Around the World

On the Rag and on the Run, Part II

Continued from yesterday’s post:

Menstruation isn't scary!

Image courtesy of Bumblebee Enterprises, NZ.

“But Erica,” I can hear some saying yet again, “when I said ‘pain,’ I really meant pain! My cramps and bloating are so bad that I can’t move and have to lie in my bed for days and days and days!” This may be true. Everyone’s body is different and, for some, the term “monthly pain” is horribly accurate. Even those of us who don’t have terrible cramps might experience a day or two of discomfort, which can sometimes put us in terrible moods on the days when we most want to be adventurous. There are many things we can do to relieve them, of course, from synthetic hormone pills to hot water bottles, but if you’re on the go…what do you do?

The first suggestion is that you exercise. It sounds counter-intuitive, especially if you’re miserable, but standing and moving aids your uterus and vagina in doing exactly what the cramps are attempting to do: shed your uterine lining. Gravity and friction in the course of regular activity, like taking a walk or going for a hike, can work wonders (on a side note, this is why people in labour are encouraged to walk, squat, and generally use gravity to their advantage). Another thing that will help, as much as I hate saying it, is eating healthier foods during the days shortly before and early in your period. Things that are high in protein, in particular, help alleviate cramping.  Of course, another tip is to use relaxation and touch. There are several massage techniques that can be used to assist where gravity isn’t working. Some of them are designed to be done with your own two hands, but if you have a friend or partner nearby, there are other easy techniques that can be applied while you lie down and enjoy the relief. YouTube is full of videos to teach you how, as are web health boards. None of this is to discourage you from seeking medical attention if you have severe cramping- you and only you can determine what you do and don’t need to make yourself comfortable- but even if you need specific medications to help you through each cycle, these are things that can work with your meds to make you feel even better.

So there you have it: an article full of reasons that having your period isn’t the end of the world or the end of your adventures. It may take some planning to be able to accommodate when you’re planning trips to remote or rural areas, but it should never have to mean that you postpone or cancel it. Use products that minimize your impact on the local environment, particularly trash-wise, and that minimize your dependency on drugstore access. Let your period be an excuse to get out and about when your cramping’s bad, and take the time to wander through the nearest open-air market or nature reserve. And finally, lighten up, whether you’re on the rag or not. Even when corporations looking to make a few bucks off us aren’t ragging on us for needing rags, we tend to do it amongst ourselves. How much do we sigh and complain when we start noticing that our menses are upon us? We don’t have to fall in love with our periods, or deny the ways in which they can be inconvenient, but we do need to stop treating them like a curse. They’re a fact of life for many of us. If we look at them that way, then maybe we can stop looking at them as though they’re justification for being set back in any adventure of our choosing.

Erica Laue
Erica first set foot on a plane when she was ten months old. 28 years, 18 countries, and four continents later, the travel bug’s still strong in her veins, and she's become increasingly engaged with issues of power, gender, sex, equality, and access around the world.

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