With spring upon us, you’re probably looking forward to soaking in the sun and making the most of the warmer weather. Maybe you’re planning on hiking, swimming, camping, or engaging in another outdoor activity. But with heavy bleeding caused by your fibroids, you may feel like spending time outside of the house isn’t possible.
A heavy period is generally defined as a menstrual flow that lasts longer than seven days, requires changing pads or tampons every hour or two, or produces large blood clots. About 30% of women living with fibroids report experiencing heavy periods.
They can be disruptive, uncomfortable, and embarrassing in certain situations. However, with the right strategies and tools, it is possible to manage heavy periods and enjoy the great outdoors.
Wondering what foods can make your period lighter? Or how you can still have a good time outdoors, even when your period is heavy? We’ve got the answers. Here are 3 tips for helping you live your best life and do the things you love while experiencing heavy periods.
Preparation is key
We’ve all been there – you’re outdoors, having a great time, when suddenly…there’s a leak. Or a stain on your jeans. Or, rifling through your bag on the way to the restroom, you have the sinking realization that you don’t have any more pads or tampons with you.
When you’re getting ready for your outdoor adventure, keep all of these potential scenarios in mind. Basically, operate under the assumption that what can go wrong will go wrong, and pack accordingly!
If you use pads or tampons, bring about double the amount that you think you’ll need. If you’re going on a long hiking or camping trip where you won’t have waste disposal available to you at all times, bring airtight Ziploc baggies so you can store your used menstrual products and dispose of them once you’re back in civilization.
Be sure to pack extra sets of clothes (underwear, leggings, or pants). Tuck a stain remover stick (there are options available that are around the size of a chapstick) into your bag just in case. While it might seem like you’re bringing too much, if you end up with a period emergency, you’ll be grateful that you took the steps to prepare for exactly this situation.
Double up on protection
For outdoor activities, tampons and menstrual cups are your best choices as they are able to move with your body and are less likely to result in leakage. But for women with heavy periods, relying on just one method of period control at a time means taking a serious risk.
While this isn’t possible when swimming, it’s a good idea to use more than one feminine hygiene product at once. For example, if you’re hiking while using a tampon, consider also placing a pad in your underwear. That way, if it takes you longer than you initially thought to reach a bathroom, you’re still covered.
However, if you’ve never tried certain menstrual products, a full day spent outdoors isn’t the best time to experiment. Stick to your tried-and-true solutions when you’re not going to have easy access to a bathroom or change of clothes.
Doubling up on your menstrual solutions can give you critical peace of mind when it might be hours between the time you can visit a restroom. However, it’s important to remember to never use two internal period products (such as both a tampon and a menstrual cup, or two tampons or menstrual cups) simultaneously.
Eat extra iron and slash alcohol consumption
Women with heavy periods often report intense PMS symptoms, including bloating, fatigue, and painful abdominal cramping. These symptoms will likely make spending a full day outdoors an unappealing option.
The good news that there are some dietary changes you can make which have the potential to relieve some of these issues. A study found that consuming extra iron can help lessen PMS symptoms and may reduce menstrual bleeding – however, it is not a cure for heavy periods.
While there’s no specific food that can make periods lighter, studies suggest that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains may help regulate hormones and reduce menstrual flow. Additionally, staying hydrated and reducing caffeine and alcohol consumption may also have a positive effect on the duration and severity of menstrual cycles.
You don’t need to change your diet dramatically, but do consider these changes ahead of an outdoor trip so you can feel more energized and possibly lighten your flow.
Your menstrual cycle doesn’t need to dictate your life
Although both the risks of leaks and pain from PMS may make you wary of trying outdoor adventures while heavily menstruating, there are steps you can take to feel free outdoors.
It’s important to plan frequent rest breaks, which can provide opportunities to change sanitary products and relieve discomfort. Wearing comfortable and breathable clothing can also help reduce discomfort and allow for better mobility, which is especially critical when you’re changing products.
By preparing yourself, doubling up on supplies and clothing, and cutting down on alcohol and caffeine while increasing your iron intake, you can still go hiking, camping, and swimming. You don’t need to resign yourself to missing out on outdoor fun when you have your period.
Don’t let your heavy period hold you back from living your life the way that you want. With the right strategies and tools, you can participate in outdoor activities with your loved ones and friends, and enjoy everything that the new season has to offer you.