POV: It’s 6:14 p.m. You hear the “ding” come through on your phone while touching up your eyeliner. You reach over to grab it off the dresser, and that’s when it hits you: The awful wave of uterus pain that feels like someone started twisting a knife slowly into your pelvis from the inside.
You drop your phone. You run to the bathroom cabinet for ibuprofen. You realize those nervous-excited first date butterflies are now replaced with a sense of impending doom—and a bloated, swollen abdomen to top it off.
‘Noooo… it wasn’t supposed to get here til tomorrow,’ you think to yourself while silently cursing your period tracker app and whatever menstrual deities are behind this turn of events. You’ve been texting your date for almost three weeks now—even hung out over Facetime—and tonight you were finally supposed to meet up for the first time in person (fully vaxxed, of course).
Do you go? Is the chance to hang worth the fear of leaks or a migraine or gut-wrenching cramps interfering with your convo? It’s not like we’re in the 18th century…a period shouldn’t get to run your life, right? But we’re also constantly told to listen to our bodies and slow down when we need rest.
Which one is it?
If you’ve been in a situation like this before and have had zero clue what to do (and can’t seem to find a Magic 8-Ball to consult), you know how stressful it can be. Here’s some of our most sage advice for dating with a period—and dating when your period inevitably gets in the way.
The magic of a pros & cons list
Let’s say you’re in the exact situation described above:
Already ready for your date. Showered, hair done, hottest outfit ready to throw on, new pair of shoes awaiting you by the door. You feel that sudden wave of pain and you know immediately: Your period. If the bleeding hasn’t started yet, it’s only a matter of time.
To bail or not to bail?
First, take a breath. Assess how much time you have until you absolutely MUST leave in order to make it on time.
Grab a pen and paper, pour yourself a glass of water, and find some ibuprofen. Make sure it’s ibuprofen, AKA Advil or Motrin, and not acetaminophen (Tylenol)! The latter won’t block the prostaglandins causing your cramps.
Now for the writing assignment: Sometimes, when you’re super stressed and your thoughts are jumbled and you need to make a quick decision, it helps to write it down. No, seriously. Here’s how to do it.
How to construct your list
At the top of the paper, write “GO ON DATE” on the left and “STAY HOME” on the right. Draw a line down the middle and start listing off bullets with reasons why you think you should do one or the other.
Think about how you feel in the moment, and consider your last period. Were your cramps so bad that you were doubled over with a heating pad, or were you generally fine after the ibuprofen kicked in? If you were generally fine, put that in your “go on date” column.
One quick call-out: If your cramps are ever bad enough that you can’t move, are throwing up, or feel like you might pass out, please don’t ignore that. Get yourself to the ER or an urgent care or, at the minimum, get on the phone with a healthcare provider ASAP.
Health warnings aside, here are some things you might want to put in your “GO” column:
- You have that extra-excited, stars-in-your-eyes feeling about meeting them
- Scheduling with this person was really tricky because you’re both so busy, so rescheduling might take a while
- Despite the cramps, you’re really feeling yourself in your outfit/hair/nails/whatever
- The date itself was at a really cool place or doing a fun activity you love
- Based on the conversation you’ve had so far with your date, you feel really confident and like you’ll be comfortable spending time with them
On the other side of your piece of paper, jot down things that are making you want to bail, like:
- You’re super achy and the date you’ve planned is full of physical activity (like bowling or a strenuous hike)
- The date involves alcohol and likely in greater quantities than a single glass—which won’t vibe well with the ibuprofen you just took (if you took some)
- Your outfit is making you feel physically uncomfortable
- You’re bleeding a LOT
- There’s a Harry Potter marathon on TV and a pint of ice cream calling your name in the freezer
By the time you’ve filled up your sheet of paper halfway, you’ll probably have a better idea of what you need to do. If the column on the right is looking way longer than the one on the left, it’s time to send a version of the “hey, something came up – can we do another time?” text.
We have zero problem with stating reality: “I just got my period and I’m not feeling great” is about as easy as it gets, and your date should be understanding if they’re a decent human being. But if your comfort level isn’t there yet, that’s okay, too.
If you genuinely want to see the person again and are worried your last-min cancellation might send the wrong impression, just be crystal-clear that you DO want to reschedule and drop a couple of dates and times that work for you. You never need to apologize for your period, but let them know you want to keep the ball rolling.
