How I Prep for a Flight When My Period Is Late
Your brain controls your menstrual cycle. Specifically, the hypothalamus tells your pituitary gland when it's time to have a period. Certain things, such as stress, can affect those signals. That's why your bleeding can shift when you've got a lot on your mind.1
Anyone can have an irregular cycle from time to time. But it can be really annoying when you've got plans. And it's a phenomenon that might be more common in people with endo. There's evidence a dysregulated immune response might be to blame.2
My period was more than 10 days late when I headed to the airport earlier this summer. Even though I was fully vaccinated, and COVID-19 case numbers were way down — this was before the fourth wave — I was definitely stressed about flying.
Would they cancel the flight last minute? Would people wear masks? Is this a terrible idea?
Regular immune system or not, my period tends to go awry when I'm worried about something. As you can probably guess, it's been all over the place during the COVID-19 pandemic — my cycles have ranged from 20 to 33 days over the past year.
And as I headed to the airport, I had no idea when my period would come. But my flow is super heavy when it starts. So, I boarded my flight prepared.
I wore period panties
I wasn't spotting or bleeding. But I put on my "sport" Thinx period panties before I left the house. The website says this design holds about 3 tampons worth. But a better gauge for me is that they'll hold a couple hours of blood.
I also tossed my "super hiphugger" Thinx in my carry-on. These hold five tampons — or about 6 to 10 hours of my medium-to-heavy flow.
I'll go through a tampon an hour when my period starts — which it did right as I boarded the plane. So, I changed into my super absorbent Thinx halfway through the 8-hour flight.
I know what you're probably thinking: What did you do with the pair you were wearing? Weren't they full of blood? Yes, but they weren't wet like you might expect. Still, I wrapped them in paper towels and put them back in my carry-on. (That little bag they give you for motion sickness would've also worked.)
I could've worn a menstrual pad if I didn't have period panties. There are cloth and disposable kinds. (I've never tried a menstrual cup. And tampons aren't very comfortable for me, and I definitely wouldn't wear one if my period hadn't already started.)
I took ibuprofen
I always have this anti-inflammatory staple with me. It's part of the pain-management plan my doctor designed for me. I take it preemptively — meaning during the days leading up to my period. That means I'd taken one before the flight, and I kept up with my dose every 4 to 6 hours.
Ibuprofen might not help everyone with endo, but it does take the edge off of my worst pain.
I had my migraine meds available
An attack can come on suddenly before or during my period. Dehydration, which can happen when I fly, is another trigger. I didn't get a migraine this cycle, but I had my prescription just in case. And I drank plenty of water.
I wore comfortable clothes
My endo belly slowly inflates the few days before my period, which means I was puffy before my flight. But it blows way up when my period starts. I can't tell you exactly why. Though, I'm sure inflammation does something to trigger whatever nerves lead to bloating.
That means I've got lots of loose-fitting clothes in my endo wardrobe. I don't wear elastic or anything that's tight around my waist during the first days of my period.
For my flight, I chose my favorite "relaxed fit" dress. It has a tie around the waist, but I didn't use it. (Note: It's the racerback midi dress by CALIA from Carrie Underwood. I have two of them. They're now a must for my endo wardrobe.)
I didn't freak out
I'm no stranger to anxiety, especially around my period. But even though I didn't know when it would start, my menstrual-prep helped me feel more relaxed before I took my trip.
Do you have any pre-flight endo tips? Let us know!
What's in your emergency endo kit?