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Tampons in the tundra: What we can learn from the first woman to ski across Antarctica


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Photo: Stocksy/Alexey Kuzma

Not only did Felicity Aston set a world record by becoming the first woman to ski across Antarctica totally solo, but the polar explorer also backed up a widely known sentiment: Badass boss babes don’t let obstacles stand in the way of them achieving goals. Not only did Aston trek more than 1,084 miles over 59 days in 2012, but she also dealt with good, ole Aunt Flo during her record-setting expedition in the frozen tundra.

Sometimes it’s hard enough to deal with having a period in normal living conditions, so how do you handle it in sub-zero temps? That’s exactly what Aston opened up about in a recent interview with Lenny.

“All of us have been dealing with periods for many, many years, and you just kind of get on with it! I mean, it’s a little bit more extreme when you’re out at minus 40, but no more so than it is to go to the toilet.” —Felicity Aston

Aston said many Antarctic explorers choose to stop their cycle via options like injection or a hormonal pill, but since she isn’t able to use those methods, she lets nature take its course. “All of us have been dealing with periods for many, many years, and you just kind of get on with it! I mean, it’s a little bit more extreme when you’re out at minus 40 [degrees], but no more so than it is to go to the toilet,” she told Lenny.

Basically, she said organization is key, “so you’re not having to dig through a sledge in the middle of a blizzard” to find what you need. (Especially because tampons have a way of slipping to the bottom of the bag, never to be seen again.) And when it comes to going to the bathroom—yes, we’re going there!—it’s not as awful as you’d expect. While guys typically have it easier when it comes to peeing outdoors, it’s getting a little more manageable for women.

“A lot of women use these Shewee things now,” Aston said. “I’ve never really got on with them very well, so I don’t use them, but I’m always very jealous when I’m working with women who do use them, because it’s like, ‘Wow, that looks brilliant!’ not having to reveal themselves.”

“We all need to do what we need to do, and there is no getting around the fact that you will be exposed.” —Aston

Going number two, though, is a different story: “We all need to do what we need to do, and there is no getting around the fact that you will be exposed,” she said Luckily, when you’re attempting to travel across the coldest country on the planet, pooping isn’t your biggest concern—and according to Aston, it’s honestly no worse than wearing the same clothes for months.

Could frozen-tundra skiing become the new frontier of exploration for outdoorswomen already hitting the trails? If so, hopefully Shewee-like devices become more mainstream.

Always cold? Then you need this full-body, human-burrito scarf in your life. Or instead of just going outside, stock your kitchen with these food items for delicious winter meals.

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