Menstruation is a mixed blessing. On one hand, your period provides calming reassurance that you're not pregnant, gives you an excuse to skip gym on rope climbing day, and allows for some quality "spending an evening alone with Netflix Instant" time. On the other hand, it can sometimes be an embarrassingly unpredictable gurgling curse from hell — taunting you when you're trying to get pregnant, befouling your date-night panties, and inviting both shark and bear attacks.
If your uterus is like an iPod shuffle and unexpectedly goes from languid Pure Moods to Slayer's Raining Blood, and you're nowhere near your own supply of pads or tampons, fear not: You can MacGyver yourself through this.
The obvious first course of action is to locate yourself another lady of childbearing age. A coworker? Someone else who happens to be in the bathroom? Ask her for a pad or tampon. You don't even have to be cute about it; she knows what you're going through. Everyone needs to ride the cotton pony.
If you're nowhere near a lady and you're reaching Red October status, you're going to have to make your own temporary pad. If you're in a situation where you can eventually score a tampon, you can probably get by with the old "roll a bunch of toilet paper into a pad-like shape and put it in your underwear" trick. But if your leak is super heavy, or you're facing a plugging timeline similar to that of the BP spill, you're going to have to need something a little more heavy duty.
First, check your belongings for some cotton, gauze, or other absorbent, disposable, and clean material. This will be the core of your makeshift pad. If you're in an office building, check to see if the security desk has a first aid kit; there may be gauze there that can be used as a homemade pad's absorbent core. Most restaurants have first aid kits and unless they're real assholes, they should give you some gauze if you tell them you have a really gross wound that needs dressing. Is there a cheapy washcloth around? How about a thick paper towel? Get your hands on something more sturdy than toilet paper that will absorb liquid and preserve your dignity. I carry an extra pair of clean socks with me, and, in an Emergency Period Situation, one of them could theoretically be sacrificed in the name of not having a teen magazine "OMG I Had My Period In White Jeans in Front of My Crush" moment. Think like MacGyver; be creative in your hunt for something disposable and absorbent.
Next, wrap the core — whatever you've managed to score — in toilet paper, so that it forms a pad-like shape. Be generous with the wrapping; toilet paper is generally pretty weaksauce and will fall apart.
Situate your homemade pad in the crotch of your undies, and then take even more toilet paper and wrap it AROUND the entire contraption, both the crotch of your underwear and the makeshift pad. This is key — by securing your homemade project to your underpants, it's (hopefully) less likely to shift around; it's that shifting around that tears up the paper pretty quickly. Return your panties to the upright position, wash your hands, and plan on popping back into the bathroom on the regular to make sure you're not leaking.
If you don't have an absorbent core, you're going to have to go for substance rather than style. Make the quickie toilet paper pad we first mentioned, then use another shitload of toilet paper to secure it around your skivvies. Again, you're wrapping toilet paper around the crotch of your unmentionables in order to hold the "pad" in place. Don't be shy; if you really want to give your clothes eternal life, you're going to have to mummify your panties.
After this, you'll never forget your tampons again, will you? I mean, you have a sock in your underwear and you're walking like you have a pillow between your legs. Look at your life. Look at your choices.
Image via Shutterstock/GWImages.