"A few years ago, I went to Chicago for a national conference for an organization I was a part of in college. I was the only representative from my school, so I was put in a hotel room with two strangers from another school to save costs. It was my second month of using a menstrual cup, and since the first month went really well I wasn't worried about having a period fail in an unfamiliar place. I didn't pack a spare pair of underwear or tampons/pads in case things went wrong, so of course, things went VERY wrong. I woke up at 5am in the all white hotel bed to find that my cup had not been doing its job all night. As quietly as I could, with the girls I had just met sleeping just a few feet across the room, I went back and forth from the bathroom sink with cold water-soaked washcloths to clean up the bed as best as I could. When it no longer looked like a crime scene, I went to work on my pajamas, leaving them dripping wet hanging from the back of the bathroom door. I realized I had no spare underwear and just one pair of jeans for the weekend, so I had to take my chances with the cup again while I ran out into the unfamiliar city at the crack of dawn in search of an open store for backup. The whole morning was one big period fail, but luckily I got away with being the only one to know about the issue! " -NC, Washington, DC
"After years of using a menstrual cup, one night I woke up in the middle of the night to empty it. For some reason, in my sleepy state, instead of emptying it into the toilet like I normally do, I twisted my wrist the other way and dumped a cup full of blood all over my pyjama bottoms and underwear. I'd just started dating someone who was asleep in my bed and l wasn't sure how he'd react, so I had to silently rinse out my clothes, mop the bathroom floor, and jump in the shower, all while trying to keep a curious kitten from running into the bathroom to investigate. However much blood you're imagining in this scene, there was more." -LM, Montreal, Canada
"I was living in Chicago, without a car so I relied on public transportation. I left home to go to school and, because of the heavy flow period I was having, fortified my crotch with a super plus pad and super plus tampon. Halfway into the train ride to school I felt the damn give way. I could feel blood seeping down my legs. I got off at the next stop to find a bathroom, grateful that I had worn black leggings, a long black top and a navy blue knee length coat. I quickly ran to a restaurant, went in the bathroom and stuffed almost an entire roll of toilet paper between my legs since I was out of period supplies. Got back on the train and went home because my leggings were soaked down to the knees (which no one could thankfully see) and the flow showed no signs of stopping. By the time I got home the toilet paper bundle has outlived it's usefulness. I went right into the bathroom, took off my shoes, which had blood in them by now, and got into the shower with all my clothes on. But at least I made it home and no one was the wiser due to my choice of outfit that day. It was a win in my book, it could have been so much worse and at that point it just seemed funny to me so I got to have a good laugh." -MI, Northampton, Massachusetts
"When I was thirteen, I was on the local swim team, so learning how to use tampons was a priority. I went through over half a box before I finally inserted one properly. Swim practice was worry free! How amazing! Then the trouble started. I couldn't get it out. I tried repeatedly for two days before I finally, terrified, went to my mother. She took me to a gynecologist who had a nurse hold my hand while she ripped the tampon out of me. At thirteen, I was still a virgin with an intact hymen. When the tampon expanded inside it became to large to exit easily. I'm sure my scream was heard throughout the office and terrified the other patients. " -SB, Madera, california
"First period, and not a gentle one. Jake Johnson (not his real name, of course), my junior high sweetheart, and a few of our friends were at the lake on one of our sweltering summer days. I was in my favorite white two piece. Jake was shirtless. Someone suggested we play chicken, the game where a girl sits on a guy's shoulders and tries to knock another girl off her partner. Maybe ten minutes into the game, and a couple of falls into the water, I notice Jake's neck is bleeding and blood is dripping down his back. After a dunk in the lake, no one can find where the blood is coming from, until I get out of the water. " -AMH, Ashland, Oregon
"I had this huge crush on this guy and we were going to hang out together alone for one of the first times. I searched my closet over and over to find the perfect clothing and finally settled on a white dress. The day went amazingly, and we ended up going back to his place to watch a movie. It wasn't until I got home that I noticed the huge splotch of blood on my dress, which assuredly got all over his bed. He never mentioned it (though thinnest day when I was back his sheets had been changed), the dress was saved with some quick action and strong stain remover, and we've been dating for almost a year. " -GH, Tampa, FL
"Gymnastics competition I'm 15, my period was always weird due to PCOS. It's not due for 2 more weeks. It shows up in the middle of my floor routine, I land back handsprings and my twist. Upon standing there I feel it running down my leg. They had to clean the mat after me. I hide in the bathroom crying. " -FG, Orlando Florida
"When I was thirteen I finally started menstruating, much to my chagrin. I was too embarrassed to tell my mom that I had reached womanhood, and managed to hide my period for months by "stealing" her pads. She only discovered that I was menstruating when she found bloody socks in the laundry, which I was using because the pads were all gone. " -JC, Saratoga Springs, NY
"I was visiting a high school to see if I wanted to go there, I was shadowing a student. Lucky me, I was apparently due to get my first period! I bled through my pants, thanks to the weather I had a jacket that wasn't too heavy to tie around my waist.
