How to hike on your period: How the coil saved my hiking life

how to hike on your period

Heading out on a hiking adventure is always exciting, but heading out whilst on your period… not so exciting.

It was a sunny day on the Jurassic Coast, and my trail had taken me inland to avoid the army firing range. This trail was beautiful, with bluebells in full bloom and sunlight breaking through through the forest leaves, but I was fuming. I had already emptied my moon cup that morning, and I was feeling that it needed to be emptied again just an hour later. Crippling period pain ripped through me, and every step felt like ten as I fought off hot flushes by throwing water in my face.

I was beside a road but I had no option but to squat beneath a road bridge and faff around to empty and wash the moon cup…It was a nightmare.

The hike was easy going compared with the cliffs of the coastline, but it felt like Everest as my period sapped the life from me. I stopped again and again to empty my moon cup, which is designed to last the day, and repeatedly threw down my bag to collapse on in frustration.

How is it possible that women must suffer this monthly for half of their lives?!” I questioned. 

Feeling defeated by my period...And sun burn!

When I told a friend this story, she suggested the coil, but I was wary of this incase it would harm my chances of having children in the future. She let me know that it has no lasting effect if removed, and she was a Doctor, so I figured I would look into it.

This was in 2021, and I’ve had the coil fitted ever since, which has saved my active lifestyle. It should be known that my periods were severe. The pain was so awful that it incapacitated me, and my flow was so heavy that it was like the weeks worth would come in the first two days.

Since I’ve had the coil I barely feel pain, and the only indicator that my period is taking place is when I feel annoyed at everything around me. I’ve not needed to wear any menstrual products for two years, and I don’t need to plan my hikes around my period. In essence it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, but the initial few months were brutal, with random cramping and spotting. It’s also very painful to get fitted, which I didn’t expect, and the women at the clinic were quite shocked that I had come in alone for the procedure.

So what is the coil?

The coil prevents pregnancy by releasing either hormones or a very small amount of copper into the female reproductive system. People who have a hormonal coil may experience lighter menstrual bleeding and fewer periods. Of course, like anything, there are some risks attached, such as the coil causing infection in the first few weeks or damaging the womb.

It’s probably worth nothing that having a coil fitted to go hiking is a drastic measure, and probably one I wouldn’t have taken if my periods weren’t harming not only my active lifestyle but also work and social life too.

how to hike on your period

How to hike on your period - Top tips

If you are getting into hiking and want to know some hacks to prevent your period from ruining your adventures, then here are some handy tips..

Plan Ahead

Check your menstrual calendar before planning your hiking trip. Knowing when to expect your period allows you to prepare accordingly and pack the necessary supplies, or choose another date.

Pack the Right Products

Opt for menstrual products that are suitable for extended wear and provide reliable protection. Consider using menstrual cups, which are eco-friendly, comfortable, and can be worn for up to 12 hours, making them ideal for hiking. If you are as heavy as I was then I would recommend tampons, as cleaning a cup can be messy if you need to empty mid hike.

Pack Enough!

Pack enough menstrual products to last the duration of your hike, plus a few extras, just in case. Store them in waterproof pouches or ziplock bags to keep them dry and easily accessible. 

Stay Hydrated

Drinking plenty of water is essential, especially while hiking. Staying hydrated can help alleviate bloating and reduce menstrual discomfort.

Dress Comfortably

Wear moisture-wicking, breathable clothing that allows for freedom of movement. Avoid tight-fitting clothes that may exacerbate cramping or chafing. Uncomfortable clothing will annoy you 200% more whilst on your period!

Take Breaks

Listen to your body and take breaks as needed. Resting periodically can help alleviate fatigue and discomfort that you’ll experience on your period.

Stay clean

Proper hygiene is crucial while hiking, especially during your period. Carry hand sanitiser and biodegradable wipes to keep your hands clean when changing menstrual products. Dispose of used products properly, following Leave No Trace principles.

Leave no trace

If using disposable menstrual products, pack out used items in sealable bags or an old Nalgene bottle. Never bury or leave them behind, as they can harm the environment and wildlife.

Listen to Your Body

Pay attention to how you’re feeling and adjust your pace or itinerary accordingly. It’s okay to take it easy and prioritize self-care during your period.Embrace the Experience:While hiking on your period may present some challenges, it’s also an opportunity to connect with your body and embrace your femininity. Remember that menstruation is a natural process, and there’s no need to let it hold you back from enjoying outdoor adventures.

In conclusion, it is entirely possible to have some great hiking days on your period, and prior to having the coil fitted I had many! If you are more prepared then it’ll be way more enjoyable, and being active can even help with the pain, rather than lying still. 

If you are considering having the coil fitted then you should always consult a medical professional before hand to discover if this is the best option for you. Having a coil inserted shouldn’t be a hasty decision and research beyond reading this post is encouraged.