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I was working in my work space today and a female coworker came to give me some information that I needed, then left. I'm male.

Suddenly, when she was on her way back to her work space, I saw a stain on her white jeans. No doubts that was her period.

I didn't tell her anything because I didn't want her to think I was staring inappropriately because of where the stain was, and I thought she was going to feel embarrassed.

So, what can I say when I face another similar situation? I don't want to make a female person feel uncomfortable or embarrassed.

  • 2
    Not a duplicate, but given the opposite-gender dynamics this question could be useful reading as well. – Em C Apr 27 '18 at 21:39
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    You should include the culture/region this is occuring in. Rules around menstruation vary a lot by people-group. – the dark wanderer Apr 29 '18 at 7:29
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    How do you know she doesn't already know about it, or wouldn't care to know in any case? Menstruation is a fact of life, and unfortunate accidents do happen. – Bread Apr 29 '18 at 12:01
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    Please don’t write answers in comments. It bypasses our quality measures by not having voting (both up and down) available on comments, as well as having other problems detailed on meta. Comments are for clarifying and improving the question; please don’t use them for other purposes. – Tinkeringbell May 1 '18 at 9:14
123

You say you're sure, but you can't ever really be. It's easy enough to spill or sit on something. And it doesn't even matter: you don't need to tell her what kind of stain it is, just that it's there.

So just keep it simple, like you presumably would if it were anything else: "hey, I think you have something on your pants."

She can figure it out and take care of it from there, whatever it is. If that is what it was, she gets to save face and hope that you didn't realize. If it's not, then you've avoided making an embarrassing mistake. Either way, neither of you have to have a presumably awkward conversation about menstruation.

Be sure to say this in a way that no one else will overhear, and ideally not face-to-face either, to minimize embarrassment and remove any need to actually talk about it further. An IM would be a good choice assuming IMing is normal in your office and you can do it immediately: it doesn't put either of you on the spot, she can take a second to answer, and she doesn't have to be in front of a person when she's in an embarrassing situation. If you're really graceful and able to project a no big deal vibe, you could try in person, but given that you were already uncomfortable and likely to be awkward and she was on her way out so you'd have had to chase her, it seems like a more difficult option. (If IMing each other isn't normal in your office, or you can't count on her getting it right away, then yes, do it in person as discreetly and casually as possible.)

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    Y'all, I've explained the suggestion, both why it's helpful here and why in person maybe isn't. If you want to write an answer saying you definitely need to do it in person, go for it. (No one is ever going to use a written record of "I think you have something on your pants" against you, and many people get embarrassed by being confronted with an embarrassing situation while someone is watching, so avoiding that is helpful.) – Cascabel Apr 30 '18 at 0:03
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I think a general "Hey, I think you may have inadvertently sat on something dirty" will do the trick.

She'll know to check, and she'll know you did not think it was due to her menstrual period (if really that is). Then leave, no big deal, as you do not need to hear her answer or her justification on what it is.

She will not feel embarassed, she'll forget quickly, and will not have to go through the embarassment of answering something (as she would if done through e-mail or IM)

Even if you are right, and it comes from her period, the general thing to do in these cases is to play the dumb guy who cannot distinguish a blood stain from a coffee stain, and pretend she just sat on a dusty chair.

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    While I like other approaches better... If this is the route you go, I would exclude the word "dirty", as that has negative connotations (with sexist undertones) that may increase the discomfort of the situation. – feelinferrety Sep 5 '18 at 14:57
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I would inform another female coworker, and ask her to inform the girl of the stain while NOT informing the girl that she heard about it from someone else. Certain women experience shame from menstruation. No, no one can be absolutely positive of anything. But a menstruation stain on white jeans is a pretty easy one to read!

I'm male and I wouldn't put a girl in the position of having a man tell her about it. Almost any woman would gladly cooperate with such a plan, especially if you express that it's for the girl's sake, not yours, that you are asking.

6

I'd quickly communicate to a female friend of hers - who need not necessarily be a friend of yours, just someone you are certain is likely to do the right thing for her - that their friend "--- has some sort of unsightly mark on her trousers. Would you mind mentioning it to her?". It's best for a female to interface with a personal and female issue, and there's no need to say that it's been recognised as a period stain.

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    Isn't this exactly the same answer as the one from Awesome? – pipe Apr 29 '18 at 13:53
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    I'm emphasizing that the person asked to communicate the information should be a known friend of the lady, so not just (any) other female co-worker - who may, but perhaps may not, look to do the best for the person the OP is seeking to help. I'm also saying that there's no need to mention that it has been recognised as a period stain by a male colleague, however easy it might have been for him to identify it as one. A quick change of clothes, supported by the OP's ongoing discretion, might mean that the embarrassment and social consequences amount to little and are soon forgotten. – Geoff Kendall Apr 30 '18 at 8:32
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How do I tell a woman that her pants have a menstruation stain?

A stain on white jeans is a pain. One could just point out there is a stain from sitting on something and leave it at that.

I would simply say this as a dad knowing my daughters would be so embarrassed if it was not pointed out to them. Also wearing white jeans is a high risk strategy, lol.

I put the argument being put forward the other way round, to not point it out is just to not help someone about a situation that could make them look bad, rather than being embarrassed about it, because no woman would not want to know asap. If you have a woman caught short you know the panic this creates and sympathy and support is what they need to deal with a purely biological problem of life.

To put it simply guys are often clueless.

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Put up an obviously joking voice and go "Girl, you really shouldn't be wearing white on your period! Count your days!"

That's a joke, but the point is, if you clarify you think it's not a big deal, she won't think it's a big deal. Signal your comfort, in whichever way you do, and don't press the issue from a gender perspective bc holy moley that triggers people nowadays. ('period stain', 'women's stain', no - just 'stain' or 'spot' will have to do)

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