As far as I know, there isn’t a Girl Scout badge for GRUESOME PERIOD STORY, but there really should be, because basically all adult ladies would earn it at some point in their menstruating lives. To be a period-having woman is to endure occasional, if not frequent, public embarrassment, because try as we might, there is no outsmarting mother nature’s monthly gift.
Cosmo spoke with 10 women about their most epic and awkward period tales so you can feel a little bit better about your own, and know you’re in good company next time you bleed through your white skinny jeans.
1. ‘One time I was playing an outdoor show and I was wearing a short skirt. My period came early, and unfortunately, in the middle of the set. I had to ask for a chair because I couldn’t leave the stage and it was BAD. I got my friend to put my guitar in the case and then I carried my guitar off stage in front of it. There was a huge spot on my butt. I borrowed a pair of pants and cleaned up and it was OK.’ —Eden, 24
2. ‘At the top of Volcán Mombacho in Nicaragua, I got the feeling. You know, the if I don’t dump my Diva Cup I’m going to erupt like this volcano feeling. I found a no-flush toilet in the visitor’s center, took care of business, and then realized there was no toilet paper, the plumbing was out in the sink, my Nalgene was outside with my friends. If anyone noticed my terrifyingly bloody hands when I emerged, well, they were polite enough not to say anything.’—Audrey, 25
3. ‘I once unexpectedly got my period during sex at a hotel. I freaked out and had to tell my then-boyfriend after I’d realized it, because the bed looked like a murder scene. In trying to make me feel better, he offered to go down the hall, get a Diet Coke and pour it all over the bed. Presumably to cover the traces? I shut down that idea because while hilarious, it was definitely the worst idea ever.’ —Ellen, 28
4. ‘I was on vacation with my now fiancé — we’d been dating for less than a year and he came along on a work trip . I get the worst periods and I had mine then. I woke up in our hotel bed (whitest of white sheets) and realized I’d completely bled through my PJs. Miracle of miracles, nothing got on the sheets, and I didn’t wake my then-boyfriend. I silently changed out of and washed my PJ shorts, stashing them in my suitcase so he wouldn’t get as grossed out as I was. I had to sleep half naked (gross when you have your period) the rest of the trip because I’d only packed one pair of PJ shorts.’—Emily, 29
5. ‘I was at my not-yet-boyfriend’s place, and had like 20 minutes to kill before some other friends came over. I knew my period was looming eminently, but I didn’t say anything about it because 1.) spontaneous quickies are fun! This is a new relationship and I’m the ‘cool girl’ ! I don’t even get periods ha ha! and 2.) I’d had messy mid-period sex before, so I knew that if anything happened now, there was NO WAY it would be as messy, right? So he starts going down on me, and it all feels great and normal, until I finish and he looks up and the entire bottom half of his face is covered in blood. I gasped and yelled DON’T MOVE DON’T LOOK, so of course he looks and is horrified. Not to mention I basically left a snail-trail on his perfectly white carpet. I was ready to crawl into a pit, possibly forever, but he laughed it off. We spent the next ten minutes scrubbing the carpet and Googling the effects of potentially ingesting period blood. Moral of the story: if you want to know if a man is really worth keeping around, maybe just bleed on his face?’—Julia, 21
6. ‘In my office we have a set of old, worn out couches that no one likes. Recently, what is clearly a period stain showed up on one of the sections and everyone’s silent reaction to seeing the stain has been the same — no one has explicitly said “what the fuck is that” but every woman who has noticed it has had a look of terror. I think we’re all horrified that we’re the one who left the stain (or maybe that’s just me and my constant uncertainty about everything). I’ve thought about staying late one day and taking some stain remover to it, but I’m scared I’ll get caught cleaning it and be pinned as The Stainer. Also we’ve put in several requests in the past to get new couches so I think we’re all just hoping the couches will be replaced soon.’—Lia, 23
7. ‘I had just started using the Diva Cup (PRAISE BE) and was getting ready to take it out and dump it before an office party when I realized my vagina like… ate the Diva Cup. Like it was wayyyyyy up in there and I was freaking out. Luckily a good friend and fellow menstrual cup user was in the bathroom at the same time (we were at the office) and she came into the public restroom stall with me and instructed me through basically giving birth to my menstrual cup. There were lots of other women in the bathroom at the same time, all primping before the party, and they heard the whole thing and I never spoke of it ever again.’ —Heather, 22
8. ‘I’d just gone off my birth control and didn’t know when to expect my first period post-BC. It came right when I was taking a major test. I had just sat down and started the exam and very suddenly felt a drastic change in my body, and I knew exactly what it was. I was in a testing center that didn’t allow you to take a break and come back to the test for fear of cheating, so I had to endure an hour of distracted testing hoping I wasn’t making a mess. But about halfway through, I could tell I was severely leaking. By the time I finished my exam I didn’t even want to go to the bathroom to see the damage, I just wanted to get back to my apartment to change my clothes before it got any worse. I walked about half a mile from the testing center to my apartment, and I altered my walk the whole way because I felt like I had to hold my kegels tight to keep the flood gates from spewing, but I doubt that helped. I was so relieved when I finally got to sit on the toilet. My underwear and jeans were soaked with blood. I took a shower to get clean, and when I got out I suddenly started bleeding again, all over the bathroom floor. As I was cleaning it, my roommate knocked on the door and needed to pee really badly, so I hurried and cleaned the blood, hid my bloody clothes under my towel that was wrapped around me, and grabbed a wad of toilet paper to put in between my legs, and waddled out of the bathroom.’ —Alyssa, 23
9. ‘I’m a cocktail waitress at a very popular bar. We are an all female waitstaff, and when I spent enough time at work our cycles synced up. I got my period out of nowhere during a busy Friday night so my coworker gave me a tampon. Before I could take care of business I got another table full of frat boys. I walked over to them and, instead of pulling a pen out of my apron, I pulled out a tampon and started to use it like a pen. I was mortified.’ —Jojo, 23
10. ‘The guy I’ve been seeing came over and like JUMPED on me, and I guess his phone was in his pocket when we were taking off our clothes because it somehow got underneath my ass. I told him I might be bleeding a little, but it didn’t look like anything had happened. So then I rolled over and his phone fell on the floor, and there was a FAIR amount of blood on my ass/the back part of my body. At first I thought maybe I’d broken his phone, and he didn’t have his glasses on and said “No it’s just greasy.” I went to clean up and when I came back he was like “actually that was blood all over my phone.” But it was fine and the phone survived! Apple products are immune to feminine wiles, great work Steve Jobs.’ —Sarah, 23
This article was originally published on Cosmopolitan.com