Why Trekking During Your Periods Is NOT A Bad Idea

Your trekking dates are coinciding with your periods. Does that make you uncomfortable? Should you even go? Read on to find answers to all questions that raised their crimson heads while you were packing your backpack. And, know why ‘those five days’ needn’t spoil your trek.

trekking during periods
Infographic by John Ravi

It is one of those days. Cramps. Mood swings. Anxiety. Bleeding. Oh, let’s not talk about it. Doesn’t matter if the idiot box blares with products that promise to keep you happy and dry all day long. Deep in your heart you know that they won’t. And you will have to keep checking for stain-freeness every now and then. Tedious, isn’t it?

The subject is periods. Menstruation. Chums. A reality that women deal with for five days of every month. Moreover, it’s for women only, making it feel like a taboo…even if it isn’t. And so care is taken to spend those five days as discreetly as possible. Hush, the men shouldn’t know.

But really, should you be so ashamed of something that’s natural? Er, no. Moreover, should you let this awkwardness and fear ruin your trek? Definitely not. And we strongly believe in that. So to make things easier, we bring forth questions related to this issue that have been buzzing in your minds for a while.

Should you cancel your trek?

No, really. “It’s a big myth that exertion makes your cramps worse during periods,” says Dr Madhumati Sanjay. Nivedita Siddharthan who recently trekked to Nag Tibba during her periods says, “I usually have very painful periods. But I realized that the more physically active I am, the lesser cramps I get.” So there’s even a teeny-weeny chance that long hikes and fresh mountain air will make you feel better. Give up on your trekk only if your cramps are usually unbearable and if you’ve experienced that physical exertion makes it worse. But all this should be sorted out with your gynaecologist first. Talk it out. Seek advice. Usually, it’s not as bad as it seems.

What next?

You’ve braved your apprehensions and now you’re on a trek. Maybe, you aren’t feeling your fit-as-a-fiddle self. And you have innumerable questions about the disposal of that thing aka used pad/tampon. You are not sure about hiking on boulders and dusty trails. And chances are that your trek leader is a man. You wouldn’t have shied away from raising your concerns about a stomach upset. But this, oh, this! For any woman who has battled this anxiety, read on.

Don’t be shy

Men don’t go through it. But that doesn’t mean they are clueless about it. Moreover, trek leaders have been informed and trained to deal with situations such as these. So if a doubt is niggling on your mind, speak up. Ask, and you shall receive a solution.

Dispose it right – SANITARY PADS ARE NON-BIODEGRADABLE

The pads are made up of non-biodegradable material. So when you’re on trek, ample care should be taken that the sanitary pads aren’t left around in nature. That’s because they will pollute and dirty the environment. “Always carry a ziplock around with you,” says trek leader Arjun Majumdar. The used pads should be kept in the ziplock and carried back to the nearest town where they can be properly disposed. Yes, the thought of carrying it around through the trek might invoke a squirm-your-nose reaction. But that’s not reason enough to leave it behind on trekking trails that have remained untouched by such pollutants.

Practice proper hygiene

Whether you like it or not, you are more prone to urinary tract infections during your periods. So practice proper hygiene. Carry enough sanitary pads with you and change at regular intervals to prevent proliferation of germs. Carry hand sanitizers, tissues and extra clothes in case of emergencies. Make sure your hygiene isn’t compromised under any circumstances.

Keep your dates in mind

“Change in the environment, altitude and physical activities could result in a shift in your dates,” Dr Madhumati cautions, “But that’s just a probability.” And it differs from woman to woman. So be prepared for emergencies and don’t forget to keep a track of your dates.

In the end, trash the myth that trekking during periods is a strict no-no. It’s not. With the right mind-set and preparation in place, trekking during periods is quite doable. Don’t you think so?

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Latika Payak

Latika Payak

Latika Payak has worked as a journalist with Femina, New Woman, BollywoodLife.com and wrote articles for the weekly editions of Times Of India Crest before growing allergic to full-time jobs. So she broke free from the glass-walled buildings and became the official story-teller of the trekking world.

