I wet my pants at my new job

A reader writes:

I am writing to you in a state of extreme mortification. I, a full-fledged adult, wet my pants at work. What makes this worse is that this is a brand new job that I absolutely love, but now I’m thinking about just quitting and never showing my face there ever again.

For context: I am a woman who had several medical procedures last year that left me with some minor bathroom issues. I’m working on these things with my doctor, and I’ve never had a problem, until today.

I work at the front desk in a pretty small office. I was super busy and rushing around all day and I didn’t have much time to myself. Towards the end of my shift, I finally got to sit down, started responding to some emails, and well, without much warning, the floodgates opened, so to speak. I sat in shock for a few seconds. All I could even think to do was quickly pack up, hold my backpack and jacket awkwardly over my backside, shove my chair under my desk, and book it out of there. Since it was the end of my shift anyway, I just went home to change and cry.

I don’t think anyone actually noticed (they were all in their offices and very busy), but I can’t stop thinking what if someone actually did see? How do I show my face at work tomorrow? How do I explain to someone why I’m scrubbing down my office chair? Blame it on spilled coffee? Just never go to work again?

I’m not sure how much actual advice you can give me, but I would appreciate anything you and your readers have to say. I feel so awful and embarrassed.

I swear to you that I am saying this because I believe it and not because I’m trying to make you feel better: I doubt that anyone noticed.


It doesn’t sound like anyone was around when it happened — you were sitting at your desk, and it sounds like you got yourself out of there really fast.

And really, if anyone did notice your pants being wet, they’d most likely assume you spilled something or sat in something. After all, isn’t that what you’d default to thinking if you noticed someone with wet pants? People tend to think, “Oh no, she sat in something — that sucks!” not “Oh, she wet her pants.”

The same thing goes for your chair — if someone sees you cleaning it, the most likely assumption is going to be that you spilled something. People spill things at work all the time! Wiping down a chair is not going to be connected in most people’s minds with bladder accidents, I promise.

Plus, if anyone asks about it (which I doubt they will), you are entirely allowed to make up a cover story about what you spilled and even joke about it.

Truly, it is HIGHLY UNLIKELY that anyone knows about this. The best thing you can do here is erase it from your mind and go on as if it never happened, because I put large sums of money on the likelihood that no one in your office has any idea.

{ 514 comments… read them below }

  1. Daniel*

    Oh noooooo.

    But, as Alison says–it’s very unlikely that anyone noticed, given the circumstances (end of the day + people holed up in their offices). Good to hear that you’re working with your doctor in terms of this, but you probably won’t have to worry about other people.

    1. The Original K.*

      It really does sound like no one noticed. And it’s very unlikely that someone will ask why OP is cleaning the chair. I certainly wouldn’t ask why if I saw someone cleaning their chair.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Right! And not because you’re thinking “oh, I better not embarrass them in case they’re cleaning up pee” but because you’d just assume it was something boring like water or coffee.

        1. The Original K.*

          I take spinning classes regularly and it’s common/expected practice to wipe down the bikes after every use, so I’m used to wiping down stuff and seeing stuff wiped down. It honestly wouldn’t even register with me.

        2. blackcat*

          I mean, worst case, if I saw a woman scrubbing her chair, I’d be worried about a period that came on fast and furious. I wouldn’t say anything, but I would make sure the bathroom was stocked with supplies.

          1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

            This was me! I thought that exact thing and wouldn’t ask anything save “Do you need help?”

            1. Caterpie*

              Me too! Ours at work used to be, but they stopped because someone/people kept taking everything that was there all for themself quickly after it was stocked.

              But back to OPs letter I would assume they were just cleaning a spilled beverage if I saw a coworker cleaning a chair. I’m unfortunately one of those people that spills drinks down the front of my shirt and onto the chair all the time.

          2. BadWolf*

            And I’d generally appreciate that the person cleaned the chair…and didn’t just leave it or swap it for another chair, leaving a gross chair somewhere.

            And I’d feel bad for the person. But don’t worry, I’ve had “accidents” of all variety.

          3. SinSA*

            That happened with a potential candidate who was meeting with one of my attorneys, who then mentioned to me/my associate that there was period blood on her office chair and could I clean it?

            1. Ego Chamber*

              Gross, but at least she told someone. When I worked at a call center, it was fairly common for this to happen and then not tell anyone. Did I mention we didn’t have assigned seats and everyone just sat wherever each day? Yeah…

          4. Media Monkey*

            i had this happen to me (i was on a client call and was stuck for the best part of an hour knowing i was leaking). I took my cardigan off, chucked it over the chair seat when i stood up and dashed to the loo, where i also cleaned up the back of my skirt. i left my cardigan on my chair overnight and came in a bit early the next day to clean up. I claimed I had spilled a cup of coffee over my chair. and then cursed the (clearly male) facilities people who ordered pale blue chairs.

        3. AVP*

          Honestly it’s just such an unlikely thing to happen in an office that even if someone was cleaning up a pool of yellow liquid that smelled like urine, I don’t think this would be my first guess on what happened, and it’s super unlikely that anyone will think twice if you’re cleaning up your chair area. OP please go forth and memory-hole this!

      2. Sloan Kittering*

        Also TBH you could probably just “spill” water on the chair and then scrub it if you’re really worried that people will notice. Or bring a half empty bottle of sprite to sit conspicuously on your desk and blame that. Not that i think anybody would notice, but more that I might prefer a cover story to comfort myself.

        1. valentine*

          I would spill tea, coffee, or juice on the seat and desk, and clean the seat with baby wipes (because that’s what they’re for, plus, lovely, soft scent) and the desk with a stronger scent, like OxiClean or Windex. #distraction

          I admire your quick thinking and speed, OP. If you would feel more secure, disposable adult incontinence underwear is super-absorbent and not bulky. For further absorbency and privacy, you can line them with menstrual pads and switch those out, rather than tossing the underwear at work.

          1. Harper the Other One*

            Yeah, I have no medical conditions but after 2 babies, a bad coughing fit can still occasionally prove too much for the pelvic muscles! I wear the absorbent pads when I have a cough just for my own peace of mind.

            1. Artemesia*

              There is also underwear designed for minor leaks– they look great not at all like a ‘product’ — they are literally called ‘pee proof underwear’ — not enough for the floodgates, but you could wear an incontinence pad just for peace of mind for a while coupled with underwear like this.

              If anyone sees you cleaning, ‘I managed to dump a whole cup of tea all over myself and my chair; I am so clumsy.’ And you do want to clean preferably with a product that neutralizes urine because it will smell. There are lots of products that do this just put some in a small bottle and bring it to work with you.

              Almost certainly no one noticed. It must still feel awful.

              1. Bar Manager*

                There’s a menstrual underwear called THINX that I love that can absorb an amazing amount of liquid! Might be worth checking out.

                1. Mari*

                  The same company that makes Thinx makes incontinence underwear called Icon. I own several pairs due to two kids and leaks from sneezing/coughing/exercise.

            2. Bodies Are Weird It's Okay*

              I once couldn’t make it to the bathroom in time (I was literally running as fast as I could at 8 months pregnant). I tied a sweater around my waist, thanked heavens I was in dark pants and left early. I was walking so it really only went in my pants.

              It happens! It happens! I promise if I saw you I would assume spilled food or send silent mental thoughts of sympathy!

            3. Leaky in CA*

              I have “stress based incontinence” – a laugh or cough and I leak. I finally figured out that it is due to genetics and catheterization in the hospital. My mother and sister have the same problem.

              I swear by the Poise #5 long pads. I buy them in bulk on Amazon. I call them “granny pads”. They are like menstrual pads, but designed for leakers. Saves wear and tear on your underwear, pants, furniture and nerves.

              Spill some coffee or tea on your chair, and clean it up. Wear a granny pad and go to work with confidence.

            4. Ophelia*

              Oh, yeah. I discovered the joys of a stomach bug after having had two kids, and it was NOT pretty. All that to say, OP, that so many of us have all sorts of reasons to have the same issue, and in addition to my conviction that–truly–no one noticed, even if someone did, the reaction would 100% be solidarity.

            5. Erin*

              Yep, I’m still dealing with this after having just one. It didn’t really become an issue until I went back to the gym and realized halfway through an aggressive treadmill run during an Orangetheory class that I was pretty much peeing down my leg the whole time. I was completely mortified but thankful my pants were black. Anyway, I ran into a friend a few classes later and I mentioned it to her in passing and she said it happens all the time to her. There are a lot of products on the market, similar to tampons that help with leakage if that is a concern, I think Poise makes them. But at the end of the day, no one is noticing and you can easily play it off. AND remember that this happens to a lot of people, for different reasons!

            6. Pad wearer for 20+ years*

              I’ve had an overactive bladder since middle school (fun huh?) & now as the Mom of a 1 year old, it’s worse.

              I highly recommend Poise brand pads. They’re absorbent but don’t add bulk to the look of whatever you’re wearing.

              On a funny note, my husband says my “superpower” is always knowing where a bathroom is. You’d be surprised how often you can help someone else with that skill too.

          2. Janie*

            Tena pads aren’t much thicker/more uncomfortable than a standard period pad, which might be nice if OP later leans more towards leakage than floodgates.

      3. NotReallyKarenWalker*

        Yes, exactly. Honestly, if I saw you wiping down your chair tomorrow morning, my reaction would probably be “oh no, what spilled? Need help?” and I’d accept just about any answer you came up with. It’s such a normal occurrence, I promise. And if anyone did see you dart out, you absolutely have full and unfettered license to blame it on general clumsiness and say you spilled a whole drink in your lap and didn’t realize how bad your chair was until you came back. To be honest, I’d spend the night convincing myself I spilled something and treating it that way, and walking in the door with utter confidence (and cleaning supplies) tomorrow because all you need to do is clean up a beverage spill. Hugs. Hang in there!

    2. pleaset*

      I was about to say the same thing. As soon as the OP wrote “I don’t think anyone actually noticed” I thought I’m almost certain they didn’t. Sh#t happens, people spill stuff. Whatever.

      I don’t want to be dismissive of the OP’s worries, but really, she should let it go.

    3. BodiesAreCray*

      OP, IT IS OKAY. Honestly. I 100% agree that nobody noticed this. Even in the small minute tiny minuscule chance someone did notice you were wet, they absolutely did not think you peed. Our bodies do a lot of crazy things, and that’s okay! I have literally been so sick that I had diarrhea while driving, and the seat in my car was totally fine. My pride recovered eventually. If you really want to cover your bases, spill coffee on your chair first thing in the morning. Under no circumstances should you do anything short of cover this up with lies.

  2. sunny-dee*

    Not to be nasty, but one time, I started my period WAY early. Like, 5 days early. I didn’t have anything with me and didn’t realize I had started until I was way past full flow. I had to do a similar duck out the door and washed my chair the next day, as best I could.

    Treat it like any other social faux pas — the polite thing is for everyone to pretend nothing happened. Either 1) no one noticed at all or 2) everyone gets that stuff happens (spills, accidents, etc) and you just go on. Just never, ever think of it again, for your own sake.

    1. Ms. Taylor Sailor*

      That’s another important point: even if someone did see it, the polite thing is to pretend nothing happened. Obviously it’s hard to not worry about what people are thinking, but it’s not even that unheard of and stuff happens! Hell, decent people would be sympathetic if they did notice it and not judge you for it.

      Something similar happened to me in high school. I didn’t even notice it, but one day in class (it was chemistry and we were working on a lab, so everyone was minding their own business), a super friendly girl in my class came up to me and gave me her sweatshirt to tie around my waist while I went to the nurses. I had no clue I was even bleeding through, but I was super gracious to her for it and my teacher was very understanding and I was able to get a new pair of pants!

      1. kbeers0su*

        And I think most people do just politely ignore. I definitely walked out of a meeting once while attempting to stay behind everyone else until I could awkwardly duck out the door because Aunt Flo came on hard and my tampon wasn’t holding. No one ever said anything- even when I came back a bit later in different pants. Had someone asked I’d have just joked about spilling coffee.

    2. Res Admin*

      This happened to a former CW. It wasn’t something that could be hidden in her case both because she was very open about it and because we had to replace her chair. No one would have noticed it otherwise. In fact, I sat next to her and didn’t know about it for over a week because I was busy working and it wasn’t that obvious.

    3. That bloody time*

      *disclamer for perhaps TMI about period mishap*

      Same, I once had a , ahem, fit/angle issue with my pad leaving a whole puddle of blood next to my chair the moment I stood up. I kicked out my male co-workers (who kindly asked no questions and never brought it up again) and my female co-worker kindly got me tissues and some water so I could clean it all up, and I then had to go take off my tights (luckily, my skirt had been spared).
      We laughed about it on the moment and then never brought it up again^^.

      Worked there happily until I moved.

      1. AVP*

        haha, I was on a road trip with a male coworker one time and mine came early out of nowhere! I announced that it was time for a gas station stop, enacted some emergency measures there, and later requested a CVS stop. No questions asked, no answers given, it was perfect.

      2. AJ*

        Oh my god, this also happened to me in an all day interview situation in another state. I was in a meeting in a plastic curved chair, and the angle my body/skirt/ legs was such that the moment all 12 or so of my soon-to-be coworkers stood to go, I realized there was an actual *pool of blood* collected in the chair beneath me. BUT: The angle of the chair and my body had been SO minutely perfectly aligned that it hadn’t gotten on my clothes… ever so narrowly. But I couldn’t leave a pool of blood in the chair!

        I fully panicked (interview! Another state! 11 start up dudes!) and then, in a moment of shocking grace, a random man set down a random paper towel roll on the table in front of me (in anticipation of some pizzas coming in for the engineers.) The stealthiest I’ve ever been in my life — grabbing a quick wad, wiping the chair while I was “gathering my things” and proceeding on to the dinner portion of the interview with a work-bag filled with bloody towels. Used all my period mishap karma in one go.

          1. valentine*

            Choir of angels: *sings*

            At first, I thought the guy noticed and was discreetly providing backup.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Our company just redid the conference rooms with fully mesh chairs and I’m now cringing at possible unintended consequences.

    4. Sloan Kittering*

      Yes yes this times a thousand. I have had to put my notebook on a chair and be like, no please please, everybody feel free to proceed me out. I’m going to linger here for no reason. No no, no need to ask if you can help me carry anything. Please just go!

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        I also once had to give a presentation to probably one hundred people, and as I stood up, I felt … well, let’s just say there was a concern (it was during that time of the month). I wasn’t sure if there was anything visible going on or not. I had to go all the way through the presentation telling myself that it was probably too dark in the room and I was too far away for most people to notice anything even if there was something going on. I distinctly remember being pissed that men never have to deal with things like this, while for me it’s a monthly issue! (After I finished and escaped, I concluded that it was extremely unlikely anyone would have noticed the stain that had resulted, but I did not know that).

        1. Judy Johnsen*

          I hate that many bathrooms are not stocked with pads and tampons anymore. Also, disposable underwear. We do this at work at our own expense.

        2. Janie*

          “I distinctly remember being pissed that men never have to deal with things like this, while for me it’s a monthly issue!”

