We’ve all been there. Period horror stories are, well, horrific. There’s nothing that can match the mortification of a leak that ‘becomes public’. While at the time, you probably felt like you’d rather the ground opened up and swallowed you – time is a great healer. 

We asked friends of the Hello Cup to share their terrible tales, anonymously of course. There’s bound to be one you relate to – and isn’t it somehow reassuring to know that mortifying menstrual moments happen to us all? And that we all survive the humiliation, and live to tell the tale?

“On a long flight, from the USA to the UK, I took a sleeping tablet then woke abruptly when we landed and had to rush for a connecting flight with no time for a loo stop. Having walked through the entire airport and gone through boarding, cabin crew called me back up the gangway to tell me I needed to go to the bathroom. It was no slight leak – the stain was about the size of a large inflated balloon and I had no other clothes, and no time to shop. It was just horrible.”

“I got my period on my wedding day. Awesome timing. I needed to go the toilet just before the ceremony so two of my best friends came with me to make sure I didn’t have an accident (something I would never have agreed to had I not been in my wedding dress!) As I went about my business, one of my friends said ‘Is that really how you put your tampon in?’ Turns out, I’d been doing it wrong my whole adult life! I checked the instructions next time I bought a pack and as they’d suspected, my method, of reaching in from behind, not from the front, was not the one illustrated. Something I would never have known if I hadn’t had two mates in the bathroom with me on my wedding day.”

“I was at a bar having drinks with a friend, and realised I had my period. When I stood up, there was a massive stain on the seat, so while I ran for the loo, my friend starting mopping it up with napkins. It’s a true friend who will clean up your menstrual blood at a bar. Anyway, by the time I was back, with her merino cardigan tied around my waist, my friend had come up with an ingenious plan to take care of what was left of the stain. Create another stain! So she tipped her red wine all over the bar couch, and we apologised to the bar staff for our clumsiness, and left.” 

“I was at school camp in Form 2, and my period arrived unexpectedly. It was probably only my third ever period, and I had taken no pads, no tampons and had nothing to use. And I was far too mortified to ask an adult for help! So, I got out all my spare undies and crafted them into makeshift pads, which I used and then discreetly threw away. I still remember that horrible sense of embarrassment that someone would find out.”

 “My friend told me once about this time she was at the bank, and in a very long queue. It took an age to get to the front at which point the bank teller passed a note to her, written on a deposit slip. It said “I didn’t want to embarrass you by saying this out loud. You have your period and there’s a stain on your skirt.” She was horrified.

“I had just scored a new job and in my third or fourth week was in a boardroom, with a number of male executives from work, and we had a series of meetings. In between two appointments, just as one group had left and another was coming in, I rifled through my handbag to find my MAC lipstick for a quick freshen-up, chatting away merrily to my new colleagues. The item I pulled out with a flourish, though, was my super tampon.”

“During our uni years, my friend moved into a flat with a bunch of guys. As she was the only girl in the house, after a few months she began to get pretty weirded out that her tampons kept disappearing. It was only while at the supermarket doing the shopping with one of the flatties that the truth came out. “We’re almost out of toilet fresheners” he announced, as they cruised past the tampons, and then he grabbed a box and threw it in the trolley! My friend was gobsmacked to learn he’d been fastidiously unwrapping a tampon every couple of days and chucking it in the loo, believing it was some kind of sanitising system to soak up bog bacteria!”