Today I’m talking about blood. We Saltines have a collective 5 million runs on the rag, so here are some of the most common period products we’ve tried and how they worked for running.
A cup is a great option for a long run as you can go quite a while without needing to empty it. However, there is quite a learning curve for finding the correct product (size and shape vary among brands) and insertion technique, so practice practice practice before taking one for a test run. I am still a novice with the cup and have felt slippage while running, which has occasionally required removal mid-run — fortunately at my home treadmill. Other Saltines, including Honey, rave about the comfort of the Cup.
Probably the most common choice! A tampon will keep your crotch blood-free as long as it doesn’t start sliding out mid-run or get saturated. For those with heavier flows, a change mid-run may be necessary so consider bathroom options while planning your route. Personally, while I used tampons sans probleme for many years, I found it to slide, chafe, and even stab my vagina after giving birth and can no longer tolerate tampons for running and I have heard similar stories from other mothers. Some have even found that wearing a tampon increases incontinence.
Honestly? You might as well grab a handful of leaves and stick it down your pants — cheaper and yields the same result. Pads soak up blood and sweat externally, so you’re running a huge risk of labial chafing. The underside of the pad will also lose its adhesiveness as it gets wet. Trust us, you do not want a pad on the loose in your shorts. I would only recommend a pad as an option for someone with a light cycle planning a short run on a cool day. Readers – have any of you run with a cloth pad? Is it more comfortable and will it last through a long run? We have heard of this, and are intrigued.
My flow is pretty light, so my personal preference for all but Day 1 of my cycle is just wearing plain black shorts and hitting the road. Yes, I have to rinse them before throwing them in the wash, but otherwise this is NBD for a light day as long as you’re not squeamish.
Period Undies (aka Thinx)
I love my Thinx for my heaviest flow day, but again, my heavy day is still relatively light. The absorption of fluid is decent and can get me through a long run. Women with heavier periods may not be protected as well; however, period undies can still serve as a good backup to an internal option such as tampon or cup. For novice menstruators with light-ish flow, period undies are a good simple option for period protection.
Standing Under a Tree and Waiting For Your Period to Stop Before You Start Your Run
Sometimes, especially if you have a heavy flow and have experienced epic fails with every conceivable method of soaking up the blood, this can seem like a tempting option. It’s not really practical, though. Do not recommend. Instead, don’t give up and don’t be afraid to talk about it and ask for advice!
Anytime you are dealing with moisture, you risk chafing. Regardless of whether you choose an internal or external option to absorb menstrual blood, I recommend a lubricant like Aquaphor applied liberally in the crotch (don’t forget between the labia) to reduce chafing. It’s also a good idea to tote a few squares of TP (keep it dry in a baggie) or even individually wrapped wet wipes to make any pit stops as sanitary as possible. Public restrooms can be icky even on the best of days!
Readers, what products do you use? Any tips?