          Plenty of men have periods and also have to deal with being misgendered because of them, so.

          1. Cassivella*

            Yes, it must be unimaginingly difficult for a man to have to “out” himself at work due to a period problem.

            1. Janie*

              Indeed. Like pregnancy, it’s also one of those things that can lead to increased violence or even death.

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I literally carry extra undies/pants around for this reason. Also that one time I ripped out my pants after bending over to grab something I had dropped, oops.

      PSA, an old toothbrush and carpet cleaner gets blood out of chair fabric if you’re worried about a stain *cough*

      1. Stephanie*

        Hydrogen peroxide gets blood out too, but I get that that isn’t something most people have in the office.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          That may bleach out the fabric though if left to sit, just as a caution. Not that it really matters. They’re office chairs, they’re all super gross and smell like butt ;)

          1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

            I laughed up my water at ‘smells like butt’.

          2. Caterpie*

            Super gross is right. I work with someone who uses their (cloth upholstered) office chair as a napkin…the sides of the seat are smeared with food to the point where you can see an outline of where their rear goes!

          1. Nic*

            I go through SO MUCH cat stain/odour remover, because it’s good for pretty much anything (and the cat makes a good excuse for needing it)!

            Cat vomits on carpet? Cat enzyme removal spray. Mum stays over and…coughs…while she’s snoozing on the sofa? Cat enzyme spray. Someone drops a knife covered in Marmite (also on the sofa)? Cat enzyme remover spray!

      2. HerGirlFriday*

        I also keep extra knickers in my office. Thanks to a rather difficult pregnancy, I also have a weak bladder sometimes and the occasional accident can happen, on top of the usual monthly risks. When I was pregnant, I also kept a spare pair of pants in my desk too.
        Manage what you can. Politely ignore if you notice another having a problem.
        FYI – There are some enzymatic good urine odor neutralizing products you can find at pet supply stores, just in case.

        1. Anonforthis*

          I was thinking that, too! I have some special cleaner at home that we bought when we were house-training our puppy, and it would probably work well for this too. But honestly, I’d be surprised if anyone even noticed. I keep extra undergarments and other hygiene items in my bag, too, because, well, I’m over 50 and I’ve had two children.

      3. RUKiddingMe*

        I haven’t had a period in about 10 years but because I’m older, female, and have had a baby I find it prudent to line my underwear with pads. Just one per day/change and I’m good to go for any ill timed cough, or laugh, or…

        1. Wherehouse Politics*

          I keep cotton pantiliners as I have unpredictable periods, and have had the sudden mini ooops from a hard fit of laughing, coughing or sneezing. Ladybits can breathe a little better in them. Not sure if they would do the trick for a floodgate situation though. There are normal looking non-granny panties that are sold for either heavy periods or urine.

          1. Kal*

            You can often find postpartum cloth pads, which would work for people who have issues with the texture of disposables, and would likely handle closer to the full floodgates than just the pantiliners or regular pads. Disposables dry out my bits, and that is a recipe for some serious chafe, so I’ve been using cloth pantiliners for years now, and they’ve been handling my absurd discharge, periods and minor leaks pretty well.

    6. BRR*

      I really hope I don’t make anything worse because it truly sounds like nobody noticed, but even if someone did this type of stuff happens to people all the time and people professionally ignore it. My manager once passed gas in our one-on-one and I just ignored it and moved on. IF someone noticed, which again it doesn’t sound like it happened, and IF someone says something, which is very unlikely (I mean, what would they say?), they’ll take their lead from you. I get that you’re mortified, I would be as well. But to others, I would hide that.

      1. GreenDoor*

        Twice I have bent over while seated only to have my menstrual flow burst out. Both times I thought I had lost my bladder, it was such a gush. Once was as a meeting was wrapping up and, like others, I threw my papers down on it and made sure I was the last one out & pushed the chair right into my office for a cleaning. I think women have an easier time of this – what woman hasn’t had a menstrual/pregnancy mishap/weak bladder moment? If push comes to shove, just call or flag over another woman and be matter-of-fact about it. Many times I’ve fetched the Cardigan of Secrecy for other gals. I’ve also had them come into my office sheepishly asking if I have any feminine supplies and I just hand over my special supply bag without even looking up. It’s no different with any body function. Stuff happens – professionals understand.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Haha me too; it sounds like a Harry Potter thing.

            Hermione raised her wand and said, “Accio Cardigan!”

            “New spell? What’s this about?” Ron asked, looking confused. “Will it be on the exam?”

            “Never mind,” Hermione said. Harry noticed her cheeks were pink.

            “Girl stuff,” Luna said dreamily.

            “But what kind—” he started to say, but Ginny took hold of his sleeve and dragged him away.

            “You really are thick,” she said. “Come on, Harry, you too. Let’s talk about Saturday’s Quidditch.”

            1. Galloping Gargoyles*


              OP, I agree with everyone else that you should bury this in your memory banks, never to be thought of again, and go back to work as usual. You’ve got this! Hopefully knowing that you’re not alone brings you some comfort. I have a dollar store bladder, which last year was downgraded to thrift store and then garage sale so I totally understand where you’re coming from. Good luck with the resolution with your doc.

          2. JJ Bittenbinder*

            It’s total Girl Code, the empathy and practicality that allows us to cover for a comfort one who has had a period leak*. I swear, 2 women could be in a fistfight but if one sprung a period leak, all assault would stop while the other fetched her a tampon or pad.

            *see also: pretending someone is your long-lost sorority sister or cousin’s college roommate and dragging her away from someone trying to pick her up who won’t take no for an answer.

            1. Lauren*

              Not just getting supplies – I saw worst enemies in high school not hesitate to offer up a jumper, or even just walk really really closely behind them, when someone had an unexpected leak and needed to cover up whislt they went to the bathroom. Our office had spare loaner uniforms for this exact event, which was pretty good.

        1. PeriodDrawer*

          I’m the only woman of menstruating age in our small team that has her own office. I have a stash of menstrual products in a drawer and am the women know they can go in and help themselves if they need to. I’d love to stock the bathroom, too, and we do at our other sites, but here we have to share with several thousand students and I can’t afford to sub them all!

    7. TootsNYC*

      I was at the Statue of Liberty with my college foreign-language professor (who had come to NYC during my internship there and we went on a tourist visit). So…

      Thank God a slightly older woman noticed and discreetly told me. I spent 30 minutes in the bathroom there. I don’t know what my professor noticed, but he never said anything.

      We all have biology.

    8. Chronic Illness Sufferer*

      This happened to me multiple times. I had extremely heavy periods because of the copper IUD and twice at work I bled through and destroyed my chair, it was awful. One time it happened AT AN OFFSITE CLIENT MEETING THAT I WAS THE PRESENTER FOR. I honestly wanted to disappear. I’m in a male dominated industry and the chairs were cream leather in their conference room. I was presenting to csuite and national directors. I had to tell them and they had to replace the chair. DEAD OF EMBARRASSMENT.

      I ended up having to go on intermittent FLMA for the issue and later was forced to have a hysterectomy. Brutal. OP, be gentle with yourself, its a medical issue and I honestly doubt anyone saw.

    9. Nobody Nowhere*

      It happened to me at a job interview with the State Department, which takes all day. Thank goodness for black suits, but I was so distracted & worried that someone would see a spot on my skirt or running out of supplies that I blew the interview.

    10. bonkerballs*

      Got mine way early and way heavy while wearing light gray linen pants and sitting on a white couch at a job interview. And then had to commute two and half hours home by bus and ferry.

    11. Lena Clare*

      Oh OP I’m sorry!

      But to reiterate the period stories. It hasn’t just happened once but 3 times to me in 2 different places of work.

      First time I had to tell a female co-worker I’d had a period accident and had to go home (45 minute drive there and back) to change.

      The second time I was in the middle of someone else’s house (I do home visits) when I felt myself come on. Luckily I was wearing my coat over my trousers and it was near the end of the visit so I wrapped the conversation up quickly and had to drive to the nearest store to buy pads, wet wipes, new underwear, and new trousers – yes it was that bad they were unsalvegeable!

      3rd time was just a small stain on the inside of my trousers which was uncomfortable during the day but not noticeable. I was able to wear pads until I got home then clean up.

      Look, I’m 45, my period comes 26 or 28 days, or sometimes 19 days, so I can’t wear protection all the live-long-month just in case!

      These things happen. You’ll be fine :)

      1. VictorianCowgirl*

        Ugh, solidarity on the irregular period cycles in your 40s! I’m just starting to experience it, and it’s for the birds.

        1. starsaphire*


          “It’s been six months, I haven’t had so much as a spot, I’m probably in full menoHOLY GOD WHAT IS THIS FLOODGATES OF HELL and why did it happen when I was 100 miles from home and wearing pastel slacks??!!”

      2. Happens*

        Not a period issue, but one time I was on blood thinners and nicked myself shaving. I didn’t realize I had bled through the bandaid until I realized my sock felt oddly wet.
        I had bled through my sock and my shoe onto the knee of my pants. When I stood up it looked like I’d been stabbed there was So. Much. Blood. I had to have a colleague open our first aid kit for gauze it was bleeding so much (and help me put it on…work mom for the win) and another coworker happened to have yoga leggings. I wore them for the rest of the day and borrowed another coworker’s shoes since mine was completely soaked through with blood.

        I’ve also peed my pants at work (medical issues as well) and can’t recommend pelvic floor PT and Poise Impressas enough.

    12. HollyWeird*

      Yep, came here to post something similar. A colleague got her period and stained her chair, so she ducked out to change and cleaned the chair when she got back. Her manager knew and I was told about it when I came over so I wouldn’t sit in the chair while I chatted with them before it got cleaned up. Probably I didn’t need to know so much detail, just “the chair got spilled on” would have sufficed, but either way it wasn’t something I thought about afterwards nor did I judge the colleague for an accident.

    13. anon time this time*

      Oh period stuff! I dropped my car for service at the mechanic’s near my client’s office and while standing and talking to him I felt a little…pop? sensation. It was the last day of my typical 7-day period and I’d forgotten to wear a panty liner but had thought, well, it’s no big deal on the last day, don’t really need anything anyway. Somehow it was like a whole second period burst forth. I was wearing dark pants and walked quickly to a nearby funky coffee shop that fortunately had a single-person bathroom. If only they’d had an air hand dryer. I had to strip down and wash my pants and underwear, then clean up the whole area. It was like a crime scene in there. So. Much. Blood. I dried as well as I could with paper towels and then proceeded to the client’s office. Thank goodness she was female but we didn’t know each other well. I sat on newspaper.

      The OP has my sympathy. I get why she’s embarrassed but I also believe no one noticed and if I was there and did see, I’d never judge her.

      1. JJ Bittenbinder*

        I had the “oh, ha ha, you thought your period ended the day before yesterday but here’s round 2” burst while standing in a long, slow line waiting to get through TSA at SeaTac. I was in danger of missing my flight and just…stuck.

        1. VictorianCowgirl*

          I unapologetically stuck my hands in my pants with a ball of kleenex in a similar situation. Nightmare!

      2. Auntie Social*

        I had a pop/gush like that and it wouldn’t stop so I went to the emergency room sitting on a beach towel (hey, I’m from San Diego). And no one at the hospital thought it was a big deal, even though I could see that I was soaking through a giant beach towel. I mean, think about it. I’m sitting on six inches of fabric and it’s not helping. And I sat and sat, and was polite in the ER–til I had had enough, stood up at the front counter, and took away the beach towel. I think I had a fibroid torsion, because things fell out of me like water balloons–they even went ‘splat’. Which was enough to gross out everyone waiting in the ER waiting room–screams and everything–and get me seen. It was embarrassing but after hours of waiting, the hell with it. Must. see. doctor.
        Don’t know whatever happened to that beach towel. . . .

    14. MissDisplaced*

      Same! Major overflow issues due to menopause and went through several layers to the chair. Ugh!

      No one noticed. It was in my cubicle though.

    15. B9nzaSonza*

      I had this too! The chair was soiled beyond repair as were my trousers. I flagged a female colleague down, and she ran and bought me a new pair of pants while I wheeled the “broken” chair down to the storage room with my cardigan wrapped around my waist.

      My face was as red as a tomato all day, but even though my embarrassment was obvious no-one one ever, ever let on that they had noticed anything.

      Also, three children later and I’m exclusively wearing period panties. Life changing. Enough said.

      Truly, it’s happened to us all and you will recover!

    16. Glad I Do Not Work There Anymore*

      Yup! Got blood alllllllllll over myself and a chair at work after I got an IUD and my menstrual cycle went from “no big deal” to “unexpectedly explosive”!

      The worst part is I had to tell my manager and she sent me home…but then the top manager wrote me up for an “unexcused absence” and said if it happened again I’d be fired because, you know, call centers…ugh!

    17. Beth*

      Periods are the WORST for this. They start early. They’re heavier than expected. A tampon bleeds through. A pad slips out of position. A meeting goes longer than expected and you thought you’d be ok anyways but all of a sudden there’s a last-minute gush. You thought it was done yesterday but then you get a surprise round 2.

      There’s always something that can go wrong, and when it does, all of a sudden you’re left with a bloody chair and maybe stained clothes and probably nothing good on hand to wash it off with (especially if it’s an upholstered chair, in which case it might just be ruined).

      People who get periods have them, on average, several days of every month for several decades of our lives. So even if we manage it perfectly 99% of the time, pretty much all of us are going to have a problem come up at least once or twice. But that doesn’t stop it from feeling humiliating, especially when it’s layered on top of cramps and hormones and having to deal with all the fluid for several days. The worst.

      1. Lena Clare*

        Yes, it’s true! I’ve been reading this and thinking so glad I’m not the only one :)

    18. Radio Girl*

      Been there. That’s why I keep an emergency provisions kit in my desk. I include a neutral colored change of clothing, and extra pads. And stain remover spray.

  3. Washi*

    Honestly, who hasn’t peed their pants as an adult at some point? Maybe not to that degree, but I think a lot more people than you imagine can sympathize.

    And I agree with Alison, I seriously doubt anyone noticed.

      1. Four lights*

        Exactly. No one talks about incontinence, but I think it’s a common issue for women at one point or another.

        1. Ms. Taylor Sailor*

          I feel so dumb for saying this as someone in their mid-20’s, but I had no clue there was even a word for it until recently and, without going into detail, am thrilled it’s not as uncommon as I thought it was.

          1. RabbitRabbit*

            Heck, Always (the menstrual pad company) even makes urinary incontinence-specific panty liners and pads. It can kind of happen as you get into middle age or so. (And now I’m going to furiously do Kegel exercises.)

            1. Ethyl*

              Yep I turned 40 not all that long ago and was very surprised when I had bronchitis and those horrible long coughing fits were causing leakage! Bodies are terrible and everyone has one. LW, I’m sorry you are feeling so mortified but nobody probably noticed and it’s going to be ok even if they did. Hang in there.

              1. wondHRland*

                THIS, 10000 times. I haven’t had any real medical issues, excpet pregnancy, but a good sneeze or coughing fit, and i’m feeling like I need to wear diapers. You’re not alone, and I’m willing to bet no one noticed.

