything else. Like it or not, most animals can tell when you’re on your period, owing to their sensory organs.
But according to Vice (who interviewed several vets), the real danger from animals while menstruating is an iguana. Several male iguanas have been known to attack their menstruating owners. Dr. William Rodgers, a North Carolina veterinarian, also adds that the smell of human menstruation is pretty close to the scent of an adult female iguana around mating season. So avoid cuddling iguanas next time you’re putting on a tampon or pad.
Does Period Blood Attract Bears Or Other Animals?
There has been much debate on whether or not bears are drawn to menstrual blood. However, numerous studies have concluded that it is a popular misconception, and bears or other animals will not try to track you down if you are on your period. If you’re still concerned about this or having a smell in general, menstruation cups are your most unscented alternative.
However, when it comes to polar bears, the story is a bit different. Studies have shown that these bears are attracted to the smell of human blood and will investigate tents, people, and equipment that contain it. While there have been no reports of polar bears attacking people because of their period, it’s still best to be cautious if you’re planning to hike or camp in polar bear territory.
A study by The University of Montana discovered that only seal scents and menstrual odors (used tampons) incited a substantial behavioral response when polar bears were exposed to different odors. They smelled and consumed food, fragrance samples, and tampons but neglected non-menstrual human blood and unused tampons. This implies that polar bears are sensitive to menstrual blood odors.
As previously stated, your used tampons and pads will undoubtedly smell. However, animals are unlikely to stalk you or ingest your pads. They may be intrigued by them and rip through your kit to find out what it is. Always contain your garbage and avoid burying it where animals can spot it.
Eight Tips To Go Hiking Safely For Menstruating Women
Even the most ambitious girl could be put off by the prospect of dealing with her period while hiking or camping. Nonetheless, if you’ve opted to go hiking and backpacking on your period, there are some things you can do to make it a lot easier and more fun.
Here are eight great hiking and camping tips while you’re on your period.
Monitor Your Menstrual Flow
The first thing you need to think about is how heavy your menstrual flow is. If you have a light or moderate flow, you can go about your hike as usual. However, if you have a heavy flow, you’ll need to take some extra precautions. You’ll want to wear a menstrual cup or pad with wings to prevent leaks. You should also bring along extras in case you need to change them during your hike.
Your Hiking Route
You’ll also need to consider the terrain of your hiking route. If you’re hiking on a challenging trail, you may want to wait until your period is over. A difficult hike can be challenging enough without worrying about leaks or discomfort. However, if you’re confident in your ability to hike with a heavy flow, then go for it!
Your Hiking Partners
You may not want to hike with a large group of people when you’re on your period. If you’re hiking with friends or family, make sure they are aware of your situation and are comfortable with it. It’s also important to find out if they are okay with you taking breaks to change your menstrual products.
Carry Reusable Menstrual Cups and Tampons Over Sanitary Pads
Tampons and reusable menstrual cups are preferable over pads. They are more convenient, portable, and less messy than pads. Unscented tampons are ideal. While your period may not lure bears, scented products might.
Carry Unscented Wipes And Hand Sanitizer
Unscented wipes come in handy in warm weather without any means to wash. They are every woman’s best friend in this sort of situation. Carry unscented wipes and hand sanitizer in your kit to clean up quickly when necessary.
Pain Relievers Should Be Included In Your First-Aid Kit
If you usually take pain relievers or other medications to deal with discomfort and cramping, a hiking trip is not the time to skip them. Although many first aid kits include some sort of pain reliever, you should have a standby of your preferred medication.
Choose The Right Clothes
Wearing the right clothes is crucial to a comfortable hike, whether you’re on your period or not. However, there are some additional factors to consider when choosing your hiking attire while on your period. First of all, you’ll want to choose dark-colored clothing. This will help to camouflage any leaks. You’ll also want to make sure your clothing is comfortable and breathable. Synthetic fabrics are often a good choice for this.
Leave No Trace
Lastly, practicing Leave No Trace principles when hiking and camping on your period is essential. This means packing out all of your trash, including used tampons and pads.
Hiking on your period seems challenging and inconvenient. But knowledge is bliss. With the awareness of what to bring, what to wear, and how to act, you can make your hiking experience much more comfortable.
And don’t forget the most important rule: always be prepared.
Have fun, be safe, and enjoy the wilderness!