**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!