In addition to the expected challenges of competing on a show like “Survivor,” women face the added stress of handling menstrual cramps, mood swings, and bleeding while in the middle of nowhere.
Several former contestants spoke to Insider about caring for oneself while competing on their periods, revealing that while some accommodations are made, that time of the month was still a stressor for most women on the show.
Elaine Stott of “Survivor: Island of the Idols” shared that production asks contestants to submit necessities in advance, which are then locked away in an off-camera medical box in the woods. The box can include items such as tampons, contact lenses, sunscreen, bug spray or medicine.
She added that producers only allowed players to approach the box one at a time, to avoid any secret, off-camera strategizing.
“If you needed any of that stuff, you could just go to the med box,” Stott said.
For one contestant, however, the number of tampons requested simply wasn’t enough, as she got her period twice during filming.
“I was ending my period the first day that we started, so then I actually had my period again there,” said “Survivor: Island of the Idols” castaway Lauren-Ashley Beck. “I’m just bleeding, and I go to one of the producers and say, ‘Can you please get a tampon?’”
She claims “about 24 hours” went by before a producer returned with sanitary products, as they had to venture into a nearby village to restock.
Three-time “Survivor” castaway Andrea Boehlke added that it was difficult to “feel clean,” as they were not allowed to use soap on the island or change their underwear.
“It sucks to change your tampon out in the jungle next to a med box with no supplies or way to fully clean yourself,” she said. “It’s pretty gnarly.”
Player Karishma Patel was also concerned with her hygiene, saying she wondered if sharks could be a problem while the women bathed and washed their clothes in the ocean.
“You know, there’s sharks in there,” she said. “We don’t need to spell it out, but it’s pretty scary.”
The group also discussed experiencing heightened PMS symptoms during the competition.
“You’re hormonal, and you’re also getting extreme levels of fatigue,” Patel said, with Beck adding, “Periods, in general, are hard to deal with, even when you’re not starving on an island and you have an actual bathroom and toilet paper.”