There are situations for which no menstrual hut or middle-school lifehacks can be prescribed.
I don't care whether you wear maxi-pads, tampons, DivaCups, a belted cloth pad, absorbent Sex Period panties, or plain black underwear. I don't care whether you enjoy a nice rod-shaped penis that has no menstrual cycle whatsoever or another vagina that has its own 28-day merry-go-round. Unless you're a gay man, chances are there is going to be a third bedfellow arriving four days early, senile great aunt style, a few times a year and you're just going to have to deal with it.
But this isn't a Trauma Rauma scenario of "How do I tell my boyfriend about my periods?" Your boyfriend is an adult and has boned you frequently enough to know you are biologically female and must endure biologically female experiences that involve uterine lining. But there are other situations for which no menstrual hut, Yahoo! answer chain, or middle-school lifehacks can be prescribed.
That is because, at least two times a year, while menstruating, I have a spiraling mental breakdown that involves sitting on the kitchen floor and chugging chamomile tea because I have an imminent date with someone I don't see often and with whom sex is a given. These aren't merely dates, either. Sometimes I am in a long-distance relationship and these trips have been planned weeks in advance. People are racking up some mileage to see each other. They're traveling for hours – by bus, by train, by a car borrowed from a distant relative on the flimsiest excuse. And I always feel like I have a weird bloody secret hiding out in my underparts that really shouldn't matter, but also is a big drawback to the entire experience of reconnecting, or perhaps finally becoming intimate.
No, I'm not opposed to period sex whatsoever as long as the guy's game, what I am saying is, I dread the lead up to the period sex in a casual, first time, or long distance bone. If we are only going to see each other once in a blue moon, shouldn't I also be informing you that this very rare experience with me will involve penny-scented undergarments and surreptitious tampon tossing before the heavy petting?
There a lot of ways you can navigate such an anxiety-addled occasion that need not end in two bloody fingers and looks of betrayal. Once I sent a pre-text. A pretending to be off-the-cuff and casual, "Hey just so you know it's gonna be that time of month but I'd still like to see you." This type of caveat has always proceeded my dates, partly because I don't date misogynist creeps who would care and partially because I'm being polite and sweetly put all the cards on the table.
The next option is you buy a vaginal sponge like an early century prostitute, soak it in a bit of water, and shove it up there in hopes it absorbs all the gunk. This involves some confidence, an air of backward hatted "Yeah, whatever man," about you that I have never been able to hone. But I feel like if you're ever caught and explain to your hook up that you are taking cues from time-honored customs of sex workers, you'll earn some bonus points.
But by far my most preferred route is the in-the-moment confessional. A time when clothes have already been hastily discarded and flies are being grabbed for. A simple, "Eh, maybe you don't want to go there." Or, "It's not the best time," or if euphemisms aren't your cup of tea, "Dude, I'm on my period," could suffice. Usually it's met with a shrug and the flies continue to go down, because sex is a high-speed train running on the inertia of horniness. Next stop, Bonetown!
And none of this really matters anyway because, no matter what, there is still blowjobs. Blowjobs rarely deserve explanation or supplementation, and for that, I am forever thankful. Once, upon asking a male friend about an upcoming third date where I'd undoubtedly have my period but also undoubtedly be wanting sex, he suggested blithely, "Blowjob or postpone." I'm not sure I agree with this kind of stark suck-or-stay home world view, but it's telling of the expectations we put on a lady on the rag.
But let's talk about hookup period etiquette more, let's put our preferred style of announcement (singing telegram, carrier pigeon, email) on our dating profiles. Because having your period (and attendant period sex) is a wonderful, beautiful, lavishly womanly experience, but I just don't want to tell my hookups, after hours on public transit sitting next to coughing strangers smelling of tuna sandwiches, that when all is said and done, I am about to rain on their parade. For all of the agony, the least a guy could do is say, "Meh, no biggie."
Image via Flickr.