But because of the torrent of womanhood coarsing from my uterus I bled through the wads of toilet paper I had stuffed in my underwear AND the tampon the girl I was shadowing gave me, and I almost bled through the jacket.
Needless to say I did not end up going to that school for my high school career." -R K, Philadelphia
"I was teaching a class and sitting on the desk with my legs open. One of my students said "You shouldn't sit like that." About to reply in a huff, I looked down and my pants were bright red. Luckily my husband was home and brought me a change of clothing. " -DJB, Saskatoon Saskatchewan
"I was a senior at a small rural high school in California and had finally worked up the courage to play football. No girl had ever played football at my high school so this was a really big deal and attracted a lot of unwanted attention, some of it supportive, but a lot of it misogynistic, making it the worst possible setting for a #periodfail. Before the season began, I was supposed to participate in weight lifting at the school gym to prepare for the season. I had spent a lot of time weight lifting to train for track and field and told myself to just pretend to be one of the guys the first time I entered the weight room where the team was working out. I happened to be on my period and had a really heavy period the first two days, but I thought I was being really careful. I spent about 45 minutes in the weight room and thought it went really well. No one said anything mean and I worked just as hard as the guys. When I got out, I went to the women's restroom only to discover that my butt was covered in blood, which meant that every piece of equipment I had used was covered in blood. I was so mortified that I almost decided to quit football then and there, but a teacher convinced me that high school boys would be more embarrassed about the incident than I was and wouldn't say anything to me. Sure enough, they never did, and I survived the football season. But I cringe every time I think about that, and despite the fact that it's been more than a decade, I still think about that day often. " -AS, Seattle, Washington
"When I was 20, I worked at an electronics store in the computer department. As part of my uniform I was required to wear khakis, which is where my #periodfail begins.
As I walked to the computer warehouse to obtain a tablet for a customer, I felt the familiar warm, seeping sensation below. "Oh no," I whispered. I looked down to see Aunt Flo was particularly unforgiving this month. My pants were saturated red from FRONT to BACK. There was no way I could leave the warehouse without attracting attention to the bloody scene below.
"Ms. Sharon, you're needed in the computer warehouse immediately," I shakily stated into my headset. Expecting some sort of electronics disaster, Sharon, the only other woman in the store, rushed to the scene. "I got my period," I said meekly, indicating the horrible mess all over the front and back of my pants. Her eyes widened. "We need to get you out of here," she whispered.
We were able to find some binders laying around in the warehouse and I held one in front of me while she walked behind me holding a binder at my behind. I'm sure it looked bizarre because it certainly felt bizarre, walking through the giant store, clutching your thighs together and a binder in front while a sympathetic middle-aged woman you rarely interacted with covered your backside.
Fortunately, I had a spare set of clothing in the break room because I needed to go directly to school from work. I managed to change my clothes and rushed to the store across the street in order to purchase some feminine products and a new pair of khakis to finish my shift.
