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How to take my pads with me to the toilet subtly?

I work in an all male office/open space and everytime I get my period I go through the awkwardness of trying to take them out of my bag and put them in my pocket an go to the toilet. I can't really take my whole bag, nor can I carry all the pads I need in my pants during the day.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Mister Positive Dec 5 '19 at 13:51
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    I'm not meaning to be difficult or obtuse, but what is the reason you can't take your bag to the bathroom with you? – Upper_Case Dec 5 '19 at 18:58
  • Does your workplace have proper biohazard-rated disposal bins in the ladies' restroom? Because that's what used female sanitary products are, and if you're going to change them there, you should really be able to dispose of them properly. osha.gov/laws-regs/standardinterpretations/1992-06-01 – nick012000 Dec 6 '19 at 12:08
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    I’m pretty certain that nearly 100% of office guys in Europe wouldn’t raise the slightest eyebrow if they saw you carrying your normal, daily-advertised-on-TV-and-everywhere-else feminine hygiene product. :-) There’s absolutely NO awkwardness to feel. Do you feel awkward when taking a paper tissue from your purse, or washing your hands with soap ? It’s the same things ! – breversa Dec 6 '19 at 14:23
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    Most women I know just take a bag to the toilet 98% of the time (on or off). Nobody gives it any second thought - the men are just waiting for the women to leave the office so they can fart loudly. – Smock Dec 6 '19 at 17:00
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Having your period is part of being a woman and completely normal. There is nothing to be ashamed of. If you feel uncomfortable taking out single pads from your bag bring a small purse that holds your pads in your bag. You can also consider placing a box of pads in the bathroom with a sign that reads

Emergency stock. Help yourself and consider filling it up if empty

or something like this for all women in the office space. I bet some of them will be really thankfull if their period hits unprepared.

To include the suggestion from the comments, if there is no space available to put a box of pads, you could request a shelf or something like this from your management or facility management.


As a side note: there are ways to manage the flow that don't include pads that need to be changed regularly. A cup just needs to be emptied once in a while (up to 8 - 12 hours if I remember correctly) and that can be done in the bathroom without carrying anything. There are also period panties one can wear if the cup is not enough.

  • There is absolutely no place to place them on in there. Unless I would glue them on the wall or something... – Jenna Dec 5 '19 at 11:57
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    @Jenna If you seriously have nothing to put the box on, why not talk to your facilty manager to place a small shelf in the womens bathroom? – iLuvLogix Dec 5 '19 at 12:05
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    @jenna It sounds to me just like normal. You employer is a guy, so he probably did not put very much thought in furnishing the lady´s bathroom. If you tell him sometime´s missing there, you fill a blind spot for him. – Daniel Dec 5 '19 at 12:10
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    +1 for suggesting the cup! I never have to change it at work (also work in an all male office) reduces the hassle – Bee Dec 5 '19 at 13:57
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    You don't have to force the installation of the shelf yourself. We have these plastic cubbies (you know those cheap plastic drawer things from Walmart or whatever?), and they contain all sorts of useful emergency things. I would try to bring it up with whoever is doing stocking, or maybe even ask HR to facilitate this for you. – Catsunami Dec 5 '19 at 15:54
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I think small metal boxes are available at most apothecaries to store and carry pads. I use them and they are quite practical. But, seriously, there's nothing embarrassing in having the period. If a group of grown men are feeling awkward for this reason, it's definitely their problem, not yours

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    Whilst your absolutely right (+1) you already feel cr*p when your on your period and letting the whole world know your going through that? Urk. Also, shouldn't happen but does, a lot of people will use the fact they know your on to dismiss things you say. "You think we should implement XYZ at work? I think you're just feeling a bit sensitive at the moment and we should put that idea on hold". It may not be said out loud, but it definitely goes through peoples minds. – Bee Dec 5 '19 at 14:04
  • @Bee "letting the whole world know your going through that", sincerely? No. But I'm in my early 30s. I had a lot of training to not feel embarrassed by this. I completely and wholeheartedly agree with the second part of your comment. Especially with the "sensitive" part. Because, really guys, I'm just having cramps today. Tomorrow I will have the same opinion. – schrodingercat Dec 5 '19 at 14:19
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    I'm not saying it's like that for everyone but I definitely have days where I am just feeling like that and I don't want people to know I'm on – Bee Dec 5 '19 at 14:23
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    I feel pretty bad too. Especially the first day and I really envy women who don't feel anything at all. Or so they say, they're not human, probably – schrodingercat Dec 5 '19 at 14:34
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    @hyde of course, discretion is always the key, and I'm not advocating for publicly telling when you are going to the toilet. But I still don't think that carrying around a small and modest purse/box/case (which I have and commonly use) with a pad inside should embarrass your adult coworkers – schrodingercat Dec 5 '19 at 16:17
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I personally use a small, decorative travel makeup bag that holds my sanitary supplies and some single-use packs of Advil. I fill it at home and take the whole pouch with me to the restroom, so there's no smuggling supplies from one bag to another or into my hand.

