Does Menstruation Attract Bears?

I’m wondering: Does menstruation attract bears? Also, is it ok for women to wear hormone patches while backpacking/camping in bear country? Can bears smell menstruation? Or will a bear be attracted to the scent of the patch?

Would it be better to take hormone pills for that time?

Thanks!

Answer

Hi Judy,

Wow! What a great question! To be perfectly honest, I had absolutely no idea what the answer to this question may be.

Of course I’d read some things about it and seen movies that discussed it in humorous ways, but I never really knew.

So, thanks to your question, I did a little research and found out the truth!

Does Menstruation Attract Bears?

First of all, there is no scientific indication that bear attacks in national parks have ever been linked to menstruation. It’s proven that black bears are definitely not attracted by the odor and grizzly bears don’t seem to be especially fascinated by it either.

In fact, the only bears that are actually known to be attracted to menstruating women are polar bears, and there sure aren’t many of those in Glacier National Park!

But your question is about the hormone patch. The honest-to-god truth of the matter is that no one knows. Bears are attracted to certain odors, yes, but by no means all of them.

Most experts agree that it is largely food and odorous toiletries that attract bears the most, and not little things like patches, pills, or clothing.

To be safe, though, I would say go with the pills. There’s no reason to think a bear would come after you for wearing a hormone patch, but neither is there a reason for you to take any kind of chance, no matter how miniscule it may be.

Staying Safe in Grizzly Bear Habitat

However, whether you’re wearing a patch, taking a pill, or doing neither of those things, it’s good to know a little bit about the basics of dealing with curious or aggressive black bears and grizzlies. Glacier National Park is grizzly bear habitat, so remember to take the following precautions when hiking to avoid a grizzly bear attack.

Here’s a quick summary:

  • Make Noise — The worst thing you can do is surprise a bear. By talking and making noise while turning corners on the trail, you’re essentially warning the wildlife of your presence so they can get out of the way before becoming scared and aggressive.
  • No Eye Contact — If you do happen to encounter a bear, do not make eye contact. This is perceived as an act of aggression and will make the bear more likely to attack.
  • Get Small — If you look smaller and less threatening, a bear is less likely to go after you. If you meet a bear, lower your gaze, turn sideways, and start to walk backward very slowly. If the bear continues to advance, use your bear spray. If you do not have bear spray, lie down on your stomach and curl into the fetal position, with your knees up at your chest, and protect your head and neck.

Most bears, even when they’re angry, are just trying to put on a show. They want you to see how terrifying they are, even though they may be more scared than you are.

Therefore, many attacks will be mock attacks, with the bear only pretending to go after you. Still, get small, get low, and show them that it’s not worth their time to attack.

I wish there was more scientific evidence to answer your question about the hormone patch! But, you know what? Like the wise ones say: it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Go with the pills and hope that if you ever do encounter a bear, it’s from a safe distance, where you can watch how majestic and truly awesome they are, without either of you becoming scared.

If you do encounter a grizzly, be sure to stop back and share your story!

~ Perry

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Nov 29, 2011

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Canada says yes on menstration

by: josey wales

The canadian park service used to issue a pamphlet to visitors…expressly warning the facts that both menstration and sexual intercourse attract bears . I read this in Jasper National Park when I visited over 30 years ago .


Nov 29, 2011

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Canada says yes on menstration

by: josey wales


The canadian park service used to issue a pamphlet to visitors…expressly warning the facts that both menstration and sexual intercourse attract bears . I read this in Jasper National Park when I visited over 30 years ago .


Sep 21, 2011

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Sorry for the delay

by: Perry


Hi Judy,

Sorry for the delay in response. We get about 5 questions asked everyday and have over 50 questions backlogged to get to.

Glad everything worked out well for you!

~ Perry


Sep 21, 2011

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Thanks for being honest

by: Judy


Well the answer to my question came a little late. I was just in Yellowstone and the backcountry of the Grand Tetons. Prior to going I asked several people about the hormone patch and nobody knew the answer so I wore it. I had no problems while I was there but I did not see a bear either. We were extremely cautious while we were there. Our bear vaults were never touched. We put all the food in our bear vaults in oder proof bags. We also kept very little in our tent. So I’m happy to say that all worked out well for me.

I’ve been in black bear country several times and never had an issue with the patch.

I’ll keep you posted.

Thanks giving me an honest answer!


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Comments

  1. I don’t think I would trust pre-study information from 30 years ago.

    • Perry Rosenbloom says:

      I agree, Erin.

      However, latex condoms DO attract bears. That odor is something they certainly can pick up on. Something to consider…

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