13 women on the most inconvenient time they’ve ever gotten their period

If there’s one thing that sucks about having a uterus, it’s getting your period every month. It doesn’t check in with you to see if it’s a “good time” to stop by, or have the self-awareness to know when it’s being a pain. No, it comes at the most inopportune moments without any regard for you or others around you, and it stays as long as it likes.

But having a period is a part of life, and laughing through awkward moments we can’t control is one way to cut through any shame or discomfort we might feel. So we asked women to share the most inconvenient times they’ve ever gotten their periods—because hey, it’s really not the end of the world.

Visiting dad’s house.

“I was one of the last of my friends to get their period. I remember walking the track during gym class talking about when we thought we’d each get ours. I said I hoped I’d get mine soon because I was ready to be a woman. Cut to the summer of my 13th birthday. My sister and I were visiting my dad in Colorado for a week. I was nervous because it was my first time traveling without an adult (I’m from Florida), and we had some issues with our flight, which was scary enough.

When we finally got to my dad’s house, I was not feeling well at all. My sister kept trying to convince me that it was just from the nervousness of traveling, but I knew something wasn’t right. I told my dad I wasn’t feeling well and he said we’d get dinner to see if that helped. Dinner didn’t help, and we ended up leaving early.

When I stood up, my sister grabbed my arm and shouted: ‘You’re bleeding out of your butt!’ My dad freaked out, I freaked out, the waiter freaked out. Driving to the grocery store while sitting on a take-out box and crying for my mom and then trying to pick out pads with my dad is not how I imagined my journey into womanhood would go.”

– Jamie, 33, Florida

Right before the big day.

“I was keeping track of my cycle months before my wedding, and I was so excited that I wasn’t supposed to start until the day after my wedding. Unfortunately, 10 minutes before I was supposed to leave for my wedding rehearsal dinner, Aunt Flo decided to show up early and be a part of my special occasion.

I was freaking out about how I was going to manage to be on my period on my wedding day. Thanks to my awesome bridesmaids, we made it work. I’ll never forget how we all squeezed into a bathroom stall while three of them held up my dress and I played a hardcore version of Twister with my enormous princess wedding gown to change my tampons. Talk about bonding with your new sisters-in-law.”

– Jenny, 31, Florida

During my sweet 16 party

“I got my period at my sweet 16 and bled through my dress. Luckily, the material was one where we were able to get the blood out quickly. My cousin had to grab a dinner napkin and follow behind me to the bathroom, covering my dress. And then she and her mom were in the bathroom washing it out of my dress.”

– Danika, 28, New York

In the middle of a ski trip.

“One time I was hungover and on the ski lift ride up to the top of Monserrate in Bogota. The hangover and height already made everyone dizzy, but to top it off, I got my period right when we reached the summit and didn’t have any pads or tampons on me. I had to uncomfortably sit through lunch at this fancy restaurant where we’d made reservations with toilet paper in my pants. Then I left and had to Skype for one of the most important job interviews of my life, and I got the job. Oh, and I managed to get the stains out of my pants, too.”

– Isabella, 22, Georgia

When you least expect it.

“When I got my period for the first time, I had no idea what was going on and somehow convinced everyone that I was sitting in red paint. But I had started my period and went ALL day with it getting on every single chair. No one said a word. When I got home I showed my mom, and she threw my clothes in the wash, not explaining a thing. She had her friend at the school tell me about it. I just can’t believe I convinced so many people it was paint…I got it everywhere. So gross.”

– Amy, 29, North Carolina

At my wedding reception.

“I got mine a day or two early at my wedding reception. I had to have friends help me hold my dress in the stall while I cleaned up, put a tampon in, and lined my underwear with a ton of toilet paper and all that jazz. Let’s just say marriage was not consummated that night.”

– Katie, 30, Alabama

Over the Atlantic Ocean.

“I packed my fancy new pair of Thinx panties in anticipation of getting my period once I landed in Paris when I expected to get it, but my body had other plans and couldn’t wait for Paris. I boarded the plane, as did my period, while all precautions were in my checked bag. I was stuck in the middle seat in coach, writhing in pain and cursing my ovaries. My seat mates and ovaries were not happy.”

