To Trek or not to Trek: A Menstruation Story

Lets admit it. Many of us have a karmic relationship with our period.

It’s like that Murphy’s Law that surfaces when you were least expecting, but you had that nagging feeling at the back of your head; an ominous voice that said, “It’s going to happen.”

How many momentous occasions have been ruined by the appearance of the red stain on the panty when it is most abhorred – a night before your fairytale wedding, on the day you’ve decided to wear a white trouser or pant to a party or to work, moments before you hit the sandy coast in your bikini, or gear up to climb the mountain you’ve been training to scale.

Yes! Period, a woman’s life long companion (for who else appears every single month, like a steadfast friend, whether you want it to or not) is also one that causes her most heartache when it appears at inopportune times.

Until a few years ago, the simplest, easiest and what was touted to be an efficient method of postponing the inevitable, by popping a pill, was also considered the safest. Eventually, when science proved that committing this atrocity to the hormones in our bodies was causing us way more harm than delaying a first sexual encounter would, it left many in the lurch.

Now we are stuck. Delaying a period seems to be very extreme, and is often rebuked by doctors.

Is it sensible or even practical to then, avoid that trip, postpone that event, just for the period?

I am a trekking enthusiast who also conducts hikes and treks across Himachal and Bhutan. Inevitably, in my groups, someone does get their period (that Murphy’s Law in motion) – unannounced and before time – just as we are gearing up for the hike we’ve been waiting for.

Left with no choice, we deal with them, as we must, all the good and bad things that happen to us as women. We begin the cycle – carrying pads (check), meds for cramps (check), slow down the pace of climbing (check). But there is nothing we can do to alleviate the discomfort.

Contrary to what popular sanitary napkin ads promulgate, lets face it, undertaking a sporting activity with a pad tucked between your legs is disgusting, especially in a country where finding a toilet to replace a blood soaked towel is next to impossible. Personally, I am a tampon user, and I know that in a country where men are still ‘hymen obsessed’, most unmarried girls don’t use them. Bulky pads are their only option.

Girls often write in to me and ask – “What will happen if I got my period during the trek?” They fear that they would ‘enjoy’ less if ‘it comes’. Worse still, they’re mostly all concerned about the stains. Somehow, girls are more anxious about the appearance of a stain on clothes than the pain of the abdominal and breast cramps and the discomfort associated with expelling a mugful of foul smelling blood.

I often reply – “We’ll handle the period. And don’t worry about the stains. Periods are a biological process and the stains are not the end of the world.”

Most of them unconvinced, give the trip a skip just because of the period.

I found myself in a similar conundrum in September 2016 when I was getting ready to go on a trek in Bhutan. I’d just wrapped up my recent period and suddenly realised that I was going to be on a 5 day trek, in the absolute wilderness, with a male contingent (I was going to be the only female in the group) and my period was scheduled to start on the day of the trek.

I knew that I wouldn’t have the resources to change tampons (I’d been on this trek before), and would have to wear the bulky pads while climbing 4-6 hours a day, up to an altitude of 4100 metres. I would also be disposing these pads into the common garbage which we’d be carrying in our luggage only to be disposed off at the end of the trek.

The thought itself was daunting since I suffer from terrible cramps, but I had only two choices, to trek or not to trek… (I was accompanying a guest on this trek and there was no chance of postponing it. So my choices were confined to whether I accompany him or not).

14444651_10209255253232041_7301011995323759087_o
On the last day of the Druk Path trek

I chose to trek.

In a happy ending, fortunately someone heard my prayers and I didn’t get my period until I was back in India. My period was five days late, something that hadn’t happened to me in a long time. I guess my trepidation and anxiety caused the delay.

What do you think?

This post first appeared in Fashion101.in

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s