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!   photo air force bmt packing list
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 a perfect size.

photo air force Period Problem

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 the 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, as 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).

photo air force female Period Problem

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 menstrual 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.

air force female Period Problem

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!



  • Nataliasaid

    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 Wookiesaid

    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…. 🙂

  • Elizabethsaid

    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.

  • bibliophile21said

    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 Duhsaid

    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.

  • Candisaid

    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.

  • Erinsaid

    @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 Dunsonsaid

    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?

  • Erinsaid

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

  • Felisa Diazsaid

    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?

  • Erinsaid

    @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 Davissaid

    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.

  • Kim Baltishsaid

    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

  • Erinsaid

    @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.

  • Auniesaid

    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?

  • Erinsaid

    @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. 😉

  • Erinsaid

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

  • Unknownsaid

    I use nuvaring as my birth control and it has to be refrigerated before use since it activates at body temp, I got a copy of my script to take down to bmt. Will it be an issue getting this? I have been on it 3 years and dont wanna mess up my cycle.

  • Erinsaid

    @Leah – Nope, never. Not like a typical civilian pap/women's annual.@Unknown – I can't entirely say, because the refrigeration complicates things. Try asking in Air Force WingMoms, on their boards, to see if anyone has been successful with one down there. Good luck to you!

  • Erinsaid

    @Erika S. – If it's really bad and you're away from the dorms, you could always explain to your MTI (who will most likely not want to hear it), and then go back with a buddy to the dorms. They were really good about allowing us to go to the bathroom during class, although I don't think I ever did. There are portapotties out by the PT pads, just in case. Pads are going to be a little bit more complicated, especially because they're so bulky, but the same rules apply. Carry what you need on you and take care of business as needed. Good luck!

  • Diamond Asaid

    Hi Erika! Thank you so so much for writing this, I really needed it. I didn't see a question about this before but how was it showering while on your period? It's my understanding that everyone showers together, does that get weird?

  • Erinsaid

    @Diamond A. – I didn't have any issues, or notice any icky-ness. Then again, I also used a menstrual cup. I'm assuming most folks used tampons, so it was a non-issue.

  • Unknownsaid

    How often does the MTI let you go to the bathroom? I'm afraid I'll get one that won't let us go to the bathroom and I will bleed through my Abu's. Is there a bathroom when you go to beast week? I know these sound stupid but I'm just curious

  • Erinsaid

    @Unknown – They don't limit you on bathroom breaks, or restrict frequency. Yes, there's one at BEAST, so you'll have access there as well. Bathroom breaks are one of those basic needs they don't/can't take away from you.

  • Sarah Williamssaid

    I have a question about the diva cup, if I decided to use one, is there time to rinse it out???

  • Erinsaid

    @Erika S. – It's not far from the showers to the dressing area – probably 6 feet or so. I think you'd be fine. The bathroom is close by as well. If you have a really bad stain on your pants, they would be "unserviceable," and you'd have to get new ones. Hopefully that doesn't happen to you!@Sarah Williams – Yes, I had time in the evening.

  • Crystalsaid

    I've watched the videos about the older dorms at BMT having only six shower heads and the newer dorms having 25. I'm not really hung up on that, besides the fact that on your period during shower time… I think you know where I'm going with this. If there's roughly 50 girls to 6 shower heads how does that work if you have a heavy menstrual cycle?? Yes it runs down and I have no problems with blood but as far as others being around mine I'm not so sure. Do you keep the cup or tampon in until after shower time?? I'm curious as to how this works.

  • Alison Powerssaid

    I leave for Basic on January 10th and I just had a meeting with my recruiter and told him I was on birth control and he said they may or may not let me stay on it. Is he correct? He's a newer recruiter so maybe he doesn't know how the female side work? 🙁 concerned!

  • Erinsaid

    @Alison Powers – I totally missed this question before you left and I deployed, so I'm sorry. That sounds incorrect to me, for sure. Everyone that was on it down there had no issues when I went through.

  • ChintyUR1said

    My recruiter also told me I wouldn't be able to take birth control and I'm really worried! When I was off it I'd have bad menstrual cramps and throw up so I'm hoping he's wrong! Has anyone gone recently who knows about this?

  • Erinsaid

    @ChintyUR1 – Yes, you can take it. If you want the most current, up-to-date info, try asking in the Air Force WingMoms forums. Even if you take it and they say no, it'll stay in your civilian luggage, but it really shouldn't be a problem.

  • Amy cakessaid

    This is a shot in the dark question… I take Armour Thyroid, it's a specific thyroid medication. I made it through MEPS with current thyroid tests, and they were given my specific thyroid medication Rx. If they do not carry this medication at the formulary at Lackland, would they allow me to take my Rx with a current prescription and/or a letter from my doc explaining that I need this specific type of thyroid med, rather than re-issuing me a different thyroid medication? Just curious; someone you may know might've gone through something like this… I leave March 28th!

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  • Decie

    It’s been a while since anyone commented. I’m extremely worried about my flow because it’s ridiculously heavy. I need to use both a super tampon + a pad when I’m on my period in order to prevent leakage, and even then it is a major worry. Anything you can share to ease my anxiety? I talked to a recruiter last week and am excited for the opportunities ahead…. But really hating being a woman right now lol