Oh, periods. The bane of womankind all over the world. We’re not going to try and convince you they’re not a gigantic pain (and we mean that literally as well as figuratively) but they’re something we all have to deal with. But while we’re all used to them at home, what happens if you get your period on Kilimanjaro? With a lot of tricky factors at play, this is something all girls have to think about before they set off to Tanzania. Here’s a post that will hopefully alleviate some of your anxieties…
The Lowdown: your period on Kilimanjaro
Altitude can be a tricky beast. And it has one particularly nasty trick up its sleeve for women… yep, being at altitude can play havoc on your menstrual cycle. Periods can be early, extra long, heavier or even pop up completely unexpectedly. Even if you have a super regular cycle, altitude can mess everything up. So even if you think you’re comfortably out of the woods, always expect the unexpected.
Can I use tampons on Kilimanjaro?
At Earth’s Edge, we’re big fans of more environmentally friendly menstrual products, like period cups and knickers. In fact, it’s often a hot topic of conversation in our group chat! But Kili is a place where these don’t work so well, unfortunately. Because there isn’t a supply of hot water to wash cups, reusable pads or knickers, they’re not safe to use on a trek. Your best bet is tampons or pads.
How do I dispose of them on Kiliamnjaro?
Quite rightly, there is a leave no trace policy on Kili. That means that you can’t leave any of your rubbish behind you. And that includes tampons. Even if you’re using a long drop toilet, you can’t put your tampons in there. So you need to bring some biodegradable bags with you and take all of your used tampons and pads with you when you go. It’s not pleasant, but it’s one of those things we all have to do, for the greater good. It’s a good idea to bring a larger, zip lock bag with you so you can keep this nice and sanitary in your pack before disposing of them at the end of the trek.
Even if you’re not expecting your period, be sure to bring enough sanitary products with you just in case. You can’t nip to Boots halfway up Kilimanjaro!
What about period pain?
Ugh. It’s never any fun, no matter where you are in the world. But add in altitude, camping and physical fatigue, and they’re even less fun. Bring whatever painkillers work for you, and make sure you have enough for the entire trek. If you suffer from debilitating period cramps, talk to your doctor before you go to see if there’s anything they can prescribe before you set off.
If you want to read more about our Kilimanjaro expedition, click the link. We’ve also written a full Girls Guide to Climbing Kilimanjaro, which covers all the hot topics for girls like poo, washing and periods!