Thursday, May 3, 2012

BMT: The Period Problem

**Enter the TMI topic!  Males, go ahead and navigate away now, unless you're morbidly curious!**

I get asked period questions all the time.  It's not something most people feel comfortable asking their recruiter about, and it's yet another source of anxiety for a number of people.  Let me put your mind at ease, or at least, let me answer those questions!  If you think of something I haven't addressed, just leave your questions in the comments section and I'll add them to the post!

Tampons or pads?  Your choice, but I'd bring tampons if I was choosing between those two.  Tampons are easier to store, easier to carry on your person, and would feel more comfortable during those physically demanding challenges, such as the week at BEAST or on the obstacle course.  Some trainees opted to buy pantyliners as well, and most are small enough to store easily.  Your feminine supplies will have to go in the back of your security drawer, along with your loose toiletries, your hair items, your stationery supplies, your lint roller, etc.  You don't have a lot of space back there, so keep your supplies as small and compact.

How many supplies should I bring?  One box should be fine, and if not, you'll have the opportunity to buy more at the mini-mall.

Can we carry tampons/pads on our person?  Yes, you can!  It's one of the only items you can put into your pocket.  You're not allowed to put anything in your pockets - pens, hands, lip balm, etc., but you are allowed to put the necessary tampons for the day in a pocket.  Many chose to stash them in the calf pockets, since they're the perfect size.

Will I get my period at BMT?  Some trainees report that due to stress, they don't have a period at all while they're at BMT.  This wasn't the case for me.  Expect it to happen for you, but know that if it doesn't happen that it's not uncommon.  Everyone's body is different, and everyone will react differently to the stress that BMT presents.

What do I do if I get my period and I'm not prepared?  Your MTI will be used to having a flight full of 50+ menstruating females, so don't feel too awkward or uncomfortable.  Our male MTI told us that if we needed to take care of business that we should just tell him it was a "Code Red" situation and he would let us go on our way.  No big deal at all.  If you should find yourself out and about without supplies, ask others in your flight - someone else has to be in your same situation.

Eek!  What if I spot?  Will the laundry crew notice?  It's unlikely that your laundry crew will notice (or care) if you have an accident.  All of your underwear will be washed in a mesh bag, along with socks, sports bras, and compression shorts.  Your laundry mark will be on the bag, so your name won't be emblazoned on it.  The mesh bags are shoved in a laundry bag that is lined with a plastic trash bag if the items are wet.  You can put your mesh bag into a smaller white trash bag if you have wet items, then place it into the laundry bag.  There's a ton of laundry, and the laundry crew is often pressed for time, so I doubt they're going to be leisurely glancing at all of your items.  Don't stress about it, we've all been there.  You won't have time to soak your underwear, like you might at home, although you may be able to rinse it out for a bit before putting it in your mesh bag (and then a plastic bag).

I have really bad cramps, can I bring pain relievers?  Nope.  There are very strict rules at BMT about not letting trainees "self-medicate."  Prior to leaving for BMT, I stopped taking pain relievers while I was cramping because I knew they wouldn't be allowed down at BMT and my MTI probably wouldn't be sympathetic.  I would suggest that you try to do the same, if you're used to relying on them.  We all just hung in there and sucked it up during that time of the month.  The only way you'd get a pain reliever is if you have a "pain pack" from Reid Clinic.  Pain packs are typically given to trainees who have colds or fevers.  I didn't hear of one being given to a trainee with cramps, but it's worth asking your MTI if you can go to Reid's sick call if you truly have debilitating menstrual cramps.  The worst they can say is no.

I use a menstual cup.  Will that work at BMT?  Yes it will!  Most likely if you're using this sort of product, you've been using it for a while, so this is nothing new to you.  I took mine and was never questioned about it during the shakedown.  I had no issues with mine during any of the physical activities.

Can I continue to take birth control pills at BMT?  Yes, birth control is the only medication they don't mind or monitor.  You may continue to take your pills while you're down there.  I'd bring enough packs to get you through the 8.5 weeks, rather than attempt to refill a prescription or get a new pack from the clinic.  Make things easier on yourself and come prepared.
Can I start birth control pills while at BMT?  I don't believe they will give you an appointment so that you can be put on birth control while at BMT.  You'll have this opportunity at tech school, if you so desire.  The clinic at Keesler had weekly designated information meetings for Airmen that wanted to start using birth control pills.

Should I use my birth control pills to skip my period while at BMT?  Your choice, you know your body best and if this method is generally successful for you.  Having a period while at BMT wasn't that big of a deal, although you will have to be proficient at changing your products in a speedy manner.  When you have a ten minute break during classes to march to the dorm, run upstairs, put 50 trainees through six stalls, and be back on time, that doesn't give you a lot of time to take care of your feminine needs.  Make it snappy, you've probably got five other females standing outside the door, waiting to pee.

Where will I dispose of used products?  There's a red trash can in the latrine, with a stack of small wax paper bags nearby.  When you need to change, grab a bag, plop your used item in it, and dispose of it properly in the red trash can.  Do not use the regular trash can to dispose of pads or tampons.  You can get dinged on an inspection because of this.

