A while ago, mother runner Michelle posed a question to the the mother runner tribe on Facebook: How do you deal with your period—especially if it's heavy—during a race? We've heard nearly all variations on this theme, and wanted to devote a post to some great advice and methods for dealing with Aunt Flo on the run.
For a racing and training time saver, Kerrie and Chandra suggested the Divacup. Said Kerrie, "It's going to seem gross at first, but it'll take you a heck of a lot longer between bathroom runs than a tampon will." The Divacup also worked well for Chandra on back-country backpacking trips.
Michelle recommended Bifera as an iron supplement for ladies with a heavy flow and low iron.
As far as painkillers, said Danielle, "Aleve helps to lighten the flow. It's a godsend."
Emily, Sarah, Angi, and Michaela, raved about the Mirena IUD. Said Sarah, "I have a Mirena (love it) and have virtually no periods, unless I put in a really long run. When I do spot though, the cramping is awful. I think mental toughness is definitely required to deal with these sorts of "extras" as a woman runner."
"Another Mirena lover here!" added Michaela, "My 8-10 day heavy periods are now 2-3 days of very light bleeding or spotting. LOVE IT!"
Maria, however, cautioned "If you have Mirena, make sure you check it monthly. Mine punctured through my uterus after 1.5 years and I had to get it removed laproscopically." If you decide to go for the Mirena for birth control or period control, remember to check its placement regularly.
Penny had a warning for pad-using runners: "Be careful with pads. In a rainy race, I had an 'adhesive malfunction' and ended the race with it sticking out the back of my shorts."
Amber said her periods lessen as she increases the intensity or length of her runs: "When I am running harder and longer in prep for something, I end up not getting my periods at all." (A note of caution about losing your periods totally: exercise induced amenorrhea is a no-win situation: your bones sufffer and your fertility suffers, to name just two victims.)
Allison suggested natural (and caffeine -induced) remedies: "Herbally, I love B complex, Dandelion Tea, and Chaste Tree Berry. Oh -- and a skinny latte after a grueling workout always gives me a boost."
Leslie, also OR nurse, suggested Novasure, a quick, hormone-free procedure to lighten or stop periods, for runners who have a lot of Aunt Flo troubles.
Christine sought assistance from her OB, and was prescribed Loestrin FE. She said "it's awesome. Barely any bleeding at all, and PMS is a thing of the past."
Oh, and we recently learned about the "I am strong" running bikini set from "Believe I am", technical undies which have thin, built-in, breathable lining that acts like a pad, providing backup on your heavy (or light) days or just with that lovely leak issue we mother runners might know a bit about.
For those who just need a breather when Aunt Flo comes to town, Susan recommends paying attention to what your body needs. "The days before AF I am totally unmotivated and give myself license to lay around. Within a couple of days, I'm ready to begin again."
Have you dealt with Aunt Flo on a run recently? What devices and methods work the best for you?