"Taking a [poop] in the woods is funny and easy to talk about," Heather Hansman writes for Outside Magazine. "Periods are not." That why Hansman says the "one item that made the biggest difference" during a recent two-month river trip through the wilderness wasn't a tent, or knife, or bug spray—it was her IUD. In addition to being a form of birth control that's 99% effective, IUDs eliminate monthly periods for nearly half of the women who use them. Hansman didn't get her period her entire trip, and that means she didn't have to worry about finding backpack room for tampons, a place to throw them away, or a place to buy them in an emergency.
Hansman says periods are a "major factor in the mental math of the backcountry" and can be a barrier for women interested in getting out into the wilderness. IUDs can eliminate that stress. Without them, the best options for backpacking women are "carrying around a bag of tampons soaked with uterine lining" or "trying to boil your DivaCup in your group's ramen pot." None of that was probably on the minds of the senators who recently voted to block family planning funding, but Hansman argues it should have been: Half of all US women who use contraception do so to help regulate their periods. "I take my whole body into the backcountry with me, and I want to have control over all of it," Hansman writes. Read the full piece here. (Read more IUD stories.)