                Go back to work, head held high, and maybe just keep some femine supplies on hand in case of a repeat. no one is going to judge (and those that do, the HECK with them).

              2. JJ Bittenbinder*

                Yep, I went home sick recently, half because of the coughing and sneezing I was experiencing, and half because I had urinary leakage every time I coughed or sneezed and there were no pads in the office. Thank goodness for black tights and loose skirts!

              3. OhBehave*

                YES! That damn cough. Ugh.
                I’ve had two kids too so add that weakness to the mix.

              4. wittyrepartee*

                I’m in my 30s with no kids, and had some horrible combination of bronchitis and asthma and maybe pneumonia for months. The gaskets on neither my stomach nor bladder have been strong enough for the coughing I was experiencing a month ago.

            2. Ms. Taylor Sailor*

              Not gonna comment much more at the risk of going off-topic (and definitely wanna save some stuff for the next open thread), but I got some Always liners a couple months ago and LOVE them!

          2. History Chick*

            After having *multiple* accidents of the peeing variety (at work, in public, in an arts and crafts store with my father), I ended up in something called pelvic floor physical therapy, which has been life changing! The OP said she’s working on the issue with her doctor, which is great. I just wanted to weigh in to agreeing that incontinence issues are not uncommon. I thought it shouldn’t happen to me because I’ve never had babies. But my physical therapist – who I just love and adore and who has entirely changed my life surrounding this issue – says that 95% of her work is with women on this issue, that we need to talk about it more openly, and that she has been seeing a positive uptick in women discussing with other women and learning they are not alone!

            1. Asenath*

              One of my friends who had pelvic floor surgery also did exercises after the surgery – her doctor referred her to a physio who had done special courses in the female pelvic area. My friend swears by it, although she says it’s really important to do the exercises regularly.

              I manage with keeping pads handy since my problems are not severe enough (yet!) for physio.

              These problems are very, very common, and even so, most people who see wet on you or a chair will probably assume some drink was spilled.

            2. only acting normal*

              IIRC in France it is standard for everyone who gives birth to have pelvic floor physio afterwards. Shame its not more common everywhere.

              1. Pee No More!*

                Seriously, I want to scream from the rooftop – PELVIC FLOOR PHYSIO!!! I had no idea about this until attending a group chat during maternity leave and promptly booked myself an appointment. There are soooo many wonderful people out there (not just Moms,and all sorts of Moms regardless of birthing experience, and not just females) who would benefit from pelvic floor physiotherapy. Peeing your pants (or painful sex) isn’t something that anyone should have to live with.

            3. Epiphyta*

              I have just started this, after two months of pain and a whole lot of bloodwork, a CT scan and a cystoscopy turned up nothing; the woman urologist who saw me referred me to a specialist who diagnosed pudendal neuralgia (compression of the perineal nerves), weak pelvic floor muscles and a slight uterine prolapse, and packed me off to pelvic floor PT.

              To anyone telling you “Just practice your Kegels!” (including my soon-to-be-former doctor), my PT told me about a study a few years back in which all of the participants had ticked the box saying “I know how to do a Kegel exercise correctly”: when they actually started? Seven out of ten were doing something completely ineffective.

              We absolutely need to be talking about this. Only 25% of the women dealing with pelvic pain/incontinence ever seek help. Childbirth and menopause don’t condemn you to this.

              1. Pee No More!*

                Agreed…and for some even proper Kegels can be a problem (if your pelvic floor is tight that needs to be addressed before working on Kegels)

            1. Ms. Taylor Sailor*

              Definitely don’t be embarrassed, about not knowing or your situation! Just like Four lights said, no one ever talks about it and I’m thrilled Four lights brought it up. Also thrilled things are going well per your update!

              1. JJ Bittenbinder*

                While I’m grateful that the list of Things No One Tells You is being eroded, it pisses me off (heh) that there are so many things women have been taught not to discuss.

                1. Bow Ties Are Cool*

                  I am a woman in my mid-40s and only recently learned that “period sh*ts” are a pretty common thing.

        2. JanetM*

          I have noticed that since menopause, the interval between, “I am aware that I need to go to the bathroom,” and “I have to change my underwear,” has become much, much shorter.

          1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome*

            So glad I’m not the only one in that boat!!! And God forbid I laugh too hard….

          2. BadWolf*

            Yes! In the past, I could say I’ll wait until I get home. Now I say, use bathroom then head home.

          3. Harper the Other One*

            LOL I’m just starting menopause but I can already tell this will be a trend for me!

          4. Tammy*

            As I’ve mentioned here before I’m a transgender woman, and I have the same problem for different reasons. (Post-surgery nerve weirdness.) I’m so glad this post exists, because I’ve learned some things today that I didn’t already know about how to manage that. A thousand thank yous, everyone who’s been willing to be vulnerable and share today!

          5. Olivia Mansfield (formerly Mallory Janis Ian)*

            Yes! I have to wear a light padded liner, and I still carry an extra pair of underpants, fresh pads, and the little foil packets of folded-up wipes in case I have a cough or sneeze that causes the surge to overwhelm the pad.

        3. Anonymeece*

          I always thought it was something that happened after you had kids or you were in your 40s, but … yeah, I’ve had some issues. It happens, OP! I’m sure no one noticed, and if they did, lying is perfectly acceptable for anyone rude enough to ask. “Oh, just spilled some water! I was so embarrassed: new job and everything!”.

          1. sunny-dee*

            FWIW, I had a C-section, so I haven’t had any issues after my pregnancy, but I understand it’s really common for women with vaginal childbirth.

            Bodies are weird and weird things happen.

        4. Clorinda*

          That’s why there’s a whole aisle devoted to incontinence supplies in every drugstore. Space=money. Those things wouldn’t be there unless many, many people need them. OP, stock up on some supplies just in case it takes a while to get yourself sorted out, and carry on with life.
          You should probably ‘spill’ a clear soda or something on your chair so that you can clean it thoroughly and not have it smell like pee, though.

        5. MintLavendar*

          I’m just adding in here for support… I have a friend, a young and vibrant woman in her 20’s, who has incontinence and has to be super careful about timing her bathroom breaks, and I’ve watched her just pee on a street corner walking to the metro because, that’s all she could do! It happens. Life is complicated. Get yourself a new chair if you can, and don’t worry about it!

      2. Merci Dee*

        So did I. And, even though I’m 14 years post-pregnancy, I still wear undergarment protection every time that I get bronchitis, because I know I’m going to cough so much that chances for leakage are high. Believe me when I tell you that I learned this lesson the hard way once or twice.

        We’ve all been there at some point, and can certainly empathize with an accident like this.

        1. animaniactoo*

          co-sign bronchitis and what my friend fondly terms the “peeing cough”.

          The older I get, the less control I can manage in the middle of a coughing fit.

          1. Merci Dee*

            Word. And absolutely forget it if I’m laughing about something, and that throws me into a subsequent coughing fit. All I can do is just cross my legs and crab-walk as gracefully as possible to the bathroom (usually still between snorts of laughter and subsequent coughs).

          2. Stephanie*

            Oh God yeah, I had bronchitis two months ago and pretty much had to change underwear twice a day due to the peeing cough.

          3. Ethyl*

            Omg I clearly didn’t read down far enough because I just commented that this very thing was quite a surprise when I got bronchitis recently, being now “in my 40s.” Glad to know it’s A Thing!

        2. starsaphire*

          I thought I’d be immune to this phenomenon, because I never had children — but at some point between forty and fifty, I learned the hard way that I needed to wear pads and carry spare knickers every time I had a cold.

          You are not alone, OP, and I’m so sorry. But it does happen, and I promise you there is nothing to be afraid of or ashamed about.

          1. Ralkana*

            I’m 39 now and I’ve noticed in the last few months, both the frequency I need to go pee and the ease with which accidents happen have increased. It’s awful. Especially as someone with allergies, who sneezes all day long.

          2. M*

            YES! I have a very bad cold right now and yesterday my toddler thought it was hilarious that we both peed our pants at the same time!! I didn’t think it was quite as funny…

            I can’t tell you how much this post has helped me; just knowing this is something others are dealing with is a huge relief.

        3. NotSoNewMom*

          I have found pelvic floor PT to be extremely helpful with this issue. It is possible to resolve, but generally you need specific (to you, prescribed by PT) exercises.

          1. Kuododi*

            Yes to pelvic floor therapy!!! I actually had no idea this was an option to aid in addressing these issues. My GYN recommended it a few months ago to help with related “lady” concerns. It has been nearly miraculous as far as affecting positive change. Best wishes.

    1. LizB*

      Especially in a busy day at a new job when you’re learning everything and focused on everybody but yourself! I don’t think I’ve full-fledged peed myself yet, but I’ve definitely had situations where if I had been delayed even a few seconds in my sprint to the bathroom, I’d have needed clean pants. I’m sure it will happen at some point in the rest of my adult life.

    2. Stuff*

      I totally did at a dinner party – I had some issues with fibroids that would make it very sudden sometimes and it was at a winery so the bathroom was suuuuuuper far away and I didn’t make it. It happens. I know that doesn’t help in the moment but hope it helps a little that it happens to more people than you might think.

    3. Anonymous for this :)*

      *raises hand* I’m 34!

      Less than a year ago, I was on vacation in an African country and took the “stay hydrated” and “stay rested” recommendations from the tour guide TO HEART and ended up wetting the bed—like, A LOT—the second night there. I was so sound asleep I had NO idea anything had happened until I woke up around 7am the next morning.

      I spoke to our tour guide and she was able to talk to the hotel management to get the bedding/mattress removed and swapped out for a clean one. SO embarrassing, but also…stuff happens.

      Now I can laugh about it (And, thank the LORDT I was alone in my room.), but OMG it was so embarrassing at the time. But to agree with Alison above: I bet NO ONE noticed your work faux pas!

    4. Eirene*

      The flu did it to me. For two weeks straight. Every single time I coughed. I was fortunate that I was able to take time off/work from home for the majority of it, but the two days I went into the office I wound up going to the bathroom at least twice an hour to minimize the damage when I coughed and mentally rehearsed a lie about being clumsy and spilling tea on myself (I’m a bit clumsy and have been known to knock over drinks in my enthusiastic talking, so not a stretch). After the first day of it, I packed a duffel bag with some extra clothes as a just-in-case. It sucked and you have my sympathies.

      But it really does sound like you made it out of there scot-free, which is great! The best/worst thing about being a person is that very few of the people we think are paying attention to our every move actually are doing that. Most of us are too busy worrying about ourselves to notice the stuff that other people are worrying about for themselves.

    5. toby flenderson is my spirit animal*

      New mom here, I can 100% confirm that I’ve had a couple of very minor mishaps in public myself. My motto is “if I’m sneezing, I’m squeezing”. No one has ever noticed.

      Don’t worry about it. If anyone is ever rude enough to bring it up, just give them a very vague, chilly response and move on with your life.

    6. Frances*

      And furthermore, I think most people would assume it was a medical issue, and therefore something private, if they even noticed it happen. I know that if I noticed a co-worker had peed their pants, I would have sympathy for them and never speak of it to anyone.

      1. Katie*

        Cosign. If I ever noticed (which is unlikely), I would think there was perhaps a medical issue and have sympathy but would proceed as if nothing happened. These sort of things happen. Bodies are weird and do weird things!

    7. Oryx*

      *Raises hand*

      Laughing fit with a full bladder. It was that awkward realization of “I really should go use the restroom before I pee my pants” combined with “OMG if I move I will pee my pants” and then, well.

      1. YouCanGoHomeAgain*

        Yes, this. Having to get there, but not being able to. :( Almost happened to me a time or two.

      2. Changing my name...and my pants*

        Uh, this happened to me on a first date. We’d been hanging out for a couple hours so luckily it worked fine to say I had to get going. He was way taller than me so I just walked close to him hoping he wouldn’t look that far down. Pretty positive he didn’t notice, and we ended up dating for a couple years. I never told that story though!

    8. CommanderBanana*

      My two doggos both had puppies before they were rescued (one I think more than one litter) and no medical care, and the interval between them needing to pee and peeing is very short (as in, as SOON as they wake up we hustle outside and if they are happily jumping around they may dribble) and the vet said it’s just the same as humans. The gaskets, so to speak, just aren’t as effective as it they were pre-puppies.

    9. Amber Rose*

      I once wet myself riding a horse. It’s harder to control when your legs are spread and you can’t cross them, turns out. I was a younger adult and horrified beyond belief, so I pretended to fall in a nearby stream. Which was probably worse, because while etiquette will prevent people from mocking you for wetting yourself, no such protection exists for toppling into a stream. =P

      The horse was chill about it at least.

      1. Anonymous for this :)*

        OMG, this reminded me of the other time I wet my pants as an adult (lol). I was home from college and went running in the neighborhood. Right at the end of my second mile, it just HIT me out of nowhere: I had to pee, couldn’t hold it. I peed all over myself. Thankfully, a house close by was watering their yard so I ran over there and “fell down” into the sprinklers and cleaned myself off a bit. Ha!

        1. C*

          Oh, this reminds me of the time I ran a 5K and it was really hot and I was pushing it. When I finished I sort of flopped down on the grass to catch my breath and I just started…leaking with every heartbeat.

          I went and jumped in a lake. Fortunately the beach was right there and my running clothes are not unlike a tankini & shorts…

          1. londonedit*

            I’ve run a few marathons, and at some point in my training I was talking to a woman in my running club who was a regular marathon runner. She mentioned that she never bothers actually finding a loo when she needs a wee during a long run, or especially a race where you’re trying to hit a specific time – she just wees as she’s running along. At first I thought ‘Eek, I don’t know if I could do that’, but realistically? I always wear black leggings/tight shorts, and not a lot of wee actually comes out when you’re running, and by the time you’ve run a marathon you’re covered in sweat and pretty gross anyway, so it’s the easiest thing all round!

            And let’s not forget the famous Paula Radcliffe incident, where she stopped for a ‘comfort break’ and just pulled her shorts to the side…and that wasn’t just a wee!

    10. SusanIvanova*

      When I broke my ankle, my body didn’t get the message that I needed more than a minute advance warning that I was going to have to extract myself from the sofa and clomp my way those massive 20 steps to the bathroom.

      1. Auntie Social*

        Ah, the Kurt Gibson limping home run. I just did something to my Achilles tendon, I completely get it.

    11. MJ*

      I was just reminiscing with my husband about the fart that wasn’t when we were driving home from a city 3 hours away. we were only 20 minutes from home and I said “just keep going I’ll deal with this at home”, but I was 32 years old and to this day have no idea what allowed that to happen.

      1. BadWolf*

        Traveling abroad and having an unstable stomach will have a similar effect…Never has a bucket shower of hot water felt so welcome.

      2. London Calling*

        Yep, have done that at work, luckily near the end of the day. I had to scrub myself in the ladies with wet toilet paper, shove the knickers in a handy plastic bag and go home commando, probably smelling more than a little rank.

        And have wet myself coughing or sneezing more times than I can recall.

      3. pugsnbourbon*

        +1. If you haven’t pooped your pants at least once as an adult, I don’t trust you.

