This week I wanted to take a break from the fan fiction I have been writting, my apolagies! Instead, I wanted to write something out of the ordinary that can hopefully help people in SUSS. From my knowledge, this is not discussed within the group much (and why would it? it’s very penis orientated). You guys know i’m not a hard-core feminist, but I think it would be cool if this was talked about more often within the caving community. This post isn’t restircted to anyone and is not ‘for’ anyone. I’d just like to raise awareness and give advice.

I’ve been caving for around 2 years now, and I also bleed/Mestruate. So I wanted to help out SUSS members who bleed too. I have compiled a few tips and tricks below that might help any of you out. Whilst I hope you enjoy, I want to stress that I have no medical training, and heck, Rostam would probably do better at writing this up than me. (Context: he is medically trained, but I am not) So whilst, yes I have experience with caving and bleeding, take this with a pinch of salt. Who knows, maybe Rostam will end up writting up a better version! I am also not a nutritionist. Just putting it out there.

Things you should know: Your cycle will predict your strength, hormones and mood. Keep this in mind. Also: everyone is different. I’ve tried to stress this in the article. Things I would do and reccomend, others won’t. Take everything you read and see on the internet with a pinch of salt.

Tip 1:Notice how you feel. And eat. 

Feeling hungrier today? Do you know for a fact your period is due? It’s probably no coincidence there. Feeling hungry for no reason? Feeling hungry for a reason? It doesn’t really matter. Definitely eat, and bring more caving sweets than you think you’ll need, especially if you know your period is coming up, or has started. Your body is hungry for a reason. It’s telling you that it wants more calories. So give it what it needs! In practical terms, even though blood loss from a period is not *that* much blood, it feels like a lot. And inbalance/change in hormones are enough to drop mood and give fatigue easily. Eating really is imperative here if you want to give yourself enough calories to keep the body going whilst on the move and doing long stints underground. What would I recommend? Well, fats are going to stave off hunger, carbs are going to give energy (slow or quick release) and proteins are the building blocks of muscle. (Fats= think advocado, peanut butter, egg, yoghurt, oils) (Carbs= bread, rice, pasta, fruit) Make sure to eat a full meal an hour or so before caving.

Tip 2: ‘Mooncups’ are sent from heaven

Mooncups are the best invention for periods in the 21st century, in my oppinion. I really recommend you do your research and look them up. Most months I don’t get bothered by my period anymore and can swim, climb, go caving and get wet without having to worry about anything slipping, overflowing etc. These things catch the blood (In a cup, hence the name) and are inserted a little like a tampon. They never slip out, they are easy to put in and take out once you’ve practiced it enough (drawback: you must practice and get used to it!) and they can stay in up to a whole day depending on flow. Another draw back is that, some find this too uncomfortable with inserting, because I must admit, it’s far easier to insert a tampon than a mooncup. These are also great for the environment because they are re-usable products, and not like tampons where you use them once and bin. An alternative to this are tampons, but as I’m sure most of you already know what they are, I do not need to explain 🙂

I would not recommend using pads. DON’T. USE. PADS. Yes, I have tried. It was awful. Never again. It’s messy, non discrete and just not cool.

Tip 3: You don’t have to go caving

Who says you have to go caving if you’re having cramps ? If your period suprises you at last minute then you can always let someone know. Hopefully a post like this will make more poeple aware that having a period sucks whilst caving,and so more understanding will be there if you need to cancel last minute. It’s bad enough having cramps and then having to do cold muddy ducks. No thank you! Following this, don’t let anyone tell you that you should ‘toughen up’ and go caving anyway. Some periods are too painful to leave the bed. Let alone put a harness on with cold fingers.

Tip 4: Keep a healthy Mentality

Sometimes, just knowing you have your period can really turn a normal day into a bad day. Even just knowing it’s going to start/ has started without prior knowledge can be annoying, upsetting and feel awful. It sucks. But knowing it sucks and deciding to go caving anyway is strong. Making your own decision to *NOT* go caving and taking a day off is strong. As long as you keep a healthy mentality about it, things should be fine. 🙂

Tip 5: Don’t know when it’s coming? Use a tracker app

I have only started using a tracker app recently, and it has helped me understand my own period a lot more. By knowing your cycle, you can predict possible cramps, and know if you should take pain killers with you to the caving hut, or take them before you go in the cave etc. I use”Clue”.

Tip 6: What if my period starts inside the cave?

If you don’t track your period, and find that you’ve started your period in the cave, the advice I’d offer is to find the nearest showers (in a caving hut) after your caving session and clean the pants with your hands with plain water. It works so well for removing stains, that I’d give this advice for any form of leakages too. The stains are better romoved than when being placed straight into the washing machine. Avoid warm water whilst doing this and head for cold water instead. Always pack a whole set of spare clothes and a towel. This will help you. Packing a spare bag will mean you can simply place any dirty items of clothing in the bag, and forgetting about them until you get home.

If you suddenly feel you might be mestruating whilst on the move and feel uncomfortable, tell a trip leader or anyone you feel you trust and comfortable with. As for me, because I am using my own kit, and have multiple layers around my crotch, I would just carry on and clean up afterwards. Perhaps this is because I know the flow is not heavy on my first day, but on my second, so for me I feel comfortable pressing onward for a few hours. However, this one is really up to you and whatever you feel comfortable with. The trick is knowing your own body and knowing the context. (E.G: is it a big cave, will I be underground for many more hours?)

Tip 7: Bring a small hot water bottle

If you know you will be visitng a caving hut, it will probably contain a kettle. Use this to your advantage! Whilst tea helps, also filling a hot water bottle with hot water for after the caving session to hug onto will help too.

Tip 8: Breast pain sucks

I’m not gonna lie, Breast pain hurts me the most. It feels like my two blobs of fat are going to explode, bleed and drop right off my chest sometimes. How can we get round this? Well, here, my advice would be: let someone know that you don’t want any extremely tight squeezes on the trip, because it’s incredibly painful to even lightly touch. Avoid crawls too, if you don’t feel up for that. In reality, of course, because this affects me the most, I wouldn’t go caving. Whilst I can live through camping, breast pain hits me hard and I don’t want to leave the house or put a bra on. It’s too much. Therefore, depending on *what you want to do*, the situation would change.

Well I guess that’s it! I hope this helped. Let me know if there is anything i’ve missed. I hope that some of you got something from this 🙂