Friday, February 29, 2008

Menstruation while backpacking: Not a problem

The snow is melting exposing dormant grasses. Trees are beginning to bud, flowers open their petals like sleeping children, and the squirrels are actively teasing my dogs again. These are all signs that spring is knocking at my door. Every morning I awake thinking and planning my next backpacking trip. While sharing my past adventures with friends, a couple questions continually arise, "What do you do when you're on your period?" and "Won't bears be attracted to the smell of blood?" While I know my preferred method, I decided to do some asking around. This was a much more common question than I thought, as I found it in multiple forums and bulletin boards. The best general consensus for dealing with your monthly visitor, and the one I agree with is:
  • Use tampons over sanitary napkins
  • Use unscented accessories
  • Pack it in, pack it out, freezer zip-loc bags and double up the bag
  • Hoist with all other food/garbage that you want to keep away from critters
  • Sanitizing hand gel, it's very important to keep as clean as possible while dealing with sensitive areas
That's it, it really is this simple!

You shouldn't bury the used accessories because animals could smell the blood and try to dig them up. Some burn their tampons. If this is something you decide to do remember that a very hot fire is needed, and a good bit of time to completely destroy them. You'll need to pack out the remains.

In the case of the myth that bears will be drawn to menstruating women, I have found this to be MYTH.

Several studies have been done and the results show that bears are NOT attracted to menstruating women any more than another person. For more information please visit

My fellow adventurous women, please go into the wild with ease knowing that our monthly friend does not have to put a damper on anything that we love to do. All we need is to be prepared for the journey.


Liz said...

Thanks, very helpful! : )

Anonymous said...

thank you!!! I've always got lucky... but this weekend no so much. I feel better now thanks for the advice!

Hanna said...

It might be worthwile to mention the existence of menstrual cups here. I've found mine to be much, much cleaner and hassle-free when I'm far from civilization.

Soker Grrl said...

Hanna, you're right, many women prefer the use of menstrual cups while being so far from civilization. There are a variety to choose from. Thanks for the additional tip!

In peace, Soker Grrl

Maren Casey said...

I'd like to weigh in as an experienced menstrual cup user and camper. They are the absolute best. NO garbage to worry about, just give it a good rinse in a stream once in a while and you're good to go. Get the reuseable of course. Lots of info at

dtb said...

While my friends adore them, I have had pretty lousy success with cups, as I have with nuvaring...I think I have a non-factory spec cervix. Thanks for this post! I will follow your advice this weekend!

Maren Casey said...

You're right, dtb, the cups can be a challenge. Would you believe it took me more than TWO YEARS before I could use one reliably without leaks? And if I hadn't found I probably would never have learned (amazing tips).

I have a weird cervix too, couldn't use nuevo ring or a diaphragm. I wear the Divacup, worn low in the canal, the Keeper and Mooncup are similar.

It was worth the trouble it took to learn, at least for me. I would hate to pack tampons in and out...

Amy said...

Wow, this is like a year after the fact, but I am just researching this now. For those who use the cup, where do you empty it? I am willing to pack in and pack out, but was thinking the cup would be so much less hassle. Especially with a dh who has a phobia of bodily fluids. Thanks for your post and any info that is passed on!

Genevieve said...

Great post! Just about to go off on the AT and my monthly friend is here to visit!