      4. Rebecca in Dallas*

        I am a distance runner and let me tell you, people have accidents. At some point in time, every single one of my running friends has had to unexpectedly pee or poop while on a run and sometimes there just isn’t a porta-potty around. We’ve all been there, $h!t happens and we move on!

        1. Olivia Mansfield (formerly Mallory Janis Ian)*

          Not even just running! I went out for a walk after a long period of sedentary behavior, and the urgent need struck me just when I was about 15 minutes out from my house. I kept looking for the construction porta-potties that used to dot the neighborhood when they were building the new subdivision, but no such luck.

        2. JJ Bittenbinder*

          Ugh, and when you’re a mile from home and can’t get there. Like, do I run faster because it will get me to the toilet faster, or do I run slower because speeding up jostles my intestines too much…?

      5. OhNo!*

        This! I used to go walking in the woods behind my building on lunch breaks. One day, a good half mile from the office, it just happened. I literally dropped trou behind a tree hoping no one would happen across me, but I was too late and had to deal with the fallout in the office bathroom after walking all the way back like that.

        Thankfully I changed into workout pants for my walk or I would have just disappeared for the rest of the day (or my life) if I had to work in those pants.

    12. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I’m mid-30s (with friends in the 25-45 range) and literally cannot name a single woman in my life who hasn’t peed her pants for non-drunken-stupor-related reasons. I’m convinced all women experience incontinence at some point in life, based solely on anecdotal information.

      Don’t be embarrassed or ashamed, OP. Bodies are gonna do what they do, and the rest of us will pretend nothing happened as you deal with whatever needs dealing with. I’d bet dollars to donuts that no one noticed.

      1. Shirin*

        Classic is fumbling with your keys and peeing your pants because you can’t open the front door fast enough. Happened to me and to at least two of my girlfriends as sober adults. We are all in our mid twenties and none of us have been pregnant or given birth yet. Accidents like that are way more common than most people think.

        1. JJ Bittenbinder*

          What is it about the urge to pee getting so much stronger, and the ability to hold it getting so much weaker, the closer you are to the toilet??

          1. Artemesia*

            I am old and have occasional issues with all this — but the worst is when I am literally in the bathroom unbuttoning my pants. It is fine and then when I head for the can my bladder just says ‘oh are we going to pee now, okay let’s do it’ and I end up needing new underwear when I am literally one step and one zip from the toilet. Oddly wearing a belt which I have to unbuckle sort of cured this. The independent bladder has learned that unbelting has to occur. Weird.

            1. VictorianCowgirl*

              You both are making me laugh, I can so relate to this, I’ll be fine in the car then fumbling with keys or unbuttoning pants and I’m having a dang emergency.

          2. Shirin*

            I’ve learned there is even a name for it, it’s called “latchkey incontinence”. There are literally millions of women who’ve had an accident in such a situation. Women are way more prone to these kind of incidents because of our anatomy. Young or old, tipsy or sober, having given birth or not. It doesn’t matter, accidents can happen. And they do happen much more often than we think, it’s just that we never talk about them.


      2. Ellie*

        I haven’t at work but I have several times at home, while still on maternity leave. They really should give better warning about that side effect! Fortunately it settled down for me on its own, but I guarantee, every woman with children has been there, and lots of other people have too.

        What I have done at work though, first day back from my second maternity leave, was have my breast leak all over my top, etc. because my daughter was still breastfeeding and I went too long between pumps. It was at the end of the day, I got out of there fast, but I’m 100% sure my two older single male deskmates saw it. I’m forever grateful that they are kind, polite people who have never mentioned it again.

        You can get through this OP – you’ve done nothing wrong, accidents happen. Just get back in and clean that chair and if anyone asks, you spilt your drink and left early to change.

    13. gmg22*

      The “this is a thing after menopause” stories are giving me (mid-40s) pause, because in my case it’s always been a little bit of a thing, even though I haven’t ever given birth — big sneezes or coughing fits are dangerous when I already have to go. I suspect the culprit may be the bladder surgery (ureteral reimplantation) I had at age 4. So it’s good to know that I might need to be prepared for a ramping up of this challenge sooner rather than later, LOL!

      1. Snarktini*

        Hey, I had a uretal reimplantation too! When I was a wee baby. I’m also in my mid-40s and only recently have I had any issues, but my epic sneezing fits occasionally get me. Reading all this does not give me hope for my future. :/

    14. Shirin*

      So much this.

      I don’t know anyone who has peed themselves at work. I know of 3 women however who have peed themselves on their porch on the way home from work because they couldn’t unlock the front door in time. Neither of them were old or had even been pregnant yet.

      Yes, I am one of them.

      1. London Calling*

        Hopping up and down on the step trying to unlock the door with one hand and undoing your jeans with the other….

      2. londonedit*

        Yes, absolutely. I commute home on public transport, there are loos at the Tube station, usually it’s not a problem, but on the odd occasion I’ve made a stupid decision and thought ‘Meh, I sort of need the loo but I’m not far from home, it’ll be fine’. Then by the time I get off the bus I’m doing a crazy race-walking waddle and frantically scrabbling for my keys!

        1. Shirin*

          Yep, so many times! Usually I make it but one time I didn’t and found myself standing there on the doorstep with wet pants and a puddle around my feet… There was nothing I could do about it.

      3. gmg22*

        Ohhh, this is so a thing, isn’t it. I am so very grateful that I have a half-bath just inside my front door, is all I’m saying.

    15. Jenno*

      Seriously, if another woman straight up told me “I peed myself” I’d be like, yup, been there done that. I got a Poise pad in my purse – you want it?

  4. Cymru*

    Don’t worry, nobody noticed. And if they’re decent people, they won’t care, and that’s the kind of person you want to work with.

    To (potentially) avoid in future,
    Make an appointment for yourself in your calendar for the washroom and just go even if it feels like you don’t have to.

    1. Hello!*

      Totally agree with this. I set time reminders on my phone to take medications, get up and take a walk, etc. It is always good to have an extra reminder!

    2. Embarrassed OP*

      This is actually a fantastic idea. I get so wrapped up in my work, but a discreetly-named popup in my Outlook calendar will definitely help. Thank you!

      1. Stuff*

        I’d probably make it something like “you go girl!” so it seems like just some sort of motivation thing just in case it pops up where someone else can see it :)

        1. Anonandon*

          I just laughed so hard at this. Didn’t pee myself though. Luckily I’m right next to some water to trip into if it does happen!

          “You go, girl!” …LOL

        2. Venus*

          I often abbreviate to a letter or two when I set a personal reminder. ‘P’ would be an oddly appropriate (and sufficiently vague) subject line in this case…

      2. Pilcrow*

        There is a way to set up a daily recurring task in Outlook. Does the same thing, gives you a pop-up reminder at whatever time interval you choose. I used to have one set up to get a water refill before the cafeteria closed up in the afternoon.

        I liked the recurring task because it didn’t show up on my calendar. It only appeared in the task pane and when the reminder popped up.

      3. Rebecca in Dallas*

        This is a great idea! I have definitely gotten too wrapped up in my work before and all of a sudden realized I needed to pee BAD. Luckily (?) my desk is near the restroom.

    3. Marshbilly, not Hillbilly*

      My doctor recommended I set a reminder after I got diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis. My initial symptoms felt like a raging bladder infection, complete with bladder cramps (!), which meant I accidentally peed on myself or nearly so at work more than once.

      By the way, no one noticed, or if they did, they never said anything to me.

      I am lucky that I do not have a bad case of IC, it only flares up when I am super super SUPER stressed out. When I’m not having an exacerbation, you kind of get used to being continually aware of the walls of your bladder. So now, I have a hard time telling if there is urine in my bladder or if it is empty. My Fitbit reminds me to get 250 steps an hour, so when it buzzes 10 minutes before the hour, I usually take a trip to the restroom.

    4. MissDisplaced*

      Yes, make a reminder alarm, there are a couple of APPS for stretching, etc. that I’m sure can be adapted. And also you might want to wear some of the pads made for bladder leakage if you’ve got an ongoing medical issue.
      Given the products available on the market nowadays, this must be way more common than people think.

  5. Swirls*

    I super echo with Alison.

    Every time I’ve ever seen wet stains on people’s pants front/back I ALWAYS think ‘oh that’s an unfortunate spill, it looks like they’ve peed themselves’. I’ve never thought they actually have unless I witnessed it for myself.

    Definitely don’t sweat it. You can chalk it up to first day nerves that you spilled something on your seat, forgot about it, and then sat right on it. That is, if anyone even saw it. It was the end of the day, everyone is minding their own business so they can finish up and get home.

    Go back to work with your head held high!

    1. Drax*

      Yeah I was coming here to say that. I have never once in the history of seeing someone with wet pants assumed they peed. Every single time my brain goes “oh wow that sucks, that spill looks like they peed themselves” and I can honestly say it never even crossed my mind that they might have actually peed.

    2. Maria Lopez*

      And then make sure to buy some overnight Maxipads with the wings so it isn’t a disaster in the future if you leak or can’t make it fast enough to the bathroom. That way you’re only changing pads, not clothes.

  6. Polly*

    I peed all over the back of my pants on the first week of work. I didn’t squat right over the seat *facepalm* It was mid-morning. Thankfully I was able to put a sweater around me until I could get out for a change. I’ve been here 11 years and finally mentioned to a coworker who I am close with – who sat next to me that day – and no one noticed.
    Welcome to the club.

  7. StressedButOkay*

    Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry! To add on to Alison’s points, if someone did notice – which doesn’t seem likely – if they didn’t think it was because you sat in something, they might have very well thought it was a period issue. Menstruating through your clothes often looks more like a wet spot rather than blood, depending on the fabric.

    I’m not sure if that helps but I hope it does. Take some deep breaths, treat yourself to something nice and try to remember that a) probably no one saw it and b) even if they did, they would have most likely thought it was something else.

        1. Amber Rose*

          Definitely not. I don’t wear pants with thin fabrics anymore for partly that reason.

        2. Carrie Fisher's Middle Finger*

          The whole reason I no longer work out on my lunch break: the Booty Sweats.

        3. Dorothy Zbornak*

          leather chairs are the bane of my existence because of sweaty butt! I get up fearing a sweat stain on my butt or a moist seat, which I then have to wipe as discreetly as I can.

          and I have to think veeeery carefully about what I’m wearing in the summer if I’m going to be out in the heat and then going inside somewhere and sitting down for an extended period of time… “what fabric will absorb the most sweat/show sweat the least?”

          1. pugsnbourbon*

            When I was in Phoenix for a conference it was impossible to leave a chair without leaving a slick behind. I made friends by proclaiming it a “Phoenix goodbye.”

          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Ugh, there is nothing worse than leather / pleather /vinyl seats when experiencing a bout of swamp ass!

        4. Anononon*

          On warmer days, I practice the slide forward and stand process when getting out of chairs to avoid the crack sweat line left behind.

      1. StressedButOkay*

        Yes, or sweat! So many other things that it could be, even if it had been noticed.

  8. Adultpeer*

    I too have peed in my pants.
    On planes, at work, in cars.

    Shit happens. Or in this case, pee.
    I remain mortally embarrassed but no one noticed or were too kind to point it out.

    1. CupcakeCounter*

      My MIL shit her pants in her car and pees everywhere. She has had bladder issues since a very traumatic childbirth (my husband) and her second pregnancy made it 10X worse. When she has to go she has to go RIGHT NOW. It has led to many incidents but being her, the whole world knows (she tells everyone then gets mad at us when we tease her about it).

    2. facepalm*

      Shit happens too! About 6 months ago I got stuck in a traffic jam and my stomach was horribly rumbly and. . . .I had to turn around and drive all the way back home. I’m still mortified. But. . . bodies do bodily functions, as they will. Sometimes our bodies betray us. And life goes on.

      1. Ella Vader*

        I did that on my way back from vacation in a rental car. I had to drive the last 50 miles sitting in crap. Thankfully, I was able to get the smell out of the rental before turning it in to Enterprise.

        1. Happy Sharpie*

          A) I’m so glad to see this is a common problem (well not glad people have it, but glad I’m not alone)…it’s like I turned 34 and couldn’t hold my pee anymore. I’ve definitely had to wrap a sweater around my waist.
          B) I totally had the rumbly in my tummy and thought I”d make it….I didn’t so I called my mom who got the bathroom set up for me with some new underwear and wet wipes, and then held the screen door open and saluted me as I walked in the house.

          1. Ella Vader*

            I think what made it worse was violating the rental car, ha! I had just gone by a rest stop, felt fine, and literally lost my shit before the next exit.

            I’m with you, though. Soooooo glad I’m not the only one! I hate for everyone that deals with it, but I’m glad to know it’s more common than I thought!

            1. Anonish*

              My poor husband came very close to pooping himself on a flight one time. We were waiting in the terminal, plenty of opportunity to go, everything was fine. We sat down on the plane, literally the wheels started down the runway for takeoff and he turned to me with a pale face and said, “I might not make it to cruising altitude.” He white-knuckled it until the seatbelt light went off but if there had been turbulence or some other delay he would really have had a problem.

              1. Ella Vader*

                Bless his heart! It’s a terrible feeling to know you’re about to go and have zero options.

            2. Knork*

              H. Jon Benjamin has a whole chapter in his book about getting diarrhea in a rental car!

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Hear, hear!

        A couple years ago my best friend got a text that said “It happened. I finally shi* myself, maaaaaan.”

        I wasn’t even mortified. I just changed myself and tossed my soiled clothes at then nearby rest area.

      3. it's me*

        I’m very glad that the one time I’ve had food poisoning, I just felt weird until I got home (although I knew something was wrong) and THEN it all… came out. I would have been on the news otherwise.

    3. Soveryanon*

      My poor sister has Crohn’s disease. A few months ago, she was driving home with her baby, and suddenly had a really bad attack of diarrhea in the car. On the highway. Nowhere to stop. She ended up having to go in her pants. By the time she got home, she was crying, the baby was screaming because he had thrown up on herself, and she didn’t know whether to clean him up first, or herself. She ended up bringing him into the house in his carrier and leaving him there while she cleaned herself up first, so she could then tend to him in clean pants. It was….definitely not a great day.

  9. Amber Rose*

    Let me double reinforce what Alison has said, as someone who has also had unfortunate accidents in public places, including work.

    Nobody noticed. If they did notice, they assumed you spilled coffee or something. If they, by some unimaginable chance, realized what actually happened, they maybe felt a little bad for you because adult humans do not normally wet themselves unless they are ill or have some other issue. The shame is because this is something that little kids do that you’re supposed to grow out of, but this isn’t an issue of being an adult. This is an issue of your health. There’s a reason there’s a healthy market for adult diapers. Nobody is thinking badly of you.

    And, on behalf of my coworker whose boyfriend has shit himself so many times at work he has to carry multiple pairs of pants, give it a while. You will eventually be able to shrug it off, if not laugh at yourself.

  10. LizB*

    If someone asks about scrubbing down the chair: “I think something got spilled on my chair yesterday — the back of my pants were stained when I got home! I just figured I’d clean the whole seat today to save the rest of my poor pants.”

