Will Aunt Flo be joining the Girl's trip away?
Written by Anna Fraser
The short answer: yes, travelling can have an effect on your cycle. Your circadian rhythm – basically the internal body clock that tells the body when to release an egg – can be thrown out of balance and result in a late, early or skipped period. But don’t worry – this is normal and FabLittleBag are here to help you enjoy your holidays
When you go on holiday, no matter how organized you are, your body experiences both positive and negative stress (the excitement of exploring a new place versus the panic of forgetting your passport). Added to this, if you’re going somewhere with a big time difference, your sleep cycle will be disrupted by jet lag, which can be worse if you’re jetting off west to east. Even without throwing jet lag into the mix, those late-night parties, or sleeping in the heat/ up a mountain can alter your body’s blood pressure and will disturb your body’s usual routines. The ‘stress’ of these kinds of changes affects the production of oestrogen and the hormone balance which lets your body know when it’s time to ovulate. Likewise, an unfortunate side effect of going away can be getting ill. Crammed with lots of people on a plane, the possibility of drinking water that’s not so good for you or eating food you’re not used to can raise the likelihood of feeling squiffy.
While on holiday, sticking to usual routines of sleep, exercise and meals will help balance out your body as much as possible. If Aunt Flo does crash the fun, don’t let her ruin the vibe! Remember – Preparation Preparation Preparation ! Packing pads and tampons is a good idea as, depending on where you’re spending your vacay, they might be difficult to find, or not be your favorite brand. It might be handy to know the local lingo when asking as well (in Brazil, “Naqueles días” means “I’m on my period”). Sanitary bins abroad can be different from the UK (where they’re still often squished into the side of toilet cubicles as an afterthought – something Emma Barnett uncomfortably refers to as ‘sani-bin thigh graze’) and you might struggle to find a good place to dispose of your used period products. So, it’s well worth packing a few FabLittleBags to make sure you can bin and not risk the flush.
Lack of a waste facilities is worse in countries with stronger taboos and stigmas around menstruation makes flushing rather than binning seem like the easiest option. EcoProd lists lack of sanitary disposal bins or the unsuitability of dirty and smelly bins as the main factor for flushing and figures from the Marine Conservation Society tells us that for every 100m of beach cleaned in the UK, 4 pads, panty liners and backing strips and 1.2 used tampons and applicators are found. Their 2021 Great British Beach Clean found that 6.3% of litter collected was from sewage related debris like sanitary products. When we go on holiday, we don’t want to see this kind of litter spoiling our Mamma Mia fantasy, so take along a handy FabLittleBag to made sure it’s you and not your pads lying sunny side up on the beach.
Tips for travelling on your period.
- Be Prepared!
Depending on how long you’re travelling for, you might not want to bulk out your suitcase with loads of pads but packing a few means you won’t be caught out. Don’t forget to pack some FabLittleBags so you can dispose of them properly rather than polluting the homes of the dolphins you want to go swimming with. Or, try a menstrual cup – but try it before your holiday as it can take some getting used to!
- Birth Control
If you’re on birth control such as the pill, it might be worth considering skipping your period in line with medical advice (e.g. The Combined Oral Contraceptive Pill, though this is not possible with the Progesterone only Pill – see the NHS website for more details). If you’re travelling to a different time zone, it is important to remember to take your daily dose according to your local time, not the time zone you’re visiting, so that it remains effective.
- Drink Water!
Not only will you need to stay hydrated if visiting a sunny place, drinking plenty of water will help reduce any nasty cramps from periods.
- Comfy Clothes
You’re likely already packing some comfy plane clothes already, but taking loose, flowy clothing for the beach can help you feel more comfortable (and still feel confident and stylish) if you’re period does decide to show up.
While you might need to adjust for time zone changes and late-night parties, if you can try and maintain a regular sleeping schedule this will help your circadian rhythm adjust and maintain a regular cycle.