We, women, are never celebrating when it is that time of the month again. But when traveling, our periods become even less wanted. At home, you can curl up underneath a blanket, use heated pads, and eat chocolate until the worst part is over. But in Greece, you often don’t want to lose a day to our monthly call of nature. Instead, you want to be able to enjoy nature! Here are some tips on how to deal with a period when traveling, as well as what to expect regarding your period in Greece.
Traveling with your period
In the past ten years, I always ensured I would not have my period during any of my holidays. I was using birth control pills, and when abroad, I just continued taking them until I returned. However, in the past years, I decided to get rid of any form of medication. And although this made me feel better, it also came with uncontrollable and heavy flows, even when I’m abroad.
In Greece, I want to continuously explore the country’s beauty, swim daily, and never stop being on the road. But besides the cramps and back pain that come with my periods, I also regularly had to find a proper toilet and carry a bag of sanitary products with me. The freedom that I should feel while traveling got limited. I was living on a timer set by my tampon. Just because of the nature of being a woman. And I hated it!
A year ago, I discovered the menstrual cup. A funnel-shaped silicone cup that is inserted like a tampon but can hold the blood for 8 to 12 hours.
The menstrual cup gave me a new kind of freedom during my periods abroad. Twice a day, I have a shower to empty, clean, and re-insert it. In the meantime, however, I am completely free and don’t have to think about my period. There is no longer a continuous clock ticking if I don’t want to walk around with a red stain or smell. The cup holds long enough for me to live and travel as I would on any other day of the month. Besides, the menstrual cup takes up much less space in my luggage compared to non-reusable sanitary products. Easy to fit in a backpack, even when I’m planning to leave for a year.
I am personally a huge fan of the former OrganiCup, now AllMatters. They are available in different sizes, and if you pick the wrong one at the beginning, you can simply contact the store and they will send you a new size, or a refund.
If you order through this link, you will support me to keep writing!
Tips for using a menstrual cup
Don’t buy a menstrual cup to just put in your suitcase and use it abroad. I can almost guarantee that the first time you use one will feel strange and messy. The first time, I was afraid I had lost the cup, and when I finally found it again, my entire shower was red.
It takes some time to get used to a menstrual cup, and it is better to practice using it at home. Youtube videos and the website of the product you choose, can be of great help and are necessary. However, when you find you’re way, it will be worth the effort! And it won’t take long until you get there.
Sanitary products in Greece
For women who use more traditional ways of feminine hygiene, there are a couple of things to consider when going to Greece. Although Greece is part of the European Union, when it comes to periods, the country knows big differences with, for example, the Netherlands or France. When looking for female hygiene products in Greece, the options are limited. You can find aisles and shelves full of sanitary napkins at pharmacies and supermarkets. But where are the other products?
Menstrual panties and cups are unknown to Greek women. But even stranger is that tampons are scarce in this country. Some shops will offer 1 or 2 boxes. However, throughout the whole country, you will not find a proper selection of tampons. Kind of like you’re going 50 years back in time.
Greek women and their periods
Greek women mostly use sanitary pads during their periods. The young ones as well as the old. Greek friends of mine, for example, will not swim for a week when getting their period during a holiday. They uses sanitary napkins, as they learned from their mothers and grandmothers. And for them, a period means that they are limited in what they can do.
I once heard the Greek belief that tampons are less hygienic than sanitary pads. Supposedly because the menstrual blood stays inside when using a tampon. Causing infections or other problems. The fact that the rest of the world proves that no bad things happen when using a tampon doesn’t matter in Greece. The Greeks are stubborn and traditional, and this is what you notice in their stores.
Bring your own products
Unless you are a big fan of sanitary pads, I advise you to bring your own period products when traveling to Greece. Chances you will find your favorite (or any) tampon are just too small. And menstrual cups and panties are nowhere in the country.
If you want to keep exploring Greece during your period, you might need painkillers on the first heavy days. Although it is a good idea to take the product you usually use with you, Greece has some pretty good products available as well. However, many medicines in Greece are named by brand names instead of by active ingredients. Here is a quick overview of some painkillers that can help you to get through your period in Greece.
- Algofren – this is an ibuprofen
- Depon – a paracetamol
- Salospir – an aspirin
These painkillers are available at Greek pharmacies. Usually, you will not need a prescription to get them.
How travel can affect your period
The final tip on traveling in Greece and your period is to not worry if you notice a change in your menstrual cycle. Life changes can affect your period, and traveling is a big change. Jet lags, less sleep, a change in diet, stress, or exercise can all affect your cycle. During my first months in Greece this year, I actually had a 10 day period every 2 weeks. Luckily my body adjusted after the third one and now I am back on my regular cycle, but unfortunately, changes like these are normal when we change our environment.
So when you’re late (or early) during your stay in Greece, don’t worry too much. There is a big chance that it is just your body’s reaction to the change in your daily schedule. However, when you’re two weeks late or notice any other severe change you might want to contact a gynecologist.
Frequently asked questions
In Greek, a period is called períodos, which you pronounce like per-ee-o-dos. A tampon is just a tampon in Greek.
You can buy sanitary products in Greece at pharmacies, supermarkets, and mini-markets. For more options, there are big warehouses with make-up and other hygiene products you can go to. However, these are only available in the cities.
Greek women are extremely helpful when you have your period. It is not taboo to talk about the female call of nature, and when you need help, they will openly discuss things with you. Men, however, can be slightly uncomfortable, but they will never refuse to help you either.
Algofren – this is an ibuprofen
Depon – a paracetamol
Salospir – an aspirin
Greek women mostly use sanitary napkins and these are most common to find in Greece. There will be a small selection of tampons as well but limited to just 1 or 2 options. Menstrual cups or panties are difficult to find in the country.
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