– Daniela, 30, New York

Flying back from my honeymoon.

“I got my period on the plane ride back from our honeymoon. Literally didn’t have anything with me and had to improvise in the airplane bathroom.”

– Rebecca, 28, New York

Right before a spa adventure.

“Some girlfriends and I were in a large, foreign city for a conference. We had heard about indoor spas that were very popular for locals. Wanting to relax and explore something new, we planned to visit a nice spa while we had free time during the busy weekend. Our whole day was planned around this experience, so imagine my frustration when I awoke with my period. A big thing I should mention: at these spas, you are expected to be completely nude. The other girls were really understanding and encouraged me to wear a tampon and…shove the string up inside. Can’t say I was comfortable enough to enjoy all the luxuries the other girls were enjoying, but I still had a good time.”

– Abigail, 30, Florida

After getting an IUD.

“I got the IUD in January and, no lie, bled for three months straight. At work, the week it happened, I was asked to lift heavy boxes and pack inventory. I had to keep stopping and was hunched over at one point crying to myself. The week after that, I had to fly to L.A. for my boyfriend’s birthday, followed by Valentine’s Day, our anniversary, a trip to Arizona at a pool, then a trip to L.A. again for work. I had to buy all new underwear. I think the worst part about when your period is so intense that you can’t breathe is that you try to internalize it. It becomes inconvenient because you can’t explain why you can’t perform the way you normally do at work and sexually, and when you say you have your period, no one cares.”

– Stephanie, 25, New York

At a dance performance.

“I was in high school, dancing consistently and pretty heavily. One day, I started my period on the day of an all-day dance performance. Not only did it add an extra level of fatigue to the day, but I had to be constantly checking to make sure I wasn’t leaking or ruining the costume I was wearing. I think at some point I ran out of tampons and had to run around trying to find some before things got worse.”

– Tiffany, 22, New York

During the LSAT.

“I had scheduled my first LSAT exam for June. Of course it was a hot and muggy day and I had to drive two hours to take my exam, so I wanted to wear something light and airy. I chose to wear a blue and white sundress. During the drive to my exam, I was having stomach cramps, but I just thought it was stress. As part of the regulations, you are only permitted to bring limited items in a clear plastic Ziploc bag. I only carried pencils, notes, and an analog watch. During the first half of the exam, we were confined in a large room where the A/C wasn’t working, but between the stench of body odor and sweat, the feeling finally subsided.

We finally walked out for a break where I walked around to stretch my legs and study my notes. When we were admitted back into the room, I looked down at my seat an saw a red stain. I realized that I had spent my only 15-minute break walking around parading my womanhood.

I didn’t bring in any tampons or pads. I had just come back from my one and only break, which meant I had to finish the LSAT exam bleeding through my underwear and dress. Let’s just say I knew better the second time I took it.”

– Sara, 29, New Jersey

In the middle of class.

“It was my first week of classes for the semester. Freezing cold outside. A lot of layers (by a lot, I mean tights and leggings and pants). And even better, I was on my period. Yay.

But it wasn’t a normal period. It came all in: heavy flow and cramps included, not very nice. So heavy that I had to change my pad and tampon every 30 minutes. The issue was that I couldn’t stand up and interrupt the class every 30 minutes, so, after an 80-minute lesson, I start walking away from my school and despite the many layers, I started dripping!

At that point, I started freaking out a little bit. I even went to the CityMD to talk with a doctor. They were pretty chill about it: “No big deal, it’s normal. Just give it a few days and come back if it gets worse.” And it did get worse that same night. I was taking a shower, and I started feeling dizzy and weird; I decided to sit on the bathtub. I fainted five seconds later (that was the first time I fainted in my life).

My roommate heard a noise and quickly came. She freaked out, gave me a lot of sugar and salt chips (who knows what I might be lacking for my blood pressure to be balanced) and since I didn’t get better, she called 911. After the ambulance took me to the hospital and they treated me, it all got better. My blood pressure got better and my flow went back to normal in a few days.

It wasn’t the most amazing day in the city, but I gotta say, looking back, it’s quite a funny story—not everyone is lucky enough to paint N.Y.C. streets in red. And I’m sure Always enjoyed all the sales they got from me.”

– Eli, 24, New York