I cleaned myself up and had a fresh pair of pants on within 20 minutes and returned to work in order to finish my shift. My manager looked at me with confusion. "I thought Sharon said you had a family emergency?" He asked. "Ugh... well I did have an emergency..." I stated, shuffling awkwardly in my new khakis. He looked down and saw I clearly had a different pair of pants on than 20 minutes prior. I think I may have given myself away. " -SEL, Starkville, MS
"I reconnected with my best childhood friend and spent the night at her house, we were going camping the next day with several of her family members. The morning we were going to leave I started my period without noticing and sat on one of their kitchen chairs. It was a floral felt seat that was covered in plastic but to my luck I bled on the only part of the chair that wasn't covered with the plastic. I didn't tell anyone... #periodfail oh and I haven't hung out with that friend since. " -HJF, Seattle, Washington
"I was 15 and hanging out at my boyfriend's house on a weekend. His dad and sister and my mom were there, and we were all having a nice brunch. I knew I was on my period, and so I wore big, baggy, green pants for comfort, and I really didn't like tampons at the time so I wore a pad. Little did I know that this was a "heavy flow" kind of month, so it filled up quicker than I realized.
As I sat at the top of his carpeted stairs, I thought it was time to check myself in the bathroom, but when I looked where I'd been sitting, I'd stained his beige carpet so red that I froze in place. I whispered to my mom what happened and she got me out of there as fast as she could, but there was no hiding that big, red stain, and no saving me from the humiliation. I never wore a pad again. " -K.G., COLUMBUS
"I was in middle school, and my flow was way too heavy for those little thin padd you start out with as a kid, and in teal jeans, it showed really quick. I got up to go out to the hallway with the rest of the class when a another kid says "Hey, did you poop on yourself?" Needless to say I was terrified, and it didn't get any better when I started walking away and he whispered to his friend, "I think dhe pooped on herself."
I didn't get to go home until the next class period, too." -EG, huntington, west virginia
"So, in eighth grade i was in a production of robin hood at my middle school. I played maid Marian, & i had to wear this ridiculous heavy dress. There were different actors for different acts of the play, so if you weren't in the current act you had to sit in the front row of the audience. It was the day of the first performance, at the final dress rehearsal, & I'm sitting there, waiting to go on stage when I felt a gush of blood between my legs. I couldn't do anything, & nobody at the rehearsal had anything except for a super thin panty liner. I ended up having to run home in the hour between the dress rehearsal & the performance. Luckily the dress was red. " -MN, Portland, OR
"I worked in a lab at the time and everything was white: the floors, the chairs, the walls, etc. Well I was eating my feelings in the break room during lunch, surrounded by 8 of my male colleagues, when disaster struck. I got up to grab a water bottle and on my walk back to my seat I saw the crime scene that I had left behind. There was blood all over the white floor and chair and unfortunately it wasn't enough for me to bleed out before I could die of embarrassment. I quickly snagged Lysol wipes and cleaned up the mess as my male co-workers all had the most intense staring contest with their plates in order to avoid eye contact with me. Worst period moment thus far. " -SA, Tustin, Ca
"I once walked out of my work bathroom and said "have any of you ever sneezed out your tampon?" and looked up to see my boss staring at me wide eyed and red faced, he is the only man that works with us. " -Mb, Lincoln Nebraska
"If you think period farts are awful, Just wait till you get period sharts. On a public bus. " -JJ, Texas
"I suffer from insanely irregular periods and used to not even have cramps to warn me it was coming.
The first time I met my ex husband's parents (at this point, my future in-laws), it was dinner with his entire family. I mean, all of them. After dinner, we all went in the living room to relax and chat.
That's the moment my period decided to show up. All over their LIGHT GREY couch. Of course, I didn't know it had happened until it was time to leave. I was so embarrassed that I left quickly before anyone could notice.
A week later we went back to visit his parents again, and the couch had no cushions on it. They had sent it to be reupholstered. It was never mentioned, ever.