    In my office, that would get you a “You poor thing!” and maybe, maybe a short conversation about times the other person has tragically ruined their favorite clothes with spills. Literally nobody’s mind will go to “obviously she wet herself.” And frankly, even if I saw one of my coworkers wet themselves and knew for sure that was what had happened, my first thought would be concern for their medical wellbeing and then I would never ever bring it up again.

    1. JanetM*

      Yep. I would cheerfully tell the story about a time when I was temping. I tried to set my full cup of coffee down on shelf, missed, and dropped it straight onto my chest. I darted to the restroom to rinse myself off and blot dry as much as possible, and scared the poor admin assistant, who thought that I had been chased off already.

  11. whoops there is is*

    I suspect way, way more adult women have had this issue than you suspect. It’s a common problem after (and sometimes during) pregnancy, but everyone pretends it doesn’t happen. And in countries without paid maternal leave, many glowing new mothers might be in desperate fear of this…

    You’re not alone; it’s fine.

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      Or leaking from nursing, also very common, and it’s only as humiliating as you let it be if you can get over the immediate sense of “shoot!”

      1. CupcakeCounter*

        I had a nursing leak accident at work. Not the usual one though – I was pumping and forgot my larger containers and wasn’t paying attention and overflowed the smaller bottles I had with me. By the time I noticed (due to a wet belly and lap) a borderline milksplosion happened during the disconnect phase and by the end of the day there was definitely a sour smell around me.

        1. NotSoNewMom*

          One day, in a sleep deprived haze, I forgot to attach a bottle to the flange.

          5 minutes later, I was baffled as to why my leg was so wet.


          1. BadWolf*

            Not really the same, but I have a leaf blower/sucker. When you have it on suck/vacuum, it shreds/mulches the leaves into a removable bag. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve forgotten to attach the bag and covered myself in leaf dust and bits. At least I’m at home.

      2. Anna*

        I once attended a performance by a singer who had a small baby (which I knew because I had seen her husband carry said baby around in the previous days). She had a powerful voice, she sang her heart out, it was amazing, and after a while wet spots started to appear on her chest. She changed during the break and after that new wet spots appeared. I now realise she might have been embarrassed, but at the time she didn’t seem fazed at all, she just sang and it was beautiful. To me the leakage somehow made her performance all the more impressive, the power of her voice pushing the very milk from her breasts while she sang on regardless.

    2. Old Cynic*

      We had an accounting manager who wet herself several times during pregnancy. In the middle of a cube farm, she just screamed “not again! I peed again! sh**!” No one thought anything of it really.

      1. BadWolf*

        I feel like this is all of us at some point. Screaming from the middle of the cube farm, betrayed by our body…

  12. Cassandra*

    Oh, OP. I’m sorry for how this all went down, and how mortified you’re feeling. I have a (minor, and now mostly-resolved) birth defect in my urogenital system, so… I have not-dissimilar stories.

    Concur with Alison and sunny-dee above. Both the unlikeliness of anyone noticing and the etiquette around such situations protect you here. Deep breaths, and do your best to let it go.

    To lighten the mood a bit: I once grabbed my backpack and headed out the door to bike to work without noticing that my new-to-the-house kitten had done a Bad Thing to it. I didn’t notice until, um, I ended up in the building elevator WITH THE UNIVERSITY CHANCELLOR.

    Oops. (But even in that situation, etiquette protected me. Along with the chancellor having no earthly idea who I am.)

    1. Carpe Librarium*

      Heh, a bit off topic but I almost took one of my pet rats to work with me, once. He had snuggled into the canvas tote I used to carry my book, scarf and umbrella.
      I was just closing the front door when I decided to double-check why the bag felt a little lopsided and saw a sleepy little rattie cozied into my scarf.
      If I hadn’t checked I’d likely not have realised the presence of my stow-away until I was already on the bus, or in the office if the bus was full and I’d no opportunity to get my book out.
      I did amuse myself for the rest of the day by imagining bringing him to work and setting him up in my file drawer with a bunch of paper towels and half of my sandwich.

  13. Pacey*

    Myself and a few others witnessed a coworker run down the hall to the bathroom leaking a trail of diarrhea the entire way. One person jumped in to clean up mode and several others checked in on the woman to see if she needed anything. No one judged her. We all felt bad for her and tried to minimize her embarrassment. No one discussed it with each other. I believe everyone figured she was sick and it happens and felt badly for her that it happened so visibly.

    1. HumanPerson*

      This exact same thing happened at my workplace, with the exact same reaction from coworkers. It was never discussed, and as far as I know, has had no impact on anyone’s perception of her.

      OP, bathroom emergencies could happen to all of us at some point, and on the very VERY small chance someone saw you, any decent person will pretend to have not seen you.

      1. Yah, that happened...*

        I’ve sharted myself at work. Awkward walk to the restroom, awful long clean up time, and then commando the rest of the day as underwear went to the bottom of the trash. I can laugh about it now.

    2. SignalLost*

      Yep, I had a student’s ostomy bag let go once. The official story was that someone brought their dog in and it was not healthy. (Only because it happened in a very public place when no other students were around and janitorial had to come clean up. But we couldn’t close the lab without making a bigger deal of it than it was.)

  14. NataliaBruce*

    I’ve had this happen too. It’s a thing that can happen to adult women, and most of us know that. Stress incontinence can happen when you’ve recently had children, had a bad cough for a while, have a UTI or bad allergies, and for a number of other health reasons. If we talked about it more, you probably wouldn’t feel so mortified today, OP. I promise you, it’s okay. If anyone did notice (which seems unlikely) they’re going to assume it’s an isolated medical issue, and be polite enough not to inquire.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Yep. I had a UTI recently and combined with an already tiny bladder, I was silently praying nobody would call me for an interview until it cleared up. I’m also dreading getting any job with lots of long morning meetings, after the coffee’s kicked in!

    2. londonedit*

      I always find that when I have my period, the time between ‘Hmm, I might need a wee’ and ‘OMG must get to the loo RIGHT NOW’ is far, far shorter than usual. I know you’re not meant to hold it in, but usually if I’m in the middle of something I can ignore the ‘need a wee’ thoughts for a little while – not when I’ve got my period, though! And of course I always forget that this is a thing that happens, so when my period first starts there will be occasions where I have to run to the loo before I actually wet myself.

  15. Four lights*

    Aww! I’m sure everything will be find. There are definitely some hilarious I pooped/peed my pants stories on the internet- maybe reading some will make you feel better. Because it’s not just you.

  16. Engineer Girl*

    Most people are too focused on themselves to notice. If they do notice then most people are kind. They remember the time when they (full in the blank) and have sympathy.
    Success in life means we pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off when something embarrassing happens.
    And they people that don’t let you get on with your life? Those people have now outed themselves as jerks. Most of the others know they are jerks so you’re still OK.

  17. Martha*

    I’m so sorry this happened to you. I can assure you that I would never have noticed. I would have assumed you spilled something. And even in the unlikely event that I realized what had happened, I would not think any less of you. It is the rare adult who hasn’t had some kind of leak-related embarrassment at some point. You don’t realize how common it is because like the rest of us, you don’t notice it happening. :)

  18. W*

    If I saw someone with a wet spot on their front I would automatically assume they spilled their drink on their pants. I really think you’re in the clear on this since you left right away.

  19. A Simple Narwhal*

    Oh nooooooo.

    I’m so sorry this happened! But I 100% agree with everyone, anyone who may have noticed (and it doesn’t sound like anyone did) will probably think something along the lines of “oh what an unfortunate place to spill/sit in something”.

  20. ChimericalOne*

    The likeliest result: No one noticed.

    The second likeliest result: Someone did notice, but they have deep sympathy for you, having experienced something similarly embarrassing/traumatic as an adult (or because someone they love has been in that situation).

    The third & fourth likeliest results: Someone noticed something odd, but it doesn’t occur to them that you were involved or they wonder if you were involved but decide to give you the benefit of the doubt & simply file it away as, “Huh, strange.”

    Lastly, it’s possible that someone not only put all the pieces together but is cruel and will try to gossip about you, but in any decent workplace, that person will be shunned / shot down.

    Think about what you’d do or say if something like this happened to a coworker or friend of yours, and resolve to say the same things to yourself. “I’m sorry this happened! Don’t be embarrassed. Nobody will lose respect for you just because you had an uncomfortable health situation at work.”

  21. K.S.*

    This sounds crazy, but it might help psychologically TO ACTUALLY SPILL (a tiny bit of) COFFEE ON YOUR CHAIR and then clean it up. Then you don’t feel like you’re lying. Also would help if you’re worried about a lingering odor, since coffee is a strong smell and would cover anything up. (To be clear, I do not typically advocate damaging company property. I’ve just had similar embarrassing situations happen and for some reason, it helps with the mental space for the bad accident you claim happened, to actually happen. Even if no one even notices you cleaning the coffee.)

    1. AES*

      In re: odor, it might make sense to hit up a pet store and get a bottle of Nature’s Miracle, which neutralizes urine-smell enzymes, just for your own well-being. I second what everyone else is saying re: no one noticing, but if it was me I feel like I would be haunted by the smell forever, even if there were no actual perceptible odor. If you don’t want folks to see the bottle, you can just decant some into an unlabeled spray bottle.

      1. Embarrassed OP*

        This is actually what I ended up doing! One of my coworkers likes to bring his new puppy to the office for little visits, and sometimes the poor thing gets excited and has an accident. We already had some Nature’s Miracle in the supply closet just for this reason, so I just borrowed it. :)

    2. Sloan Kittering*

      I had the same thought. I might bring in something and “spill” it. But I admit that may be overkill.

    3. nnn*

      That’s what I came to post!

      Depending on the nature of the original mess, spilling some water might be a better idea (to dilute the mess/smell), although if there’s a lingering stain/smell then spilling some coffee would cover it up.

      If there is a lingering stain on your chair and anyone notices it, you could say you spilled some coffee and weren’t able to completely get the stain out. (Or, if you’re a stickler for honesty, you could simply say “Do you know how to get set-in coffee stains out of upholstery?”)

    4. TotallyNormal*

      This!! Yes!
      I had a similar unfortunate bladder incident several years ago. It was NOT the end of the day, so I covered by literally dumping my drink on myself so I could jump up and go “Oh my goodness! I’m such a klutz!” And cleaning up my “drink spill” and taking some time in the bathroom with the hand dryer to get through the rest of the day!

  22. Quiet Mornings*

    Not only have I never thought, “Oh goodness that person peed their pants,” when I see someone with an unfortunate wet stain on their clothes that really, really looked like they peed their pants, I always think: “Oh dear, how unfortunate that that person spilled something down their front in exactly such a way as to make it look like they peed their pants! That must be mortifying, I will ignore it completely and let them take care of their own business.” And this has happened only once my entire life. So even if it looked *exactly like* peeing your pants in some strangely distinctive way, you’d still be okay! And that’s a worst-of-the-worst-case scenario which as Allison pointed out, shouldn’t be the case here.

    1. Drax*

      I have spilled on myself like that multiple times in my adult life and not once did someone ever say something beyond once laughing that my coffee must be out to get me when it happened twice in one week. It didn’t even occur to them that I could have actually just wet myself.

      I am not a large person, and I have little hands which often means most glasses (think 20 oz pint glasses) and such are too large for my hands and I drop them. And as I’m often sitting, directly into my lap.

    2. Sylvan*

      Me too. An old job had a bathroom sink that sometimes splashed people at hip or thigh level. People spill things. People accidentally sit on a wet bench. Stuff happens. If OP’s coworkers saw, they probably assumed it was something other than what it was.

  23. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    As an adult, I never even noticed if they had wet pants. I don’t make a habit of looking at your crotch/butt, my eyes are either on your feet or making eye contact/looking at your mouth if you’re talking! Seriously. It’s not normal for them to even notice. It’s obvious to you because they’re your pants and you’re in public, we’re conditioned to feel shame about our bodily functions so that people don’t just drop their trousers and squat right there in the office ;)

    I’m so sorry you went through this but please don’t quit, again, as others are confirming, it’s not something most people would notice.

  24. Dramatic Squirrel*

    Nobody else is going to worry about it, if they even noticed. A former boss of mine pee’d herself at work and I never thought any less of her for it. I walked around my office for half a day with period blood very obviously staining my jeans. I gave my colleagues hell for not warning me but in the 5 years since not one person has ever mentioned it. Best thing is to just brazen it out… Never happened!

  25. Harriet*

    Oh OP, I’m so sorry this happened to you and it’s a real perfect storm of bad circumstances, but please believe Alison and the commentators – no one would have noticed, and even if they did they wouldn’t have jumped to pee as the explanation.

    For what it’s worth, I once crapped my pants at work (I was diagnosed celiac not long after). I don’t think anyone noticed (ran home ASAP), and several years on I can laugh about it and don’t have the burning mortification I felt immediately after. I know it feels awful now, but you’ll get through this.

    1. President of the Lutheran Sisterhood Gun Club*

      I also crapped myself at work shortly before I found out I had celiac! We’re internet comment twins!

      And I’ve peed my self and bled on myself more times than I can even count.

  26. AH*

    Oh no, I feel so bad for you LW, but really as others are pointing out it’s more common than you think. And even if someone did notice, you have a medical reason for it! It’s not a cause for shame. I saw a pregnant woman wet her pants once, I didn’t think any less of her for it.

  27. Pee stories*

    My boss had a guest chair pulled to the side and covered until a professional cleanup crew dealt with it. I asked what happened to the chair. He said that “someone had an accident on it.” That’s all he said. He’s a mega gossip about other stuff but he steadfastly protected the privacy of whoever had soiled that chair. I also did not ask any follow up questions.

    I once was wearing a jersey skirt, above the knee cut, on a plane. I went to the bathroom and I totally failed at pulling it up correctly and the back of it was in the toilet while I peed. I peed all over my skirt and I had nothing else with me to wear on the plane. I wore that pee skirt all the way to my destination. I now always pack a change of clothes.

    1. Introverted Manager*

      I’ve done that on an airplane too. Trying to hover-squat (because, ew, plane toilet) and discovered that angle is important, lest the arc of fluid goes beyond the seat and into underwear and jeans waiting just in front. I was almost done with a cross country flight to visit my long distance boyfriend, so the gross time was short, but that was not quite the greeting I had in mind.

  28. Mimi Me*

    A co-worker who sits behind me shat herself once. She had a coughing fit which apparently caused the issue. There was a brief poop smell (the rest of us assumed it was a noxious fart). She got up, said she’d be back shortly, and left the office. The smell left with her and we realized what happened. It was confirmed 20 minutes later when she came back in, with hair wet from the shower and a new outfit on. She later verbally confirmed that this is what happened when we asked if she was all right. That was 5 years ago and honestly we don’t think about her as the person who pooped herself at work. She’s the woman who works on teapot shipments and she’s good at her job.
    You CAN move on from this.

    1. Amber Rose*

      Coughing fits are the bane of my existence. I try to go to a bathroom to cough for that reason.

