Your period can be a tricky customer. Even those of us with cycles as regular as clockwork will probably experience at least one jolly menstrual surprise in our lifetimes – and we can only hope that when that happens we’ll have a trusty tampon or sanitary pad lurking about our persons.
betty.me spoke to 21 people who weren’t so lucky, and were forced to improvise with whatever was around them. Such as…
A pair of bikini bottoms
“My period arrived unexpectedly at university, when I had nary a toilet roll to my name. I did, however, have a pair of bikini bottoms in my drawer from a recent holiday, and figured they must be absorbent. So I climbed into them and dashed into town to buy some tampons. Turns out bikini bottoms aren’t as absorbent as all that, and I had to tie my jumper around my waist to hide the spreading stain in my crotch. I was only wearing a T-shirt underneath and it was a the middle of winter, so yeah, I always carry tampons now.”
A bit of a nappy
“I got my period while wheeling my baby brother around John Lewis, so I nipped into their baby-change loos and tried to rip up one of his nappies while he looked on, nonplussed. Do you know how hard it is to rip up a nappy, though? Really, really hard. I hurt my arm doing that, and the worst part is that I can’t tell anyone about the injury because it sounds so stupid.”
An entire nappy
“Didn’t know what to do, so shoved a whole nappy into my pants and walked with a very wide stance for the rest of the day. Really absorbent, though!”
Folded-up paper towels from a restaurant bathroom
“I was in a long queue for a busy loo, and when I got to the end I yanked loads of paper towels from the dispenser, then ran into the cubicle. When I came out I’m sure everyone in the queue knew what was going on, because no one would meet my eye.”
“I wasn’t loving it :(“
“Do NOT recommend! SO uncomfortable!”
“I was caught short on a night out, and there was no loo roll in the toilets. Cue some improvisation and one slightly cold foot on the walk home.
The sock was discarded afterwards.”
A pair of socks
“I was on the train from London to Penzance with absolutely no sanitary items (although I did briefly consider my empty crisp packet), so I used one sock for half the journey and the other for the other half. Immense sock-and-sanitary-towel shopping spree when I got to Penzance. Immense.”
My little sister’s winnie the pooh flannel!
“I felt so bad, but I had a really heavy flow and folded-up toilet tissue just wouldn’t have cut it. I have since replaced her flannel.”
“They are already handily folded into rectangles! Then I lined my pants with the plastic tissue packet to prevent the tissues leaking, and felt like a genius.”
Cotton wool and sellotape
“Double-sided the tape in the gusset of my pants and stuck the cotton wool on top of it. Lasted for hours! Felt like Bear Grylls or something!”
A bath sponge
“Thought I was being clever by choosing the most absorbent item in the bathroom. However, it was shaped like a starfish and made me look as if I was smuggling bunnies in my leggings. Although I maintain that it was absorbent.”
Some gauze from a first-aid kit
“I stole it from work, praying that no one would have a serious cut later that day on my floor of the office.”
One of my mother’s fancy linen napkins from christmas day 🙁
“As a side note, it should be made law for all mothers to have spare tampons in the bathroom when their children come to visit.”
“These are meant to be used by breastfeeding women in case of random spills, but when my period came without warning I snuck one from my sister’s stash and put it in my pants. Felt weird, but worked.”
A pair of incontinence pants
A folded-up pizza menu
“(Don’t ask either)”
My boyfriend’s t-shirt, folded up
“He was wearing a jumper but it was his favourite T-shirt, and he was awfully nice about it.”
A strip of cardboard packing from an amazon parcel
“Not recommended for long periods! (Pun not intended).”
“Really reliable and surprisingly comfortable, although I’m not sure how hygienic it was after being out in the kitchen the whole time.”
“I got my period while camping. Luckily it wasn’t a nettle or poison ivy leaf.”
Don’t let this happen to you! Leaves and newspaper aren’t viable or comfortable alternatives.
The bettybox comes with all your pads or tampons for the month, plus beauty samples and other treats, and a lovely drawstring bag to keep on you at all times. Or, I guess, always wear socks.