Hiking with a Mooncup - @rianna_kate
by Joel Peart on Feb 10, 2023
Ok, firstly, let’s get something very clear: I am not big advocate of intense exercise or huge mountain days on your period, because that’s time well spent in recovery and, as I learnt only too well recently, if you ignore that recovery period (genuinely didn’t spot this brilliant pun until the proof read), you pay for it big time.
How to use a Mooncup
Bit of background… I use a Mooncup during my period. I find it comfortable, easy to use (after a few practice runs) and secure. Plus, there’s always the added smugness of knowing that you’re contributing to less waste by investing in something reusable and better for the environment.
I also use period wear, which I find comforting to use overnight and during the last day or two of my period when the flow is lighter, but if I’m using a Mooncup, I tend to just wear regular underwear because I don’t feel the need for additional support.
When it comes to hiking, this is the first time I’ve been out on the mountain with a bleed (I used to have the coil) and I was genuinely amazed at how well the Mooncup performed on such active days.
For context, I ended up in this situation because I had booked onto a winter hiking course over a year ago, and I wasn’t exactly going to turn around and re-jig a £550 course with such limited availability based on sketchy period maths. I was expecting it to arrive a bit earlier due to the flight (changes in air pressure can affect your cycle, who knew?!) and the physical stress I was about to put my body through.
Thankfully, even though I got my period mid-way through the course, it arrived in the evening after one of our biggest days out on the hill.
Exercising During your Period
Conquering Britain’s second highest mountain and 17km in the snow and ice, whilst using crampons for the first time across 6 hours isn’t exactly the breeze of a day I tend to opt for during this phase…!
The next day I was feeling tired (for obvious reasons) but I had faith in my trusty period sidekick! And it did not disappoint. We got up to a decent height, spent a lot of the day practising sliding around on the ice, kicking in with crampons, and self-arrests (which is where you voluntarily slide down a patch of snow and then stop yourself by flipping around onto your front with an ice axe).
Coming off the mountain, I found us being consistently blown over by 60-70 mph wind gusts, so in summary I was active for most of the day and spent a fair amount of time rolling around in strange positions… no leakage in 6 hours ☺
And this was the same on Friday, and the same on Saturday – no real need to go to the toilet (you tend to sweat and therefore drink less in winter), no feeling like there might be leakage, and full trust that I’m good to carry on with whatever I’m doing!
Can you imagine changing a tampon up a snowy mountain and then having to take it with you back down in your pack? Or needing the toilet and changing a pad / keeping the same one because you can’t be bothered to get a new one out because you’re freezing? Because you cannot leave any trace up there; no toilet roll, no nothing.
Admittedly, I didn’t need to empty my Mooncup, but if I did, I knew could just wash it out with water from my bottle (NO EMPTYING OR WASHING ANYWHERE NEAR A STREAM OR WATER SOURCE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD PLEASE), put it back in, sanitise my hands and be off again!
Women’s Outdoor Clothing Brands
As you can probably tell, I am a fan of the environment, being comfortable (albeit in uncomfortable situations), and quality gear for women – which is where ACAI comes in. There’s a fair amount of women’s outdoor clothing brands that I feel belong in the same box as sanitary pads; it’s below average quality and ironically not particularly useful for women.
I have tried and tested many brands and found only a few that satisfy my needs outdoors (and quite a few of those items are made for men, because I’m tall – 5’10”). So when I first tried the ACAI trousers (pictured) I was very impressed with:
- the fit
- the durability (I also use them for climbing outdoors)
- the comfort level
- heat regulation (particularly for the fleece lined thermal trousers where I was worried about overheating)
the overall weather resistance (I live in Scotland and am out in most weather; if it’s horrendous I’ve always got my bombproof Gortex layers, but for light rain, and drier winter days I don’t even need over-trousers!)
Good gear is invaluable on mountains, and good gear whilst on your period on mountains is even better, because it makes such a difference to your mood and energy levels.
At the start of this I wrote about ignoring your recovery and paying for it big time. Felt that to the extreme towards the end of this week, not only in relation to my energy levels, but also in my mood; I was IRRITABLE AF about everything.
Legit everything. I wanted to kill my partner sometimes for being an inch away from me in bed. It was such a mental struggle to remember that I do in fact love this person and I shouldn’t yell at him over dinner plans or ignore him completely and expect him to read my mind.
I speak often about managing your cycle and energy, but I also acknowledge that when you’re in this type of environment, there’s not a lot you can do. This week in particular, so much of my energy (that was already at the lower end of my spectrum) was put towards focus, learning, being socially engaged with other people on this course, physical stamina and effort, that I essentially finished the day with a negative energy balance.
Extrapolate that over a week, and you’re just fully done. You have to find your energy gainers, which for me were:
- a nightly soak in the bath
- reading fiction books
- sleeping at least 8 hours
- putting my phone on DND for basically the whole week
- having quality gear that kept me dry and comfortable
Menstrual Cycle Phases & Hormones
Your menstrual phase is a super low hormone phase and your focus naturally tends to shift inwards; it makes it a great time to reflect and review things in your life. That might be work, relationships, the past month, goals for the next quarter, or just self-assessing your current mood and getting stuck into a good read. Could be going for a walk.
The important thing is to know your body and where your limits are. I certainly hit mine that week, and although I enjoyed myself immensely, I know that pursuing this every period would be detrimental to my own self-confidence, physical recovery and quality of my relationships.
Thankfully, at least I don’t have to worry about how to handle my physical period and can just trust the Mooncup to ensure that side of things is covered. I just have to handle my hormones ☺