  29. K8 M*

    I echo everyone who says no one noticed. Incontinence is something that no one talks about but a lot of women (maybe men too, IDK, I’m a woman and no one talks about it ;) ) suffer from. I wear Icon underwear every day because I leak multiple times a day. Every sneeze, cough, jump, whatever- it happens. They keep me dry and odor free.

  30. Anna Canuck*

    Are you working with a pelvic floor physiotherapist? There’s a whole specialty dedicated to the help you need to avoid this in the future. You have my condolences on your body letting you down – that sucks. It really is unlikely anyone noticed, and if someone did they’re not going to mention it. Ignore and move on – but get some help to prevent future incidents.

    1. Temi*

      Pelvic Floor Therapy changed my life…Amazing that they have this specialty, its advertised in physio clinics everywhere (in North America at least).
      Women’s reproductive health is not talked about enough. I hope OP is getting good treatment. I agree with Alison 100%. It doesn’t seem like anyone saw, much less noticed what happened.

  31. Utoh!*

    Yup, it happens to the best of us! Aunt Flo came early and it was not pretty…I just told my manager I had to leave due to a female emergency (she’s a woman so she understood!). It only got on my clothing though, not the chair, but hey, if it did, so what! We are human, our bodies do things we don’t want them to at times and eventually we can laugh about it….!

    1. starsaphire*

      My manager once too, same, same.

      My email said, “I’ve had a wardrobe emergency of the most embarrassing kind; can I go home and change?”

      Her reply said, “I always keep pads and tampons in my desk; help yourself whenever. Feel free to go home and hope you feel better! See you tomorrow.”

  32. Rose*

    I had a job once where someone was having bowel issues. They literally left poop on the lobby floor more then once. They were able to show their face after that even though we all knew who it was. (There is no way not to notice something like that.) Go with no one noticed (seriously most people are to wrapped up in themselves) and maybe wear pads for awhile for your own piece of mind in case it happens again. (And I have been there with the usual female period horror story where a male coworker actually mentioned it quite kindly. Still faced him the next day.)

  33. Hey Karma, Over here.*

    100% if I were talking to and you suddenly had the deer in the headlights look, I’d ask if you were OK. Then, when you said, yes, I’d go back to my desk and think, “Aw man, hate it when that happens. I wonder if she…oohh look, I have email.”
    Because lower body malfunctions hit everyone. And people are pretty self centered.

  34. Oh So Anon*

    LW, something similar happened to me at work not too long ago.

    We have single stall bathrooms and as I sat down to use the toilet I noticed that I forgot to lock the door. I made it to the door but on the way back to the toilet I peed. I cleaned myself up as best I could and cleaned the floor.

    Mine was not at the end of the day, but nobody said anything to me (I was able to go home and change).

  35. Anna Canuck*

    Pelvic floor physiotherapy can help. Find someone, or get your doctor to refer you. It’s common, but it’s not normal – you can get your body back on your team.

      1. Anna Canuck*

        Good luck! It sounds like you’ve been through a lot – I hope you get the help you need to avoid this in the future. <3

      2. Kuododi*

        Pelvic floor PT is a positive resource for incontinence and a whole host of related conditions. I actually didn’t know that it was an option until a couple of months ago when I was discussing some chronic concerns with my GYN and she made the suggestion. My particular PT is absolutely wonderful and I am very pleased with my progress so far. I will say however, for me the treatment process has been one of the strangest experiences I’ve had in my life to date!!! (Don’t let my issues wierd you out of investigating the option). I would recommend a phone conversation with the PT so she can explain what will happen and answer any questions you may have. Best wishes….as all the other folks have said…it’s truly doubtful anyone noticed what happened to you, or regards you negatively.

    1. Traveling Teacher*

      Yes! Pelvic PT is truly a wonderful thing! It is targeted to your specific problems–the old advice of “just do kegels” doesn’t fit what many women need, for example, whereas the physiotherapist will be able to give you guided exercises that will help you specifically.

  36. OG Karyn*

    Dear OP:

    There is, somewhere in Pennsylvania, in a Red Roof Inn parking lot, a pair of flannel pajama pants into which I went number one AND number two while on a car ride. I couldn’t bear to walk into the hotel wearing them, so I buried them in the snow in the parking lot, and walked into the hotel with a blanket wrapped around me. The person checking us in? Acted like I was wearing a business suit. No reaction at all.

    I tell you this because I want you to know that a) adults have accidents too, and there’s nothing wrong with that, and b) people are entirely likely to pretend these things didn’t happen even if they know they did. And in your case, it is entirely likely and probably almost certain that nobody has any idea what actually happened.

    By the way, if you’re feeling like the chair is smelling like urine (and sometimes it doesn’t but your brain makes you think it does), Rocco and Roxie makes a great enzymatic cleaner that takes the smell out of cat pee, so I’m SURE it would work on human pee too. But that’s only if it would make you feel more secure to *know* you’ve gotten any slight odor out.

    I promise, you will recover from this, because there is very little to recover from! :)

    1. Embarrassed OP*

      Oh no, I’m sorry that you experienced that, but it’s also great that the employee didn’t say anything. I’m sure they deal with all sorts of customers, and the blanket didn’t even register!

      We actually have Nature’s Miracle (dog urine cleaner) in our office for furry visitors, so I just “borrowed” some for cleaning up. :)

      1. Amber Rose*

        I hope all these are making you feel better as well

        Human bodies are so embarrassing, but you can’t leave them behind. Better to laugh.

      2. OG Karyn*

        Exactly! People see all sorts of stuff while on the job. You cleaning a chair is 100% not going to be on anyone’s list of Weird Things They’ve Seen In Offices. :)

  37. Billie Yum Yum 2x2*

    Oh honey, been there, done that, bought the new pants. More than once. I know it’s embarrassing, but it does happen to most people at some point or another. (I seem to run right at about once every 18 to 24 months, with varying degrees of humiliation.) You’re in good company. My friends and I have started calling one another whenever it happens. We’ve decided that the best friends you can have are the ones you call when you piss yourself and they’ll laugh with you.

  38. Hi!*

    If you are reading this, I am guessing you need to feel less embarrassed so here we are: on my first day in a new office I was walking to my car with my boss at the end of the day and felt the immediate urge to, ummmm, #2 (pretty sure I ate something bad that day). I thought I could quietly pass gas as we were walking down a busy street and I proceeded to poop my pants. Luckily I just kept on walking one more block to my car without skipping a beat.

    Sorry that happened to you, believe me when I say I know how embarrassing it is, but nobody probably noticed and it is best to play it off.

    And just remember, at least you didn’t poop yourself in front of your boss.

    1. Auntie Social*

      I’m the one who had to tell her boss to go back to the bathroom because he “must have stepped in something”. He didn’t, of course, he hadn’t wiped well enough I guess, but he stunk as he walked. And somehow he smelled—-nothing. Of course, his male partner was in depositions that day so it was just up to me. He came out of the bathroom better and we didn’t mention it again. I’ve peed myself a little at work (made it to the bathroom but still) and I’d rather pee myself than tell someone they smell like turds.

  39. MuseumChick*

    Massive jedi hugs. I am so sorry you had to go through that! I promise you, are are not the first or last person this has/will happen to. I was a bit worried about someone even worse happening to me today (TMI story below. You have been warned!)

    I think Alison is 100% spot on. It’s highly unlikely anybody noticed. *More jedi hugs*
    I was having major stomach issues all weekend. Usually this manifest is nothing going “out” so, I’m sitting in my apartment filling awful when a fart comes along…only it wasn’t a fart. One ruined pair of underwear, a lot of pepto, and 12 hours of quality time with my toilet later I was feeling a bit better. But I have been worried all day something might happen while I’m at work. I even brought an extra pair of underwear just in case.

  40. Chocoholic*

    Oh, I am so sorry that happened! I had an unfortunate bleeding event at work some time ago and was able to get out quickly, go to Target and buy a new pair of pants and return to work before anyone noticed I was gone. I am sure nobody noticed, and even if they did, they probably do not think you peed your pants. So sorry that happened and am glad you are seeing a doctor. Take care.

  41. The Other Katie*

    I have huge sympathies for this because I had a serious and persistent problem with postnatal incontinence. Always make heavy-duty panty liners/pads that absorb urine (and most importantly the smell), which I use every day. Honestly, the peace of mind that if I can’t quite hold it is well worth the cost, and it’s just like wearing any other pad. I also doubt that anyone noticed, but it’s a solution for your own mental security, if nothing else.

    1. The Other Katie*

      “If I can’t quite hold it”… I got it covered anyway, is what’s worth the cost. Hooray full sentences!

  42. Paper Jam*

    Even if someone did notice – even if you were giving a presentation during a meeting where you couldn’t reasonably pretend that people didn’t notice – most people would simply be concerned for you or sympathetic. I think everyone has had a moment of bodily functions betraying them in public, and unless someone is a real jerk, adults aren’t going to say anything beyond asking if you are okay. But based on what you’ve described, I doubt anyone noticed one bit.

    If it makes you feel better, I think Fergie peed herself once onstage during a concert and was pretty much just like “yup, that happened”. And while it was a very minor news story for like a day, people move on because we’re all human.

    1. Anon 9*

      You’re right re: Fergie,! I remember that happening and also remember how matter of fact she was about the whole thing and how it wasn’t really an issue at all after a day. Like you said, we’re all humans :)

    2. MistOrMister*

      I am now picturing being in a meeting where the presenter suddenly pees or poops themself and I have a hard time imagining any reaction other than concern and sympathy. And it’s the kind od thing you don’t even consider bringing up to discuss with coworkers afterwards.

      I feel for OP. I have been dealing with stomach issues that could result in a poop or vomit emergency randomly and without warning, and while I have always made it to the restroom thus far, there are times when it’s been a very close call. Having to do the monster sphincter clench along with the power waddle to try to get to the restroom in time never becomes less stressful. Each time you wonder, is THIS the time I don’t make it and drop a turd in the hallyway?? And while I don’t look forward to that ever happening, it is comforting to know that so many people have these issues and/or are understanding of them.

  43. Shay*

    You say yourself that you don’t think anyone noticed and as others have said, if anyone did he/she will assume spill and not pee. BUT, if any reasonable and kind person actually realized that you peed your pants, his/her reaction is going to be sympathy and more sympathy. Please try to let it go –

  44. Krakatoa*

    When I was in school, I was on a rotation (more or less just an internship in my medical related field) and split my pants (from bow to sternum, so to speak), right in view of my mentor while working with a client. I was really embarrassed too, I rushed out, changed and came back. No one ever mentioned anything, and the rotation ended very well with everyone liking my work.

    Embarrassing stuff happens. Good people know embarrassing stuff happens. And even if you’re in full view of everyone like I was, non-terrible people aren’t going likely to make any mention of it to you. I don’t think this is anything worth quitting a job over, you should just go in like nothing happened, because even if anyone did notice, they’re not likely to say anything.

  45. UndercoverLibrarian*

    Oh goodness, that sounds uncomfortable. At the risk of being weird, I wish I could give OP a friendly hug. OP, from your account, it genuinely sounds like no one noticed, and you can always pass off cleaning your desk chair as a spilled drink, as you mentioned. (Heck, if I saw a coworker doing that, I’d offer to help!) And for whatever it’s worth, even if it’s worst case scenario and someone does know what happened, I think people are, as a rule, kind and empathetic. We all understand that sometimes, our bodies do things we can’t control, and we have the good sense to either not mention it, or discretely offer to help in the moment. I know it’s easier said than done, but I hope you won’t dwell on it too much. (And be gentle with yourself; definitely indulge in some self-care if you need to. Cereal for dinner and cartoons are my go-to when things go pear-shaped.)

  46. Sloan Kittering*

    I have actually been in a situation where a sweet older lady came into our office with her family, and after she left it was obvious that something similar had happened to the chair. So worst case scenario and someone did realize, let me assure you that we are all just sorry that she had probably been feeling very self conscious and sympathetic that sometimes these things happen in our human bodies. Nobody judged her for the fact that it had happened and nobody ever brought it up to either each other or her again. We cleaned it up and erased it from our minds immediately.

    1. Hills to Die on*

      Yes. An older gentleman needed to use our office restroom and had an awful accident. Nothing but sympathy – no judgment.

    2. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

      When I worked retail a tween or young tween girl who was shopping with her folks ended up peeing her pants in the dressing room. She was so embarrassed she started crying and we all just felt awful for her. We went out of our way to be sympathetic and sweet to her.

  47. GGirl*

    You can buy pee-proof underwear. They are not bulky, there is no odor and they look and feel like regular underwear. Check online retailers.

      1. Embarrassed OP*

        Oh, I’ve heard of Thinx, but I never thought of getting them for incontinence! I will look into them. Thank you!

          1. None the Wiser*

            Omg, Thinx saved my life in Japan!

            I had to give a presentation, and I’m getting to that age where periods can get somewhat unpredictable. On top of that, I was often the only woman in the meetings. So I stocked up on Thinx before we went over there, and sure enough, I got my period in the middle of the trip, while out a traditional restaurant.

          2. Grey Coder*

            Mentioned above, but +1 for Icon undies! Saves spending on pads you may or may not need — they’re just underwear.

  48. MayLou*

    I have wet myself in public twice, both times far more dramatically and obviously than that. Both were in conjunction with passing out due to an undiagnosed medical issue. First one: while in a law lecture with 200 other people, sitting in the back/top row. My friend apparently swore loudly as I keeled over onto her, and the lecturer stopped the lecture while I was carried out. I had to let the building maintenance staff know that the upholstered seat would need cleaning. Obviously people did notice but I told someone about it a couple of years later and someone who had been at the lecture overheard and said “That was you?! Were you okay?” No judgement, and no memory of a face to go with the event.

    Second time I was on a plane and fainted as we landed. They brought paramedics on, the poor stranger next to me had to clamber over my wet smelly legs to get off the plane, and I had to wash in the tiny toilet and change into pyjamas which thank goodness I had packed in my carry-on luggage. Again, people’s primary concern was that I was okay. No possibility of hiding what had happened since I was unconscious at the time! (Bonus: my flight had been cancelled due to turbulence, and everyone else had to find their own accommodation at their own expense, but I got put up in a hotel at the airline’s expense and put on the first flight home the next day. I was happy to take advantage of their worry that they’d made me ill somehow!)

  49. CoffeeNut*

    I am a supervisor with an employee who has actually done this probably 3 times in the year I’ve been here. She has health issues that make it hard for her and I know she is embarrassed each time. I have heard her cry over it. Honestly, my thoughts when this happens is to assist her. So far, she has had a family member available to bring her a change. The one time she was having trouble getting a hold of someone, my first thought was where can I go to get her some clean pants.

    Honestly, if they did notice, as pointed out, they probably assume you split something. Even if they know the truth and have the guts to say something, that says more about them than you. Life happens.

  50. SheLooksFamiliar*

    Oh, OP, I’m so sorry – but I agree with Alison and everyone else. I very much doubt anyone gave this a second thought beyond, ‘Oh, she must have spilled something.’ It’s an aberration only you know about, and there’s no need to cower at work.

    Please be good to yourself, and try not to dwell on this. Easier said than done, I know, but give yourself the gift of kindness and understanding.

