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Backpacking and Bleeding: Managing Your Menstrual Cycle in the Backcountry

Embarking on a backpacking adventure can be an exhilarating experience, connecting you with nature in profound ways. However, for those who menstruate, navigating the wilderness while on your period can present unique challenges. From dealing with hygiene to managing discomfort, here are some tips for handling your menstrual cycle in the backcountry.

Plan Ahead!

  1. Know Your Cycle: Understanding your menstrual cycle and predicting when your period might occur can help you plan your backpacking trips accordingly. Apps like Clue or Period Tracker can be valuable tools for tracking your cycle.

  2. Pack Essentials: Make sure to pack an ample supply of menstrual products, such as tampons, pads, or menstrual cups, based on your personal preference. Consider bringing a few extra, just in case. Also: baking soda, a plastic baggie, and some toilet paper can go a long way. When you discard your used products in the bag of baking soda, it helps neutralize the odors. This is important here in bear country Montana because they like all smells.

  3. Choose the Right Products: Opt for products that are compact, lightweight, and easy to dispose of or clean. Menstrual cups, for example, are reusable and environmentally friendly, making them ideal for extended trips.

Practice Good Hygiene

  1. Hand Sanitization: Before and after handling menstrual products, wash your hands thoroughly with biodegradable soap or use hand sanitizer to prevent the spread of bacteria.

  2. Proper Disposal: Pack out used menstrual products in sealed bags to adhere to Leave No Trace principles. Never bury or burn them, as they can attract wildlife and harm the environment.

  3. Stay Clean: Bring biodegradable wipes or a small travel-sized bottle of water for cleaning yourself during your period. Keeping clean can help prevent infections and maintain your comfort.

Manage Discomfort

  1. Pain Relief: Consider bringing pain relief medication, such as ibuprofen, to alleviate menstrual cramps or headaches. Natural remedies like heat packs or herbal teas may also provide relief.

  2. Stay Hydrated: Drinking plenty of water is essential for overall health, especially during menstruation. Proper hydration can help reduce bloating and ease menstrual symptoms.

  3. Practice Self-Care: Take breaks when needed and listen to your body. Engage in activities that help you relax and unwind, whether it's journaling, meditating, or simply enjoying the beauty of nature.

Embrace the Experience

  1. Normalize the Conversation: Don't be afraid to talk openly about menstruation with your hiking partners. Chances are, they've dealt with similar situations and can offer support and solidarity.

  2. Adapt and Overcome: Be prepared for unexpected challenges, such as heavier flow or unpredictable weather. Stay flexible and adaptable, and don't let your period hinder your enjoyment of the journey.

  3. Celebrate Your Strength: Remember that menstruating in the backcountry is a testament to your resilience and adaptability as a backpacker. Embrace the experience as part of your wilderness journey.

By planning ahead, practicing good hygiene, managing discomfort, and embracing the experience, you can effectively manage your menstrual cycle while backpacking in the Flathead National Forest. With the right preparation and mindset, your period doesn't have to hold you back from exploring the great outdoors. Happy trails!

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