There’s nothing as infuriating as an unexpected period stain. She strolls in like unsolicited debit alerts you receive on a day you decide to casually breathe in Lagos. One minute you’re feeling secure in your double-layered pad and the next, your uterus decides to disgrace you.
But let’s rant about it together. In this article, seven women share their most annoying experiences with getting stained, starting with mine.
“Let’s not even get into how I left the okada man’s seat covered in blood”
There hasn’t been a more shameful experience for me than when I got stained in light brown khaki pants at 16. I was at uni for registrations, and I didn’t realise I was stained until a woman randomly pulled me to the corner and told me. I was so embarrassed. Mostly because I didn’t know how long I’d been walking around with a patch of blood on my bum.
The worst part was trying to get home. I was in a completely different city from my parents, so all I had were relations to ask for help. I called my uncle in a panic to pick me up, but he didn’t come because I couldn’t tell him exactly why it was an emergency. When I called his wife to explain, she said I was being dramatic.
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Bolt wasn’t as popular in 2014, so I ended up hopping three buses and flying a bike to get home. I held a clerk bag against my bum through the whole journey in an attempt to cover my shame — a tad dramatic. And let’s not even get into how I left the okada man’s seat covered in blood.
— Ortega, 23
“My underwear was drenched at the bank”
Last Tuesday, I decided to take the risk of not wearing a pad on the fifth day of my cycle. I knew it was a risky move, but at this point, I’d had three months of my five-day cycle suddenly becoming four. I trusted that I was completely done.
Then, I got to the bank and felt that irritating burst of blood you get when your period randomly shows up. I was so uncomfortable, but I needed to sort out the issues with my account. And the customer service was so slow. By the time the guy was done, my underwear was drenched.
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But I think the most frustrating part was getting back home an hour later, putting on a pad and realising the blood had stopped. Like the 45 minutes I’d sat with soaked underwear at the bank didn’t just happen.
— Lola, 26
“I started my period again after five years”
When I was 45, I unexpectedly had my period almost five years after it had stopped. It started with cramps, but the doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong. They attributed it to some kind of transition to menopause. I spent a week in my room in a lot of pain.
A week later, the blood started to flow and caught me off guard. I didn’t even understand how it was possible. The doctors said it happened occasionally to women my age.
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It had been years since I put on a pad, so of course, it shifted as I went from meeting to meeting the next day. And that’s how I ended up with a stained dress at an important client meeting. It wasn’t horrible because we were friends. But I was past the age for all that crap of period stains.
— Julie, 49
“I couldn’t go home because there was so much work to do”
In February 2022, I had to be out for fieldwork at Oniru beach. My flow is usually heavy, but I was sure I’d be fine until about noon. I was on the bus until 8 a.m., and I didn’t know I was badly stained on the ride until a random woman on the beach told me.
I changed my pad, but I couldn’t leave because we had a lot of work to do. And everyone on my team was a guy, so it was very awkward. I ended up walking around with a huge stain on my light blue jeans. I don’t think I’ve ever felt like digging myself into a hole as much as I did on that day.
— Deola, 27
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“I didn’t know how to handle getting stained in a class full of boys”
My mum never really liked to talk about periods or puberty. I learnt most of what I needed from friends. But I didn’t know how to handle getting stained in a class full of boys. I was 18 and in my second year of engineering at uni when it happened.
Engineering boys are already annoying, so getting stained during a class and not knowing is the worst. And then having one of them tell you about it is the cherry on top. The guys made it seem like it was unnatural with their awkward stares. So I actually cried. Mostly because of my rep, but I also felt unprepared because I’d been in an all-girls secondary school.
— Ashley, 19
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“I didn’t use pads until I was 18. My mum also didn’t use them”
I didn’t use pads until I was 18. My mum also didn’t use them. She taught me to use tissue paper or clothes and they weren’t the best absorbents for a heavy flow.
The one time I really got frustrated was when my mum sent me on one of her long errands and I got stained. I was 14 at the time and so upset. The market was rowdy, so that made it stressful to deal with. I had to walk back home with a stained skirt and blood practically dripping down my legs.
— Peace, 53
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“It didn’t make sense because I used a panty liner”
I got stained at church this month (2022). On my calendar, I had two more days until my next period. But I wore a pant liner just in case it came earlier. And I confidently put on a yellow dress for church. When it was time for offering, a babe randomly dragged me to her seat to let me know I was stained.
It was such a huge stain and it didn’t make sense because I had pantyliners on for goodness sake. I had to beg the lady for her scarf to cover myself and take a bike home. With how irregular my periods are, it was the day I wore a yellow dress it decided to be punctual.
— Sara*, 21
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