  51. Anonymous, Obviously*

    As someone dealing with IBS, diarrheal subtype for the past several years, I can tell you confidently that people are way less aware of your plumbing than you are. I’ve had a few extremely close calls. Last year, I had to duck out of an evening reception when I didn’t quite make it to the toilet in time. I actually drove home (~15 minute drive), took a quick shower, got dressed in nearly identical clothes, and went back. No one even noticed I was gone; the people I’d been sitting with thought I’d been mingling on the other side of the room.

    Most likely, no one noticed your accident. If anyone did, they almost certainly assumed you sat in water. Maybe *maybe* if you were stuck in an elevator with them for an extended period they might have picked up on the odor, but even then, probably not; urine is pretty subtle.

    If someone sees you cleaning your chair, their first assumption will be that you spilled water/coffee/soda/etc on it. If they do assume a bodily function, well, they’re probably more likely to assume an unexpected period than incontinence. Which, if we’re being honest, nearly all the men in an office will immediately pretend to have never noticed because they never want to get into a conversation about that; most of the women would also pretend to not notice, and the women are likely to be sympathetic.

    For your own peace of mind, if there’s a way to store a spare pair of pants/skirt at your desk — or, honestly, even just a sweater you can tie around your waist — that might by itself make you feel more confident that if it happens again you’ll be fine. I get why you feel embarrassed, but the reality is that this is looming far larger in your mind than it is in anyone else’s. That would be true even if someone saw the stain spreading on your clothing as it happened. The fact that no one was around and you were able to flee immediately just further enhances that.

  52. Ana Gram*

    I split my pants at work once. It was horrendous. I’m a cop and we were at the range and I was standing up from a kneeling position and riiiiiip! Right down the center seam of the crotch. I hopped back off the line, waddled over to the range master, and explained that I needed to leave because I didn’t feel well (embarrassment counts, right??). And then I prayed I didn’t encounter anything on my way home that required me to stop. Ugh.

    The next week, I made a comment about my wardrobe malfunction to one of the women who was at training that fateful day. Her response? Oh, I didn’t even realize you left.

    OP, no one noticed and no one will think it’s weird to clean your chair. They’ll assume you spilled something. And, trust me, everyone has an embarrassing story!

  53. Typo*

    Another voice saying that in the unlikely event that anyone saw, which I don’t think they did given your description, I agree that they would just think “oops, sucks to spill something in a way that looks like a bathroom accident…”–and then, I think that person’s thoughts would inevitably turn to the last embarrassing spill they had, or the time their dress got caught up in their laptop back and showed their underwear, etc. In other words, they wouldn’t even dwell on it.

    From my own experience, I want to recommend Always Discreet pads for bladder leaks. I have a chronic condition that flares and I wear these daily when it is acting up. They are the thinest I have found, like a regular liner/pad, and they give such peace of mind.

  54. dining room table destroyed*

    Sorry this happened to you.

    Honestly, I think you should try to get a new office chair. Many years ago, I worked in an office where the receptionist had ongoing issues due to a skiing accident. The other people who covered her desk during her lunches and breaks noticed the odor from the chair and there was quite an embarrassing uproar about having to sit on a chair that had someone else’s urine on it. I doubt you’ll be able to clean it well enough unless you bring in a steam cleaner or something.

    1. Lia*

      Not true at all!

      OP – all you need is some nature’s miracle pet odor remover. One good spray of that and you’ll never smell it again. Signed – someone who while sick had an accident in the car. with leather seats.

  55. KR*

    Hi OP if you have some sympathetic female coworkers and need a cover story for why you left and are now cleaning your chair (and are of menstruating age) you could say you got your period all of a sudden. Also you could say something like, “I sat down in the bathroom and didn’t realize the toilet seat was covered in pee until I sat in my office chair! Gross! I cleaned up the seat and rushed home to clean up.” I am so sorry. I was using the bathroom at a bowling alley out with friends just this weekend and I got up to wipe and… Well it all kind of leaked over my pants and legs. I cleaned up best I could and then soaked myself with water from the sink so I could say the faucet sprayed me when I turned it on. Then left shortly after covered in my own piss. It happens. Nothing to be embarrassed about. You are ok. Also if I may suggest vinegar in a little spray bottle covers up the smell of urine in fabrics really well (if your office seat is fabric). Just soak it all in there and let it dry out. Be careful with bleach – you might end up bleaching the seat of your pants.

    1. KR*

      Also no shame if you want to break your chair on purpose if you can’t clean it well enough and then be like, OH NO ITS BROKEN I NEED A NEW CHAIR

  56. Liz*

    Like everyone else has said, while you may have been horrified and mortified, the chances of anyone seeing, and realizing what it was are slim to none. And if someone saw, they most likely thought you spilled something, sat in something, or perhaps had an accident but are too polite to say anything.

    I sharted myself once. Thankfully in my car, after a pedicure, and had to run home and do the crab scuttle inside, and PRAY no one saw me. I had woken up with a bit of an upset stomach, taken care of it, and went off for my pedi appt. I felt a bit gassy but decided the salon was not the place to attempt to sneak one out. got in my car, and thought hmmm. now is a good time. No now was NOT a good time. oops. but like i said, i was able to run home, and thankfully not see anyone as i snuck inside, change, and be on my merry way.

  57. TootsNYC*

    Everybody poops.*

    Seriously, we all have the same plumbing. There are tons of us who have wet the bed at work because we had a dream we were sitting on the toilet.

    There are plenty of us who have had major leaks because we didn’t get up to go right away and thought we’d have more time, or better control.
    Some of us have had major, major diarrhea on the subway, or on a city street.

    Don’t bring it up, and don’t sweat it.

    Even if someone noticed it, we all have the same plumbing and the same vulnerabilities.

    (and if it will make you feel less self-conscious about a possible recurrence at work, there are Depends)

    *Seriously–everybody poops. This is so well-known, they wrote a book about it.

  58. Anon for this*

    I once straight-up shat myself prior to a meeting with a VP at the large corporation I worked at. It was a combo of nerves, coffee, a long commute, and just…poor planning. It wasn’t a full-on pants sh*tting, but I ended up tossing my underwear in the trash as a result and hoping to god I could clean myself up well enough. No one ever knew. I’ve told this story (in similar contexts) a few times before, and nearly everyone has similar stories. We’re humans, with bodies. These things happen, and you’re in good company. :)

  59. bubba g*

    I suffer from chronic kidney stones, and I will sometimes have to have the doctor go in an pull one out (under conscious sedation). Afterward, the usually put a stent in, which stays for a week. Talk about having no bladder control!

    I am a high school teacher, and at the end of the workday, I got up from my chair and it was Niagara Falls. I was mortified, but thankfully no students were in class. I had no idea how I was going to get from my class to my car, and as it was warm weather, I didn’t have a sweater to tie around my waist. I finally held my briefcase near my backside, and walked to my car. I actually think me trying to hide it made it more obvious, but if anyone noticed, they didn’t say anything – who would? I was just concerned about being that weirdo teacher who peed herself at work. Thankfully, the students were too concerned about their own lives to watch me walk awkwardly to my car.

    As Allison stated, most people are too busy with their own work/lives to notice, and we all have some awkward story like that. Go to work and happily enjoy that new job you love!

  60. msk*

    It’s natural to think that everyone notices little things about us, but the fact is, most people are not paying attention. They are in their own heads and unless it is something glaringly obvious, like marker ink all over your face, or a heavy coat in August, they will look right past you. And these days, we tend to be focused on our phones, which in this case ensures that no one noticed.

  61. That Californian*

    I would like to add to the legion of comments that by far the most likely scenario is that nobody noticed, and if somebody did notice they were more than likely sympathetic. I would just like to add that if someone at your work ever mentions this or is in any way unsympathetic or critical, THEY are the ones being weird and inappropriate, not you. You simply experienced one of the more unpleasant consequences of having a human body, and anyone who would try to make you feel ashamed of that is An Awful. Again, I don’t think it’s likely at all to happen, but in your shoes I would be imagining all the awful things people could say to me, so I wanted to lend my support.

  62. Completely Anonymous for This Post*

    I would like to make you feel better: once I had a pantiliner fall out of my underwear while I was walking out of my office to my car. I didn’t notice it at all until I got home and went to the loo. When I went back to work the next day I saw it on the landscaping.

    I still wonder if anyone ever saw it happen.

    1. Kivrin*

      I legit lost my panties in the street once when I was a teenager. I was wearing a skirt, and the elastic was shot. I stepped up onto a curb and they fell around my ankles. I just stepped out of them and kept walking. Maybe not the most mature way to handle it, but I was mortified and was hoping that no one would notice.

      1. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

        The same thing happened to my mom when she was a little girl! And that was in the 1930s, lol!

        She said she was getting off the school bus, and she did the exact same thing- stepped out of them and kept walking. She said it happened in front of all her classmates, and she wanted to die of embarrassment, but she figured it was better to just act like she *herself* hadn’t even noticed, LOL!

  63. Sleepytime Tea*

    I had a… woman’s problem at work once. It was towards the start of my shift and when it was time for my break I awkwardly covered myself with my jacket to head home and change. (Once I got home it was a bigger issue than I realized and I had to call in for the rest of the day because I had to go to the doctor.) No one noticed any staining or that I was awkwardly covered up. Unfortunately because of the nature of that type of thing, my chair was ruined. The person I sat next to was the only one who noticed it. She told my boss, who discretely removed the chair and replaced it before I came back to the office. No one ever said a word.

    I say this because it is highly likely that especially because it’s not anything but a wet stain that even if someone saw it they wouldn’t know what it was on sight, even if someone DID see it, it’s actually highly unlikely that they would make a big deal about it. This all happened to me when I was working in a call center, highly gossipy and dramatic, and still, there are some things that people will respect and not try to embarrass you.

    Go into work tomorrow and clean your chair. If anyone asks, say you spilled some water. They will be none the wiser.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      This reminds me, I completely forgot–one of my coworkers at AncientPreviousJob was pregnant and would always sit in the extra chair in our boss’s cube talking to her. One day near her due date, they were chatting and her water broke. They had to replace the chair.

  64. anon for this*

    I can offer you commiseration. More than a decade ago I gave school tours at, uh, a place where kids would enjoy a field trip, and one morning, while in the middle of welcoming the kids I had a sudden bout of diarrhea in my pants with no warning. I simply whispered to my closests colleague, “I’m unwell. I need to leave immediately,” and hurried off to the washroom trying to move my pelvis as little as possible. I blame mixing Cold-FX with other medications for an extreme laxative effect. I cleaned myself as well as I could with paper towels, water and toilet paper, put layers of paper towel between my body and soiled underwear and between my underwear and pants and then had to take an hour long public transportation trip home (I did not choose a taxi, not just because of the cost, but because honestly, I prefered not to sit with my clothing soiled like this. It wasn’t sufficiently faster for that tradeoff.) I had a repeat bout of diarrhea on the first leg, and was forced to use a coffee shop washroom to clean myself again. The worst part of that was someone banged on the door while I was in there. I said, “Almost done!” and tried to complete the task quickly, as well as making sure to leave nothing awful for the staff or next customer to find. Unfortunately, I was not fast enough and the door was knocked on again while I pleaded that I was nearly done. When I did emerge, a staff member gestered to the customer, “She really needs to go!” I booked it out of there saying only that I really needed it too, but in my mind, I thought, “You would not have wanted the space before I was done cleaning up.” Anyway, I made it home without further accidents, and have never dared to try Cold-FX again.

    My colleagues and my boss were sympathetic and allowed me my privacy. They wished me well as I abruptly left, and responded with good will when I next returned, and never pressed for explanation. I volunteered “stomach issue,” and that was it.

    1. Ella Vader*

      My aunt and I both get this laxative effect from what my aunt calls “the deadly duo” – chocolate and lettuce. She calls herself the Phantom Shitter of St. Augustine because of she ditches her soiled underwear at the store, restaurant, etc. I feel sorry for the people cleaning the bathrooms for sure.

      1. Liz*

        I like her too!

        My mom, who uses a wheelchair, has nerve damage in her lower extremities, which sometimes results in incontinence, or having to poop suddenly, and not having the muscle control to hold it in. She has shat her self many a time on the way home, or we’ve had to suddenly leave somewhere public as she feels it coming on and can’t stop or hold it in.

        Last summer I think, we went to check out (her not me) a new major super duper fancy grocery store. well, we got in, and she had to go. So she goes off to the ladies room, and even though she had her “supplies” i wandered about buying a few things to help in the clean up. tankfully the store was new, had a giant HC stall, and we were somewhere we could procure things to clean her up.

        Afterwards, i stopped by the CS counter and discreetly let them know they might want to have the cleaning crew make a pass through that stall, even though we cleaned up as best we could.

  65. Anon 9*

    I’m so grateful this is such a kind, supportive community! OP, I hope you feel significantly better knowing how very not alone you are in this type of situation.

  66. Judy Johnsen*

    This has happened to me. Especially if I cough or sneeze hard, or lift something. I wear a pee pad made for women, and / or an adult diapers. Always brand makes a nice one that comes in different colors, sizes, is comfortable, does not show under clothes. And they work. My doctor said no more caffeine drinks, as caffeine can be a stimuant, and diet soda is a bladder irritant. I hope this helps.

  67. Pissy Anon*

    Well, this is a timely reminder for me to put some spare gear in my car for this type of emergency. It’s happened to me before, and then I had to drive home 50 minutes in wet pants :-/ But this thread should reassure the OP and the rest of us, we’re far from alone!

    This is also one reason I brought a thin foam cushion into work for my office chair. People assume it’s only for comfort when that’s just a side benefit.

  68. sheworkshardforthemoney*

    Can I suggest panty liners like Depends or a similar brand? I wear them when I know I’m going to have a busy day and may not get to the washroom on time. They are great for your peace of mind and no one knows you are wearing them.

  69. Embarrassed OP*

    Hi everyone!

    I wanted to deeply thank Alison and all you wonderful readers for your stories and comfort. Alison emailed me within 15 minutes of me sending her this email, and it made me feel a million times better. If anyone in my office saw, they certainly haven’t said anything. In fact, I had my 90-day review with my CEO (I’m the office assistant) and he had nothing but fantastic things to say about me. Apparently he’s been bragging about me to the rest of the executive team and I’m getting a lot of new, interesting projects that I can’t wait to start on. So I guess even if someone saw, at least my actual work is going well! :)

    Since we’re a small office, sometimes my coworkers like to bring their dogs in for short visits, and we actually have pet cleaner in our storage closet! I completely forgot about this when I was rushing out the door, of course, but the next morning, I went to work a little bit earlier than normal and used the pet cleaner to clean up my chair. There are no stains and no smells whatsoever, and I’m trying to move forward from this.

    I’m in my late 20s, and honestly, I never knew this was such a common issue for women, even after all of my recent medical issues. None of my older female relatives, and not even my doctor, have mentioned that this was such a common problem. I wish this wasn’t such an embarrassing issue to talk about! Thank you so much for sharing all of your stories today, and I really hope this can help other young professional women feel better if they ever have this issue as well!