In the fairly unlikely chance that someone even notices what I am carrying, it can easily be assumed that it's just to freshen up. Even though I don't usually wear makeup at work, I doubt the men in the office overthink me sometimes entering the restroom with a travel makeup kit.

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    This. From other comments of the OP, I gather that they are not in any way forbidden to take a bag to the toilet. So just do that, problem solved. A woman (or a man) going to a toilet with a smallish bag is completely normal, I can't think of any observer feeling awkward because of it, and if someone is rude enough to ask "hei, what are you carrying in your bag" or something, they don't deserve more than a little laugh as an answer. – hyde Dec 5 '19 at 15:58
  • You can put wet wipes (for...messes), too! And maybe attach one of those bag magnet things so you can hang it, even if there's no hanging hook or nice shelf to sit it on. – user3067860 Dec 5 '19 at 22:25
  • As a male, I can definitely say it doesn't register to me whether anyone in the office is going to the toilet. If they're not at their desk, then they could be getting a drink, making a private call, have an emergency, or anything really. – Aaron Dec 5 '19 at 23:16
  • @Aaron As a female, I am also entirely oblivious to the restroom habits of my coworkers (unless there happens to be a line...) I know there are some people who seem very aware of it though based on some questions here! workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/129365/… – Meg Dec 6 '19 at 14:24
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Talk to your office manager to organize sanitary packages for the bathroom. That should include things like disposable tooth brushes, antiseptic mouthwash, pads, toilet disposable wet naps (alternative to dry toilet paper), etc. Having those things in the bathroom is not only a great convenience, but also a subtle way to remind everybody about hygiene.

Now, despite people telling you to "not be embarrassed," the reality is that the human brain is a bit more complex than that. Trying to simply overcome something you're uncomfortable with doesn't happen by sheer brute force. While I don't have to deal with it with pads, somewhere around spring and fall, I usually have a couple of weeks (perhaps due to temperature changes) where I have a perspiration problem. Imagine wearing a t-shirt in the cold and still having sweaty armpits. It can be really annoying and embarrassing. If somebody tells me that I shouldn't be embarrassed about it because it's a normal human reaction, it's not just going to make it not embarrassing. I have to take my medical-grade antiperspirant, walk myself to the bathroom and apply it out of sight.

So if you don't think you'll simply become the brave person that everybody says you should be (like I'm not), then feel free to adopt some strategies:

  1. Put it in your jean pocket; if you have a switcher with pockets, use those pockets.
  2. Proceed to the bathroom.
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    I love this answer. I wish our bathroom had these things. – Lumberjack Dec 5 '19 at 13:53
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  1. You could treat them as what they are: Normal hygiene items. Just put a Box on the toilet. I know a lot of people doing that already, in the guest toilet, as well as restaurants/cafes having those available for their guests. If you have female visitors/clients on site, they might appreciate it in a time of an emergency.

  2. Get one of those larger handbags for work, put your personal stock in there as well as other toiletries you might need (comb, toothbrush etc.). Make a habit out of it to carry this bag to the toilet with you.

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    Most people seem to take their smartphone to the toilet... – Solar Mike Dec 5 '19 at 12:05
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    @Jenna no one else carries their handbag ... but no one else is a girl, so ... – Daniel Dec 5 '19 at 13:14
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    @jenna if you take a handbag every time, regardless of time of month, then almost no-one one is going to question it or wonder why you might be doing it this one time – HorusKol Dec 5 '19 at 14:44
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    @Jenna, I often stop by the bathroom on my way out for lunch, so of course I carry my bag with me (I'm too lazy to walk back and forth). Can you try timing it the same way? – Catsunami Dec 5 '19 at 15:55
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    My experience matches @HorusKol's comment. I worked for over 30 years in male-dominated offices. I always took my handbag/purse with me to the restroom. Nobody ever commented on it, asked me about it, or even seemed to notice. Sometimes I didn't need anything from it. Other times I would want to comb my hair, or change my sanitary pad, or powder my nose if I was wearing makeup, and the purse would be useful. – Patricia Shanahan Dec 5 '19 at 20:12

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