18 thoughts on “Why Trekking During Your Periods Is NOT A Bad Idea

  1. What is the recommended way to dispose of use sanitary towels along the trek? I mean – after you have put them in the zip, lock! Just put them in a rubbish bin at your lodge or at a tea house? Or put them down a toilet?

    1. Hi Alison. We wouldn’t allow any of that – no putting them down toilets, no disposing of them in bins. On most Himalayan treks in India, there are no lodges or tea houses. You’re using toilet tents – which are basically cat holes. On a couple of treks, there are tea houses, but they don’t have waste management systems. The collected waste usually goes down a river or is hidden away behind rocks. So we insist that everyone take their own non-biodegradable waste back to their city and then dispose of them – not only sanitary waste, but anything such as wrappers, or plastic bags.

  2. Will I need to worry about sanitation during my period if I’m going to a place with dry toilets? Are tampons or pads preferable in such situations?

    1. Hi Vidhya, I’m glad you asked this question. Tampons are actually life savers on treks. They’re hygienic, small and make you feel so much cleaner than while using sanitary pads. Especially when you don’t have water in toilets, they’re a boon. I would highly recommend using them over pads.

      You can use regular tissues, with a little bit of water on them to clean up. Avoid using wet tissues. They’re usually scented and have chemicals in them. These don’t decompose for years together.

  3. Hi swathi – I would be going on a trek next month and I would probably get my periods then . I have never used tampons before so might not be a good idea to start on the trek for th first time ?

    1. Hi Divya, I suggest you carry ziplock with you. So that you can take the used sanitary napkin back with you.
      I don’t think tampon would be such a good idea if you are not used to it.

  4. if you are comfortable to use a tampon then consider instead a menstrual cup for zero waste – you will only need water for cleaning and reusuing

  5. Well, the diva cups are also recommended for all the avid trekkers and long time travelers . As they are eco friendly and hygienic .. Best part- it rules out the chance to pollute the environment also. I highly recommend the use of the same to all women travelers

    1. How do i dump the blood fro a diva cup ? do i need to dig a small pit and dump it in, i feel dumping it out in air might be a hygiene issue as well .

      1. Hi Sathya,
        If you need to empty the cup in between campsites, then dig a small pit, empty the cup and close the pit.
        If you are doing this at a campsite, then empty the cup in the normal toilet pit and cover it up with mud/cocopeat.

  6. I want to go on a monsoon trek tomorrow. But I just got my period. I am not sure about trekking tomorrow. I have worked out during my periods but never went to trek during periods and I use sanitary pads not tampons so I am not sure should I go to trek tomorrow or not?

    1. Hi Neha
      If you’ve survived a workout then I don’t think going on a trek should be a problem. Since its a monsoon trek I would say carry ziplock bags as mentioned in the article. Also make sure you carry lots of wet wipes and tissues to keep clean. If unbearable period cramps are not your problem then you absolutely should go on the trek!

  7. I am hiking to Everest base camp and my period will start in the middle of the trek. Should I worry that I will be bleeding excessively due to high altitude? Please advise

    1. Not really. Periods are usually not affected by high altitude, except they might occur a little earlier. This is because your body is exerting itself a lot. But the flow is usually not affected by high altitude. You needn’t worry. Use tampons or menstrual cups if you’re comfortable with them. They are much more hygienic, considering you won’t be having a bath for a long time.

  8. Hi.
    So I do a lot of treks while on my periods and don’t even think once before doing it.
    But this time I am taking up Everest base camp trek. And that’s the reason why i am having second thoughts .
    The oxygen level at that place is already very low . Can the blood loss make it worse for me?

    1. Hi Anisha,
      If you have trekked comfortably in the past while having your periods, the Everest Base Camp trek will not be a problem either 🙂
      The blood loss will not make a difference for acclimatising to the low oxygen level.

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