" -CM, Waco, TX
"I was just out and about with my family at the outlet mall so I was running to catch up to my when I felt a gushing sinsation in my pant unlikely for me I was wearing white shirt and the blood started running down my legs and think god the it was late and no one noticed.So I go into the bathroom and the place is crowded when I finally got in the stall I didn't know what to do since it was the first time I had to change my menstrual cup in a public place.So when I finally got it out it slips out of my hand and blood goes flying everywhere and my cup just so happens to roll just right out the stall.I quickly grabbed it cleaned up my mess using baby wipes(I've always got a few on hand because of my baby sister)and cleaned my cup.So after all that mess I rap my jacket around my waist to cover up my bloodstains(I bought new shorts later)and I'm hipping myself to walk out this bathroom like nothing happened but right as I walked out I regretted all my life decisions.There was this 6 foot MALE janitor right outside my door just staring at me like I was insane I quickly washed my hands and started crying as I walked out the bathroom." -J.S, Centreville,Virginia
"My friends had planned a trip to the beach. Being from NYC, this was a big deal because I rarely made it out of the city, let alone to nature. The morning of the trip, I woke up with my period. I put in a tampon and put on my bikini.
While at the beach, my friends were all jumping in the water, but I was a bit nervous (again, NYC, not used to swimming). After a few hours, I realized I really needed to change my tampon. I tell a friend that I need to find a bathroom and she says "just pee in the ocean." Of course, it isn't that easy cause I need to do more. I head to the boardwalk and start walking... and walking... and walking... 20 minutes later, I finally find a port-a-potty and by this time, I've bleed through my tampon and down my legs to about knee height. I change my tampon, and try to wipe off the blood, but of course some it has dried. Again, in a port-a-potty so there is no running water. Totally embarrassed, I run out of the port-a-potty straight into the ocean.
When I finally made it back to my friends, one asked why I was soaking wet if I had just been going to the bathroom.
" -RC, Bronx, NY
"It was one of my first times using a cup. That day I got up and had to do some errands before going to work so I didn't empty my night time flow from my cup. So I get to the office and I remember, I go to the huge sing bathroom, lots of space for squatting, and as I remove my cup carefully something went wrong and ended up splashing all over the walls, the toilet, the sink, my jeans...... It's a bring your own tp kind of situation and I obviously didn't bring enough. Y ended up using my cup to splash water and try to clean that mess up. I left work early that day, so embarrassed over my #periodfail and my #cupfail " -MC, South Padre island, TX
"It was summer 2014, my very male best friend was preparing to move over to England for a year, and decided to have a farewell party at the local public pool. I ignored the telltale stain in my underwear the morning of the party, put on my swimmers without a pad or tampon and showed up with a bright smile.
Slowly, that niggling doubt set in. How could I last the day without a pad? I'd never used a tampon before, didn't have one on me, but perhaps I could ask a friend... Oh yeah, all the friends at the party were guys and very much period-less. There were parents, a couple of mums, but one of them I'd never spoken to before, and the other was my maths teacher, who I was too humiliated to approach (lesson learned: should have just asked). I decided to persevere with nothing on, stupidly.
Somehow, the day went swimmingly, so to speak. I checked periodically (no pun intended) for stains or trails in the water but none were to be seen. It was only once I exited the pool for that goodbye hug that I felt the dam walls break. I frantically wrapped my towel around my waist to hide the bloody carnage, and thought I had succeeded as I walked away to my dad's car to be taken home. My final mistake came when I turned around to wave again, and noticed the trail of bloodied footprints I had left behind me.
On the plus side, at least my friend was on another continent for a year so I didn't have to face him? We haven't talked about it to this day. " -ES, Sydney, NSW
"At age 16,I had always loved camping so when I got a chance to go for a weekend with the church, I was excited. That morning, my periods came one week early, luckily it came before I left the house so I was prepared. When we got in the bus it was packed and we sat on each other. I was excited to be seated on my crush, what I didn't anticipate was the five hour journey with no stops or the heavy flow on day one of my periods.... My crush had worn light blue jeans. All I wanted to do was shrivel and die when I got up and saw the red stain on his jeans. I had to fake an illness to leave with the bus driver. " -LA, Nairobi, Kenya
"I was on an airplane to Switzerland with an opera singer I was nannying for for five weeks while she was on tour. I had started my period the day before, and knew that my flow would be quite heavy while on the flight there. I had a pad on for extra protection and thought I might be okay, but I was wrong.