Hope this helps answer everyone's questions!  Again, if I didn't address your concern, please let me know in the comments below!

26 comments:

Natalia said...

Great post. One of those topics no one discusses in the Military but it's incredibly important! Like most females at Basic, my periods stopped, which was super convenient during training.

Mrs. Wookie said...

That's one thing I didn't inherit from my mother - she's very modest about 'the time of the month.' I see it as a need to apologize for being bitch to Mr. W as sometimes I'm a little outta whack (like this morning - oh man). I owe him.... :)

Elizabeth said...

I had mine the day before I left, and didn't have one again for 8 weeks. Your body goes through so many changes and stress it kind of shuts off that female department. When you're working out sooo much and so hard, your body can skip.

bibliophile21 said...

So glad you covered this topic!! I was curious, especially about the birth control issue (I've been on it for years and am spoiled). Thank you for the information :)

Mrs. Duh said...

This is a great choice of topic! I have asked my MTI hubby some of these questions, just because I'm curious about how the ladies handle the period thing. Especially with a male MTI, it might feel a little intimidating of bring it up.

Candi said...

Another worry is the "surprise" period hitting you and going unchecked. The Vlogger said to relax. They are pushing fluids on you to the point that everyone has to pee practically every hour. Even a surprise won't go unnoticed very long.

Husaib said...

Don't stress about it, we've all been there. You won't have time to soak your underwear, like you might at home, although you may be able to rinse it out for a bit before putting it in your mesh bag (and then a plastic bag). https://www.carlmontpharmacy.com

War_inmy_Head said...

Can we bring "the patch" or does it have to be the pill specifically?

Erin said...

@War_inmy_Head - the patch should be fine! I don't remember if any of my flight members were on the patch, but I wouldn't think they'd have an issue with it if they accept the pill.

Vivian Dunson said...

So, question! If we already know 1 box won't be enough, can we bring a small case, like a square pencil box, filled with what we do need?

Erin said...

@Vivian Dunson - Yes, that'd be fine! You'll just have to put it in the back of your security drawer.

Felisa Diaz said...

I am leaving in a couple of weeks and will be on the same situation as @Elizabeth ... except my period is scheduled to arrive that same day I leave. I know zero week is probably the most hectic, confusing and stressful week so:
1) Would there be enough bathrooms around the processing areas?
2) In case I am in pain while at the airport or before leaving, would it be safe to take a Midol pill so I can stand all the demanding loud "MOVE! QUICK! DROP YOUR BAGS- PICK THEM UP's?"... or would that be a problem when they do the urinalysis?

Erin said...

@Felisa Diaz - Yes, there are bathrooms that you can use in the reception building. It might be a little intimidating to use them at times, but they are there! I'm not entirely sure how long Midol stays in the body or how it would affect your chemistry. I personally chose to wean myself off those pain pills, knowing they wouldn't be an option at BMT. If nothing else, you could explain to the urinalysis folks that you've taken one and hope for the best, or call a pharmacist/your doctor and see if they'd be an issue. Good luck!

Jaleesa Davis said...

i know i asked this on the other post, but i figured i'd ask it on the appropriate section. will they administer the depo shot (birth control shot) at basic? i have a prescription and it's on my medical file, but i'm still not sure.

Erin said...

@Jaleesa Davis - I'm not entirely sure. You could certainly bring your prescription and try!

Kelsey said...

What's the "cup"?

Erin said...

@Kelsey - A Diva Cup; a silicone reusable menstrual cup. http://divacup.com

Kim Baltish said...

If u start ur period while ur in the training, can u tell ur MTI if u can leave and come back?? Cuz I guess... im so used to harsh environment and training at my place... I dont usually go over stress... and I have my periods haha I get stressed if I don't get periods... oh and yeah.. I really really have bad cramps... can u call a sick day?? Like.. I mean... if I have bad cramp days... I sometimes throw up and... I can barely move sometimes cuz of the pain

Erin said...

@Kim Baltish - You're able to use the latrine as needed, and carry supplies on you. As for "sick days," nope, unless you go to the clinic and they put you on bed rest, which is unlikely for something as minor as cramps. You can ask to go to sick call for a "pain pack," but that's about it.

Aunie said...

This might be totally TMI but how did you manage to clean your cup privately? Or was that something that didn't bother you to do in front of people?

Erin said...

@Aunie - I typically dump in a latrine stall, wipe out with paper, and then clean in the sink later. It probably didn't bother me much - I don't remember it doing so, anyway. ;)

Ashley Garcia said...
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Ashley Garcia said...
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Ashley Garcia said...

Im scared i get baaad heavy cramps.....how will i deal?

Erin said...

@Ashley - You just will, because you have no option. See my replies above. Ideally, start "weaning" yourself off pain meds before you go.

Leah said...

Random, but do we have to go through a PAP/full exam while going through medical at BMT or tech?