This blog might get a bit graphic because it was my personal experience, but it had such an impact that I wanted to share to help others. I had a woman’s worst nightmare before my Ironman 70.3, my period. It was something I had absolutely dreaded happening. Thing is I have PCOS so my periods whilst I’m lucky have pretty much sorted themselves out time wise. They can be a few days out, here and there. This was bang on. Typical – hey?! I was about to do my first 70.3 and instead of worrying about the race, I was now worrying about this.
Periods before Raceday
I have heavy periods meaning I need to change regularly, and during races I hate stopping and try to avoid where possible. Was my period going to force me to stop during my race? I was upset by the concept but I had no choice to go with it and hope for the best.
Prior to leaving the UK I had been tracking my cycle via the Garmin connect app and knew it would be around race day. I researched what other people did. Basically, it was either take a pill to skip it (which I’m not about because of PCOS I don’t need to cause havoc with my cycle anymore), or almost forfeit your race and know you need to stop.
My period was due
I made my peace with it and said to myself to pack and prepare like I was going to have come on by the 5th December. What were my choices? Pads were out because of the swim, also padding in the trisuit for the bike might be a bit much. Next was tampons. They were going to be the next best thing but I could rely on them for the entire race? I wasn’t doing a full distance triathlon so I didn’t need to be worrying about being on the go for 15 hours, I was aiming to be finished between 6 hours and 7 hours, but even so, I knew even a super tampon couldn’t last. What was I going to do?
Period options for my triathlon
I could carry extra tampons and then I could just change along the way. Even though it wasn’t ideal, it seemed to be the best option. I luckily had been digging around the internet for a while because deep down I knew tampons that could only last a while, weren’t my only option. During my search I finally stumbled across a triathlete who had been using period pants. I got hold of some period pants to try from Primark over my next cycle, and whilst they were good, definitely not something I’d use during a race! Onto the next idea
Period pants or a menstrual cup?
This same triathlete had been using period pants from Saalt, who I found also did something called a menstrual cup. These menstrual cups can last up to 12 hours, they’re far more environmentally friendly and don’t leak. Sounded too good to be true, so I had one last period to trial the Saalt menstrual cup before the one before the race.
Saalt Menstrual Cup wins
It was a bit strange to use having never had anything like it before, but once you get use to how it feels you don’t notice it. Unlike tampons that absorb menstrual cups collect it in the cup, meaning you’re less at risk of tss. Excellent news because you can actually leave it in for up to 12 hours. The cups are made from 100% medical grade silicone too. One thing I will say is be sure to keep it clean. Saalt do special cleaning soap, and I will say, that it’s nice to give yourself a break from using it. This is when I would suggest period pants (obviously when not doing a triathlon).
- BPA free
- Latex free
- Toxin free
- Vegan & cruelty free
- FDA registered and compliant
How did the triathlon go?
Back to the 5th December and I have just discovered my period has arrived on race day. I decided to wait until we got to race start before using the Saalt cup. Must admit, I do get a touch paranoid about having accidents so I wanted to give myself as much time as possible. I did the change at the start and off I went. I can honestly say I didn’t notice the cup at all through out the entire race.
If I’m ever doing a run or a triathlon I can honestly say I will be using a Saalt menstrual cup, I literally didn’t need to worry at all. Best decision I’d made! I must admit I don’t know what you would do for a full distance triathlon, the only other option than skipping would be to change half way. The beauty of the menstrual cup is that it is small so you can move them around easily.