I had purposely worn black leggings and a shirt that went over my bum incase this very situation happened, but those precautions didn't help and I left a bloody stain on the airplane seat. After just running away and praying no one would notice, I quickly ran to the washroom after we got off the plane and changed my feminine protection. However I didn't have a change of clothes so remained in my dampened bloody leggings.
It gets worse.
The opera singers brother-in-law was picking us up...in his BRAND NEW TESLA. How very cool, until I had to awkwardly sit on my hands and a sweater the entire ride so that I wouldn't leave my stamp on the beige leather seats.
A tip: wear a diaper and bring spare pants.
" -AC, Nova Scotia, Canada
"I was in high school at the time and I was ALWAYS a heavy bleeder. Our classes were almost 2 hours long and the teachers hardly ever let you use the restroom during classes. I just happen to have a substitute that day and I asked him politely if I could use the restroom and he said no. I felt a "gush" which felt as though it traveled past my tampon, but since the teacher had previously declined, I sat there for about thirty minutes and I could feel my pants soaking up. I felt badly about it because it was getting all over the seat, so I sat on a piece of note book paper. I told the substitute that I REALLY needed to go to the restroom and in a very rude manner, he denied me of that privilege once again. That angered me, so (although this is not a proud moment of mine and I am quite embarrassed to say it) I pulled the paper from under my bottom, a paper that is now soaked in blood, and I showed it to the substitute. With tears from anger, frustration and embarrassment in my eyes I said, "NOW do you believe me, I NEED to go to the restroom?!" He looked both horrified and extremely disgusted and sent me on my way. I borrowed my friends sweater who happened to be a boy I had a crush on AND I had to go to the nurse and call my dad to ask him if he'd bring me a clean pair of panties and jeans. That is one day I will NEVER forget and I'm pretty sure that substitute won't either. ?" -HJ, PLANT CITY, FLORIDA
"This story is stuck like glue to my brain and I'm sure I'll be having period nightmares forever, because of it. A few years ago I regularly went to see a therapist. At the end of one of those sessions, I was deep in thought, after another heavy soul-searching convo and my therapist said we'd continue on next session. As I stood up I'll never forget how I literally started sweating when I realized I had bled all over my therapist's chair. And it wasn't just a tiny drop, it was a massacre all over the red chair cushion. Ya know one of those moment when you have a million things running through your head in a matter of seconds? Yeah, I had one of those at that exact moment. I came up with a few solutions: a)sit back down and refuse to leave, b)tell what happened or c) pick the chair up and casually walk out with it (or take off like a bat outta hell). Ultimately, I was forced to choose option b. I was very apologetic and my therapist was very understanding. I offered to clean it up but my therapist insisted I didn't have to. I'll never forget saying goodbye, with bloody pants no less, and turning around in the hallway, seeing my therapist armed with paper towels the size of a catcher's mitt and a bottle of Windex. To this day if there was something I could erase from my mind, it would the moment that I turned around. " -CA, San Jose, California
"My period started when I was in sixth grade and it took me a while to master. One day I forgot to pack extra pads for school. I was having server cramps and was feeling sick. I went to use the bathroom and when I look my bottom on my pants had blood on it, not a little dot my whole bottom. It look I sat in a butch of red paint. I quickly rapped my jacket around my waist. I called my mom to take me home since I was feeling sick. Never again will I forget to pack my pads." -E.L.S, Belleville Michigan
"I have PCOS that as a teenager was not under control. As a result I never knew when my period would show up. I was sitting in class one day and got that feeling that it had so I went to my teacher to ask to use the restroom. My (female) teacher told me no unless I wanted to make up the time in detention. I told her that I would in fact make up the time in detention and she gave me a hall pass. I wish I would have just blatantly said "my period started and I need to insert a tampon, I can do that here or in the restroom, your choice". In the end I think my teacher figured it out and let me out of detention." -EH, Peoria, IL