It took me awhile to perfect the art of having a tidy period. I still occasionally get spots on some underwear, but even this is very rare with my super-light birth control pill periods.
I have bled on all of the following things: underwear, sheets, mattress, pyjamas, pants, products, the floor, myself, a cloth hankerchief, a towel, my beloved boy.
I've never had an embarrassingly public blood mess, although I have bled through my clothes in public situations(in high school, at camp, while hiking, on an airplane). This has only happened a few times that I remember, and usually the blood spot would be in an inconspicuous area like between my thighs, rather than somewhere exposed like the seat of my pants. In such situations, I would just be careful about my sitting posture so as not to expose my secret to the world, and would often fall back on the classic sweater around the waist hiding mechanism.
I think all my public messes have been due to whatever product I was relying on giving out at an inopportune time, rather than the sudden onset of my period. When I start my period, I barely ever kick it off with a big gush of blood that could catch me by surprise.
These messes are complicated in situations where I don't have any replacement products, or am far from a bathroom. Usually I can make due with toilet paper until I find new products, but in smarmy public toilets this is sometimes more difficult. My parents lived in Indonesia for awhile, and many of the toilets were of the "washing hands after" rather than "having toilet paper" variety, besides which I didn't really trust my immunity to whatever the humidity and heat had allowed to spawn on the toilet paper (wiping seemed ok, but long-term contact was more uncomfortable). That is what led to the cloth hankerchief being sacrificed to bandage my uterus. I suppose a sock or something could also substitute, but it would be a bit of a bulge ;)
I used to worry quite a bit if I was caught product free for any amount of time, like if there were 5 minutes left in class before I could leave or if I hadn't quite arrived at some destination. After awhile, I noticed that even if I felt quite messy and wet and gushing, my vulvo/vaginal unit would hold a lot of blood to itself, in its various crevices and whatnot. It took several minutes to make a real mess of my underwear, and rather awhile after that for anything to appear on my pants, especially if I wasn't sitting or wearing something tight. Now my main motivation in avoiding messes is that I like my underwear and don't want to stain them, rather than my previous motivation of avoiding embarrassing moments.
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