Dear Em & Lo: I Got My Period During Sex and Am Mortified

Dear Em & Lo,

I recently hooked up with a guy from work, but unfortunately things did not end up well. While we were having sex I got my period and it was brutal. I was so embarrassed that I didn’t want to finish. He was generally nice about the whole situation but things just haven’t been that same. I quit responding to his texts and now things more awkward than ever. I have to go back to work but I don’t know how to act. How should I handle this unfortunate situation?

— Red

Dear Red,

You yourself turned a little spill into a scene from “Carrie.” He was nice about it, it sounds like he would have been happy to keep going, and he continued to text you. But you? You freaked out, stopped responding to him, and have probably been acting all weird at the office. All unnecessarily!

Look, you have nothing to be embarrassed about. Accidents happen. You cannot set your watch by your period — sometimes it shows up a little early, sometimes a little late. If you were at his place, you could feel a little bit bad about staining his sheets and could have apologized for that. But it’s nothing a good soak in a bucket of ice water can’t fix (plus, he should probably be washing his sheets more often than he does, anyway). And if you were at your place, then don’t sweat it!

The natural and normal occurrence of menstruation is nothing to be ashamed of or grossed out by. You’re having intercourse: you’re already dealing with mucous membranes and bodily fluids and semen! And do tell us exactly how semen is so much better/less gross than menstrual blood…? Oh, that’s right, you can’t, because it’s not. They’re either both gross or they’re both no biggie. As a sexual creature who has to live with her reproductive system for the rest of her life, we suggest you embrace the latter perspective.

Actually, we insist on it. Because you are responsible for helping teach guys this lesson, too. While your coworker sounds like a cool, accepting, well-adjusted guy, your overreaction only served to suggest to him that there is something gross and unnatural and shameful about women’s real bodies.

Unfortunately, the way you handled the situation was way worse (i.e. more off-putting) than the situation itself. You could have set the tone by admitting embarrassment but ultimately laughing it off and moving on together. But instead you freaked out and your freakout may have driven him away. The best you can do is work hard on getting rid of this guilt and shame, accepting your body — and sex — as inherently imperfect, and not taking it all so seriously. Then maybe someday you’ll be able to laugh about it with your coworker.

Your bloody valentines,

Em & Lo

This post has been updated from the original.



  1. To make you feel better, I’ll tell you a little story. One time, i was hooking up with a dude and I was going downtown. He got a little overly pushy and hit my gag reflex. Well you know what happened next. That’s right; I threw up him. Pretty awful, right? Well, without missing a beat, he says “Don’t worry. In my line of work, this happens all the time.” Which was just off the wall enough to make the whole situation hilarious. My point is twofold: first, at least you didn’t puke on the dude. Second, sometimes all you can do is laugh and bleach the sheets.

  2. I remember being with a girlfriend in a hotel (weekend trip) where she was rubbing herself on me (we were both partially clothed). Afterwards, we discovered that she was on her period and my shorts were literally soaked in blood.

    Neither one of us thought it was a big deal, although she apologized for bleeding on me. The biggest concern I had was how to wash the shorts.

    I’m bringing this up to say that it really does happen to other people, and it isn’t a big deal for many people (men and women). From the sound of it your partner didn’t think it was a big deal, either.

    Both Nikki and Johnny make excellent points as well. I agree completely with apologizing as Nikki mentions.

    Good luck!

  3. Yes, it happens a lot. In fact, having sex can bring on your period. Again – not a big deal.

  4. The period during sex is really not a big deal. Major belly-flop on how you handled it though.

    For future reference, really, this happens all the time.

  5. You might try communicating to him (indeed, I think you owe him some kind of apology for giving him the silent treatment). Just say you were embarrassed because something like that had never happened before, you overreacted, and you’re sorry for acting weird. But by all means, don’t make a huge deal out of apologizing – otherwise you risk ratcheting up the awkwardness even more.

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