I don’t know how you other travelling ladies out there feel about your period, but when you are travelling around it can be a bit of a pain in all senses of the word. This is a slightly TMI (too much information) story about me going scuba diving in Manado and having my period come a little bit unexpectedly 2 days into the trip. More crucially, this happened on a day before I knew I was going to be spending an entire day out on a tiny boat mostly filled with men and no toilets or privacy.
It’s alright if your flow is light, but my first days are pretty heavy and I knew I needed to make at least one change or I’d end up looking like I got shot in the crotch. Not a good look when you are going to be spending half your time in a bikini or boardshorts!
I was lucky my period didn’t happen on the actual day itself so I was able to come up with a solution – thankfully most of the dive sites we stopped at were quite remote so there were hardly any other boats around us when we stopped for lunch at mid day. I picked a strategic time when everyone was busy eating, found a quiet spot on the roof of the small boat away from everyone. Armed with a plastic bag and a new tampon and a large beach towel to protect my modesty, that was probably the fastest I’d ever changed my tampon ever. TMI? Hey, you do what you gotta do!
That incident made me look for alternative solutions to your traditional pads (useless in the water) and tampons (great but they soak up water extra quickly so you need to change when your flow is heavy). The only time you really need to be worried about is when you’re not in the water – the water pressure while you’re swimming or diving prevents any untoward flow. However, you do have to surface at some point, and that’s when you need to ensure you’re properly covered.
Many women keep a close eye on their cycles and prefer not to swim or take part in any water sports during this period (heh, pun intended). Others regulate their cycles by taking the pill so it doesn’t happen while travelling. It’s honestly not the most practical thing to plan your life around your period, so I just grin and bear it.
These days I’m a big fan of using menstrual cups, mostly because they don’t absorb water so you don’t have to change them as quickly as you need to with tampons. It’s not completely leak proof though if your flow is heavy, but it does buy you a bit more time as compared to tampons. Also, you’re not going to be able to do a quick change like I did with a menstrual cup which you can’t just pop in and out (also remember you need to be able to empty it before you put it back in!).
But really, the world doesn’t come to a standstill when your period comes unexpectedly!