A recent post at Dynamic ecology referenced a long twitter discussion of menstruating in the field. What amused/horrified me was all the suggestions that we (the ladies) should just get an IUD or take a whole bunch of hormones or something to banish our periods altogether. What a strange overreaction.
I've been getting my period since I was 13, and it's really not a big deal. On days where I need them, I keep my feminine supplies and a couple of plastic baggies tucked in a pocket, and then I wrap the used item in a bunch of toilet paper, stuff it in a baggie, and dispose of it discretely in the trash. Sure, it's awkward to spend inordinate amount of time in the porta potty or communing with nature, but honestly, I've worked with a lot of guys who seem to have, uh, intestinal distress on a regular basis and everybody gets that sometimes you need to take a time out.
Menstrual cramps have been more of a problem for me than disposal or awkwardness about having to disappear much more often than usual. Luckily, I found out late in college that my cramps are directly related to poor diet, and I avoid them almost entirely most of the time. I will admit that I'm lucky that both my cramps and migraines respond readily to non-prescription medications (naproxen for cramps, excedrin with caffeine for migraines) as long as I take it as soon as symptoms hit, not once I'm doubled over with pain/nauseous.