It’s not always possible to avoid traveling when you’re on your period. You can’t control the date a friend or family member chooses for their destination wedding. Similarly, you may have no say about whether or not a family reunion happens while you’re menstruating. Finally, last-minute travel plans for a funeral or other unexpected event won’t wait until you’re done with “that time of the month.”
Whether you’re flying to the coast for a beachside wedding or taking a long road trip, period preparation is essential. Fortunately, there are some pretty ingenious products that can help you avoid embarrassing leakages and calm period pain. Here are a few helpful tips for staying comfortable and dry while traveling on your period.
Time Your Birth Control Pills Optimally
Many OB/GYNs agree that it’s safe to occasionally change how you take your birth control pills. Doing so can help you avoid bleeding while on vacation. Many birth control packets contain 21-24 active (hormone) pills and 4-7 placebo pills. Taking the sugar pills triggers your monthly period. If you’re scheduled to take your inactive pills during your vacation, simply skip them and begin your next pack of birth control pills right away.
Once you begin your new pack of birth control, continue taking all of the pills in your new pack. When you take the placebo pills (once you’re back from vacation), your period should return. To delay your period with continuous birth control, make sure you bring enough active pills with you on your trip.
Try Out a Menstrual Cup
A menstrual cup is a reusable period product often made of medical-grade materials like silicone, rubber, or latex. It’s shaped like a small, flexible bell or funnel, and it’s inserted into the vagina to collect menstrual blood. Unlike traditional period products that absorb blood, menstrual cups just collect it, making them a sustainable and cost-effective option. They can also be worn for 12 hours, depending on your flow, which is great for traveling since it reduces the need for frequent restroom visits.
Menstrual cups are also compact and lightweight, taking up less room in your suitcase. Make sure you sterilize it beforehand, so it’s ready to go when you need it. Keep it in a small, clean bag or container so it doesn’t get dirty during your travels. It can be messy to empty out your cup after use. To deal with spills, make it a habit to keep single-use wet wipes in your purse or pocket.
Use a Menstrual Disc
Menstrual discs are flat devices that are typically made from silicone or plastic. They are similar to menstrual cups in the way they collect blood. But many people prefer discs to cups because they’re not as bulky and therefore don’t cause as much discomfort. They sit above the vaginal canal, right below the cervix in a spot called the vaginal fornix. Cups, on the other hand, stay in the vaginal canal where they suction in place.
If you have a heavy flow, a menstrual disc may be the best option to prevent leaks while traveling. It can often hold more liquid than a standard menstrual cup, which means you can go longer without emptying it. Many people can go 12 hours before changing their menstrual disc. Keep in mind that because discs collect blood rather than absorbing it, there’s a greater potential for spillage when removing it. Keep wet wipes on hand to deal with any messes.
Wear Period Underwear
If you hate the hassle of dealing with pads and tampons while traveling, try period underwear. They’re designed to fit like regular underwear but are made from highly absorbent fabric. The fabric is a type of microfiber polyester fabric that soaks up menstrual blood. Period underwear typically comes in various absorbency options so you can choose the best option based on your flow.
You might think it sounds unpleasant to sit in your own moisture while wearing period underwear. However, the absorbent threads in the underwear help keep moisture away from your skin while preventing leaks. It’s not like wearing a pad that holds moisture next to your body and can be quite uncomfortable.
Pack Heat Patches and Painkillers
Bleeding may not be the only thing you worry about when traveling while on your period. If you typically have painful periods, cramps can make your vacation much less enjoyable. To prepare for this possibility, pack heat patches and painkillers in your luggage. You should be able to find single-use menstrual heating pads at your local pharmacy. These are often air-activated and can provide pain relief for up to eight hours.
Don’t forget to pack your preferred painkillers for menstrual pain relief. However, if you’re traveling to another country, check local regulations to make sure you don’t bring anything that’s not allowed. To avoid unintentional delays at airport checkpoints, keep medications in their original packages. If you can’t bring your preferred medication into another country, you should be able to find suitable alternatives while you’re there.
Traveling while bleeding is never ideal. However, there are many different products that can help you stay comfortable no matter where you’re headed. Test out some of these products from the comfort of your home so you know which to bring with you on your next vacation.