Period dramas are supposed to be all about tight corsetry and romantic whimsy, not silent cursing over those telltale cramps on your precious annual leave. But you just know it’s going to happen, writes Karli Drinkwater.
It’s sod’s law that your period will make an appearance on the week you want to loll about in a new bikini that’s definitely not intended for menstrual bloat. Less Downton Abbey sequins and more Bridget Jones flannel pyjamas.
Aside from it being a pain in the, well, uterus, some destinations don’t easily cater for lady problems due to cultural beliefs. Indonesia, for example, is like hopping into a time machine and going back to an era where women had to wash out their monthly rags.
Okay, that’s maybe a slight exaggeration – they do sell sanitary pads everywhere. But tampons? The essential little item that allows us to wear said new bikini and frolic by the pool? Step this way into the back office where we may possibly have a box under lock and key.
Most shops don’t sell them. Pharmacies and supermarkets might. Even then, it’s not unusual for them to be in a glass cabinet and you’re proffered a selection of boxes on the counter. Would you like regular or super plus, madam? Talk about heavy flow shaming.
Speak to the locals and most of them have no clue what a tampon even is. A group of girls giggled in surprise – and slight revulsion – when I showed them a YouTube video of what they are and how they’re used.
So what can we do to avoid a period panic? Well, of course, the obvious one is to take as many tampons with you as you can. If you’re going to a remote location, resources can be scarce and it helps to be prepared.
Plus, when the little cotton bullets are in stock, they may come at a heftier price than back home. You can expect to pay around £5 for a box of 20 tampons in Bali, for example; and that increases as you travel to further-flung areas.
Non-applicator tampons are good for making sure you have plenty of stock, due to their teeny size. But you’ll also need applicator tampons with you too, for those faraway places where hand-washing is difficult.
Another option is to delay your period altogether. Dr. Dharani Hapangami, an expert at Wellbeing of Women, says: “You can postpone a period with hormonal preparation, such as the combined pill, which allows control over when to have a period.”
But playing around with Mother Nature isn’t for everyone and being armed with enough products is the best solution in that case. Those pesky period pains will still be something you have to deal with (Ibuprofen: check), but they don’t have to ruin your sunshine fun-time.
Easing off on those cocktails so you’re not dehydrated will help, according to Dr Hapangami, as will avoiding spicy foods: “Spicy food may affect your intestines and that will add to the pelvic pain. Similarly foods that may potentially cause gastroenteritis should also be avoided for the same reason. Fruits and vegetables are ideal,” she says.
But hold the sadface – your period doesn’t have to mean passing up on mojitos or getting adventurous with local cuisine. The heat can actually help with the cramps for most women, according to our wellbeing expert.
“A cold drink with ice cubes in the heat will be as soothing as a hot water bottle in the cold weather,” says Dr Hapangami.
No dramas, ladies.
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