But what if your list on the left side of the page (go on date!) is way longer or more compelling than the one on the right? You know what to do: Order that Uber. If you need to buy yourself a few extra minutes to freshen up, here are some innocent and totally believable excuses for running late:
“So sorry, running 10 mins late—fell asleep in the shower. Didn’t drown!”
“Running 15 mins behind. Found a baby squirrel in my car. Long story. On my way!”
“Sorry, lost track of time! Had to run five blocks to catch a Pokemon.”
Or, you know, just tell them the truth. 🙃
Tips for getting through a date when your period just started
You decided to go on the date! Amazing. Here’s how to completely forget you’re on your period and beat your date at bowling/pool/darts/hiking/axe throwing/etc.
1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Yes, we’re telling you to drink more water! Not wine (sorry). Especially if you’ve taken an NSAID like ibuprofen or naproxen, your body will thank you if you keep the alcohol to a minimum or avoid it altogether.
If you must have a drink during your date, stick with something lower in sugar like a tequila soda with a splash of pineapple juice. The bromelain in the pineapple juice is alleged to help with clotting, and (clear) tequila contains fewer congeners than other types of alcohol, making it easier for your body to process.
2. Choose the right period product. It’s hard to feel sexy with a maxi pad crammed into your favorite pair of underwear. Damp and hot are two adjectives that don’t exactly coexist. Tampons are the traditional pick for non bulky period care, but what if we told you we could one-up a tampon?
A menstrual disc is internally worn like a tampon, but it sits in a different part of the vagina—the fornix, just beneath your cervix—which means you can’t even feel it when it’s inserted correctly. It collects your period instead of absorbing it and holds as much as 3+ super tampons.
Translation? No more worrying about bleeding through, fewer cramps, and, oh yeah, mess-free period sex™. A disc won’t block your vaginal canal, so you can still get physical with your partner if you’re in the mood post-date. You’re welcome.
3. Wear something
tight you feel good in. Day one of your period probably isn’t the best time to throw on that bandage dress from Revolve for the first time (unless it happens to be super stretchy and confidence-boosting, in which case you should totally go for it).
The point is, wear something you feel comfortable in and you’ll be able to focus on the conversation with your date—instead of the zipper of your jeans digging into your belly button. A stretchy pair of leggings paired with a cute tank and statement earrings will check all the boxes without warring against period bloat.
4. Rest up ahead of time. Have a few hours before your date? Take it from the pros: Naps are the best way to pregame. That applies any time of the month, but especially on your period. A warm bath followed by a cozy blanket, a heating pad, and your favorite episode of Friends queued up on Netflix will have you drifting off in no time. Just don’t forget to set an alarm so you have plenty of time to recover from the post-nap scaries before heading out.
5. Listen to your body. Don’t push yourself to go on a date if your body is screaming ‘please just let me stay on this couch.’ If you’re feeling especially crampy, fatigued, nauseous, or have a pounding headache, sometimes you just need to give yourself time for R&R. The same principle applies if you’ve made it halfway through your date and just aren’t feeling up for any more.
We’ll say it again for the people in the back: A decent human won’t judge you for canceling or going home early when you have your period and aren’t feeling great. Be honest—tell them what’s up, that you had a great time, and schedule something post-menstruation. It’s all good!
And if they act weird or make you feel bad about it? Get the f&%$ out and be glad you dodged that bullet.
How to hack your cycle for better dates
With the right planning and preparation, dating on your period isn’t so bad. The main thing to remember is that you should never push yourself to do something you’re not feeling up for (period or not). Trust your
gut uterus and, if you’re seriously struggling to decide whether to bail or keep your plans, make a pros/cons list.
If you want to avoid scheduling dates around your period altogether, download a cycle tracking app. Not only will this help from a logistics standpoint, but you’ll also get more in tune with your body and how you feel during different stages of your menstrual cycle.
ICYMI: You tend to feel your sexiest and most confident (and horniest) about halfway through your cycle, when you’re approaching ovulation. Meaning, somewhere between cycle day 12 and day 16 is a great window to schedule a first date. 😉
Then, post-ovulation, your hormones start slowing you down: This phase, called the luteal phase, is when you might be more inclined to stay in and #selfcare.
After cycle tracking for a few months, you’ll have a better sense of how you feel—physically and emotionally—during each phase of your menstrual cycle. Use this knowledge to your advantage by planning dates that give your body what it’s craving.
This article is informational only and is not offered as medical advice, nor does it substitute for a consultation with your physician. If you have any gynecological/medical concerns or conditions, please consult your physician.
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