    1. animaniactoo*

      So glad to hear you’ve managed to recover and thrive. I was just commenting below on how much I love that there’s an entire thread of people telling their stories here precisely because it IS something that’s somewhat common and yet we really don’t talk about it all – out of embarrassment. Which is kind of silly when you think about it – I think we equate it to being childish to some extent, but our reality is that there are all sorts of circumstances that can just put it beyond our control and maybe we can just be more compassionate and matter-of-fact about that.

      Congrats on your job success!

    2. GRA*

      Thank you, OP, for sending Alison this question. It’s given us all a chance to share our own stories in a supportive community – it seems a lot of us needed that chance!! Thank you!

      1. Environmental Compliance*


        From a variety of things, neither my period nor my bladder have been kind. My favorite (heavy, heavy sarcasm there) time was when I was on my 4th UTI in 3 months and also had managed to have my period for 2 flippin’ weeks at random. So many pairs of black leggings during that time…

    3. BadWolf*

      I’m bummed that your doctor didn’t even give you a brochure (unless this was an unexpected side effect).

      This is one of those times that I think commercials/ads can be pretty handy. They get the word out that this is thing and it’s not just you having this problem. I remember one recently where they advised women that they didn’t have to re-purpose liners for periods, they could use liners designed for incontinence (unsure if the difference is worth it…but it’s good to be reminder there are options).

      1. Embarrassed OP*

        There was a loooooot of stuff going on, and I’m pretty sure incontinence was the last thing on my doctor’s mind. It’s just now that all of my other symptoms have cleared up, this is the only issue left! I’ve just been feeling embarrassed even asking other women about what I’ve been experiencing.

    4. MayLou*

      I went to a conference once and was present at a talk by a… physiotherapist? Urologist? Not sure what their exact title was, but anyway they talked about how they saw an almost endless stream of teenage girls who were mortified by their incontinence and had no idea that other teenage girls had the same issue. It stuck vividly in my mind – why do we not talk about this?! And yet we all know that boys get wet dreams and random erections sometimes. How can something that affects so many girls and women be such a secret?!

    5. OhBehave*

      It feels like your body betrayed you! I’ve had kids, surgery, and get that awful cough which all combine to bless me with bladder leakage. I learned to wear a pad when I got sick. Strangely enough, I haven’t had an accident in months. I had a stroke in Sept. so I think PT has helped my pee issues.
      Hopefully you and your doc will hit on a solution.

    6. Sleepytime Tea*

      So happy to hear that everything worked out! And very happy to hear about your fantastic review. Also happy that all our stories let you know how normal this type of thing is. The human body is a pain sometimes, man. You’re in good company.

    7. Chidi Anna Kendrick*

      This is great news! I just want to add my support to your original letter. I have terrible problems with kidney stones and the weeks after surgery are always iffy for me in terms of making it to the rest room in time. I’ve definitely had leaky days and I’m at a point now where I better understand how to deal with them. I’m also fairly young and wasn’t really expecting that to be a problem at my age. But life happens. But in terms of more general advice, when I am super embarrassed about something I try to think what the worst possible scenario could be and play that out in my head and my response. Any time I do this, the reality of what actually happens never even comes close to my worst case and all turns out well.

  70. Veruca*

    It does my heart so much good to see a whole group of internet strangers coming together to comfort the OP. Thank you, Allison, for creating this community.

    OP, walk in there tomorrow like nothing happened and know that we are all there in solidarity with you!

  71. animaniactoo*

    Given how much we DON’T talk about this stuff and how in-reality-really-common-it-is and how embarrassed we are when it does happen… I would just like to say that I am loving this thread of people saying “Oh yeah, I’ve been there.”

    Especially as someone with a boss who actually DID notice (because she’s always evaluating people’s clothing, it’s a hobby of hers) when I had a menstrual issue a couple of years ago and discreetly inquired and told me to go ahead and go home. I had been waiting for an opportunity to talk to her privately and say I needed to leave, but she got to me before I could get to her. When I thanked her by e-mail later that day, she just said “No problem. I would want someone to do the same for me.”

  72. Wing Leader*

    This has happened to me (minus the medical procedure reasons). I knew I needed to use the bathroom, but was sitting at my desk and figured I’d go later. Well, I got to a point where my body decided it wasn’t going to wait anymore. So…yeah.

    I just wrapped a sweater around my waste to hide the *evidence* and then told the receptionist I was running home to change because my pants had ripped (much less embarrassing than the actual reason).

    As for the chair, definitely stick with the classic coffee/coke/tea spillage story. You can’t go wrong there.

    1. Mr. Shark*

      I know…no commenting on typos. But the use of “waste” here versus “waist” was a particularly apt typo and struck me as funny.
      The ripped pants story is a good one, and yes, much less embarrassing!

  73. AnonAnonAnonAnonForever*

    Let’s all share our pee accident stories to make the LW feel better!

    One time when I was in graduate school, we had this event with a bunch of speakers, etc., and all the profs and students were there. It was a really long event and by the end I needed to pee REALLY bad. Of course, a lot of other people did as well, so there was a big line.

    Fortunately, I knew of an alternate restroom besides the main one–one that was a single occupancy one around the corner from the other ones. I rushed in and started doing my business, and then I heard other people loudly coming down the hall to the bathroom. The door was very rickety and I suddenly panicked that in my rush to finally get to pee, that I’d forgotten to lock it. People started trying to open it and startled me so much that I just automatically jumped up–but I was unable to stop peeing and so I peed all over the back of my pants. My LIGHT COLORED pants. All for nothing, I might add, because I HAD locked it.

    I ran around the bathroom like a crazy person trying to figure out what to do, knowing that there were a lot of very full bladders waiting at the door for me to come out. I managed to cover most of the damage with my sweater but I just had to slip out into the night and hope it was too dark for anyone to see.

    If they did see, they did not comment. I survived and am still friends with all my graduate school friends!

    1. Pee whoops*

      This past summer I brought my mom’s dog to the vet (routine hydration for kidney problems). I had a cup of coffee while waiting. I then brought the dog to mom’s place, and was walking him before dropping him off. I was at the front door, finishing his walk, when the urge hit. I ran in, took the elevator up to her floor, ran in to her condo, dropped the dog’s leash, ran into the bathroom…and didn’t make it. Mom was outside the door “are you okay?” because I rushed in past her and didn’t even say hi. My response “I need to borrow shorts…and underwear…and shoes.” Luckily she and I are the same size.

      Oh – and for context – I am 45.

    2. C*

      Not nearly as dramatic, but I was wearing a long skirt once and when I pulled the hem up to pee I…didn’t pull it up far enough and peed all over the last few inches of the back of the skirt. Fortunately it was knit fabric and, being long, it was easy to rinse out in the sink. I blotted it dry as much as I could and stayed at my desk until it dried.

    3. Liz*

      Mine was as a child, but I still remember it. I was away at GS camp, and while we slept in tents, on cots, we did do an overnight camping trip “away” from the big camp. I had on those terrycloth onesie pjs with the opening at the backside, you were SUPPOSED to be able to kind of pull down and use to pee.

      Well, being we were not at camp, no toilets, so we had to pee outside. Stupid me, who is quite uncoordinated to being wth, pulled my down, squatted, and proceeded to pee all down the back of one leg! UGH. i then had to get BACK in my sleeping back while wet with pee. I think i was about 12 or so.

  74. I pee too.*

    As a 40 year old woman who was diagnosed with an over active bladder last year I refuse to be embarrassed that my body doesn’t behave the way it used to. I totally understand how mortifying it must feel, but it happens to some of us and it’s not like you did it on purpose. You’ve got this! Go in with your head high.

  75. Rw*

    I once wore a cardigan covered in dry pee to work (my friends toddler peed on it but I didn’t notice as it was dry by the time I put it on). Kept getting a whiff of pee smell but took me til AFTER LUNCH to realise the smell was coming from me! No one ever said anything to me about it.

  76. Ella Vader*

    OP, you have my deepest sympathy. While I can honestly say I have never peed in myself at work, I did crap my pants at work . Thankfully, at the time, I was at the office with only the firm administrator. I told her I’d started my period, and it was on my pants and needed to run home and change. I stayed in the hall outside her office, and she never mentioned it.

    I also did it in a rental car on my way back from vacation and had to drive 50 miles in poop pants. Miraculously, I got the smell out before turning it in to the rental company.

    It took a while for me to get over the feeling that my body had betrayed me on some level.

  77. RB*

    These stories are all so consoling. I was having a bad day and it made me feel better reading them.

  78. Crohnie*

    OP, if it makes you feel any better, early in my relationship with my now-husband my Crohn’s symptoms were crazy out of control. It was a gastrointestinal dumpster fire. One day we were at the beach and I had a terrible, awful thing happen involving #2. I was wearing regular shorts and underwear, and the only way I could think to disguise what happened was to take a spontaneous swim. Thank goodness no one else was at the beach that day. The long car ride home in wet, stinky shorts is a horrible memory for me! However…I am not sure he even realized what happened, and if he did, he politely ignored it and married me anyway!
    Hang in there!!

    1. MRK*

      To add to the hilariously awful but I survived tales of #2: I was once walking home with my boyfriend and REALLY had to go. So I’m at the speed walk while also clenching point, since we’re almost back.
      And in my rush I tripped.
      And fell.
      And promptly pooped myself. Like 40 feet from the front door. And had to tell my boyfriend since at that point I needed help. Suffice to say that underwear went in the garbage.
      Long story short he’s still my boyfriend and had gallantly NEVER mentioned this incident again.

      1. Ella Vader*

        My aunt has IBS and has gone in her pants before and just ditched them in the trash of wherever she’s at, at the moment. She said she wonders if there’s a police file on the Phantom Shitter of St. Augustine.

      2. Liz*

        This was my cousin and her now husband. She sometimes has out of the blue, explosive diarrhea and there’s no stopping it. So they’re out to dinner, and parked in a parking garage. she realized, as they are getting to the car, she has to go NOW. no time to go find a bathroom, and she also had on white jeans!

        so she did the only thing she could. go in front of the car, between it and the wall, drop her pants, which she had already shat, and finish. she said she was mortified, but as her now hubby has digestive issues too, he got it. He got a blanket out of the car for her to wrap around her lower half on the drive home, and she told me she as ashamed to admit she left her pants and undies there

    2. Kivrin*

      I love the line “he politely ignored it and married me anyway!” You got a good one, no question.

  79. Charity*

    Don’t worry about it. Once when I had my period I bled thru to my chair, so I was scrubbing it. No one said anything. I think people try not to say anything in these situations. Seriously, it’s OK, don’t quit. Just act casual and it will all be fine. Enjoy your new job!

  80. Professor Yana*

    I’ve had to use the adult incontinence underwear because the time between “I think I gotta go” to “I GOTTA GO” has, as many people have said, become much shorter. And I keep an extra pair in my bag just in case. And a few in my car. :^)
    There are the major brands of pads and pants, and even store brands. My mother loves one particular brand and unfortunately the company is going out of business.

    You are not alone.

  81. Ladylike*

    If I did witness this happening to someone else, this would fall squarely into the category of, “I will never tell another living soul.” Because I just can’t justify gossiping about someone’s else’s very personal misfortune. It’s just mean. It’s likely you have reasonable coworkers who feel the same way.

    I agree with Alison that it’s unlikely anyone knows. If you need to clean your chair, and anyone notices that, you could joke about being a germaphobe or say it smells musty or say it smells like someone else spilled coffee on it or any number of things – I always clean office equipment that I “inherited” from a previous user. If I were you, I’d get a big bottle of Febreeze and soak that thing before you leave at the end of your next workday. That way, if there’s any teeny tiny chance someone noticed it being wet the day before, they might conclude that you Febreezed it then, too.

  82. Noah*

    Also: if I did know a coworker wet their pants, I would feel only sympathy and would never speak of it to them or anyone else. I would also forget pretty quickly because I don’t really care. I assume that’s true for most people.

  83. Contracts Killer*

    My advice is specific to cleaning the chair. We have an incontinent pet and had a fabric expert tell us to make sure with urine/blood/etc to use a cleaner that says it is enzymatic (Spot Chomp is the one he recommended). Spray on, cover with a warm, not hot, cloth and let sit for a few minutes. This multiplies the enzymes and truly removes all stains and prevents lingering odors.

  84. Armadillo Distraction*

    Ok, not a PEE accident story, but once at work, while teaching a group of high school students, I bent over to grab something off the floor and the entire seat of my pants, from butt crack to crotch, split open. (They were very thin, old khakis that should have been retired a long time ago.) I was immediately at critical mortification level, but somehow managed to teach the entire remaining 40 minutes, WHILE carrying and showing off an armadillo, without ever turning my side or back towards the seated students. Then immediately after class, changed into a spare pair of leggings I had at work for the next two classes, which was sort of verboten, but no one commented on it.

      1. Armadillo Distraction*

        Ah, yes, I do highly recommend a small armadillo as a work accessory. Works wonders for distracting from little problems.

        Also I worked at a zoo and the armadillo was taken VERY good care of. Also she sometimes peed on herself and we loved her very much.

    1. Mr. Shark*

      Initially I thought you were using armadillo as a code-word for something else, but nope–a real armadillo!! :)

  85. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

    Hey, OP, glad it worked out. It’s all good. I have lost count of the number of times I have bled through my clothes during my insanely heavy periods. Don’t all women have at least one of those Highly Embarrassing Bodily Fluid Incidents?

  86. Yvonne*

    Something similar happened to a coworker of mine, only way way more obvious. I’ll spare the details on the off chance she reads this. The only reason I knew was that I happened by at just the wrong moment and there was just no missing it. Maintenance was coming. I see this woman and speak to her literally every day. I just pretended nothing unusual happened and so did she and until something like this pops up I don’t even think of it anymore. There is no awkwardness (though she might have felt weird for a while and I was worried for awhile she’d think I was judging or something). Probably no one noticed your situation. If they did, probably no one will mention it. Go on like nothing happened and I promise it’ll be okay.

  87. Elizabeth West*

    Awww! I’m sure nobody saw it.

    I was at a new-ish job once and in the midst of being scolded for something by a less-than-pleasant manager (not my direct manager) , I realized I had to go to the bathroom really badly. I was trying to hurry so I didn’t piss her off even more, so I peed super fast, turned on the water full blast, stuck my hands under the faucet, and *SPLLSSSSH* The forceful stream bounced off my hands and right onto the front of my trousers. Which, of course, meant more time in the bathroom mopping up. I don’t think anyone believed me that it was the faucet.

    This kind of stuff happens to everyone. Literally everyone.

  88. Laura H.*

    Happens to me more than I care to admit.

    I was on the planning team/ helped run it for a Thurs afternoon- Sun morning retreat, over night. My ratio of undies and bottoms to shirts was at least 2:1 if not 3:1.

    My bladder was quicker than I was more often than not that weekend and I returned home with ONE set of undies and bottoms out of the like 6-7 I’d packed. That scenario is exactly WHY I “overpack” on those.

  89. Annastasia von Beaverhausen*

    I’m sure no one even noticed, OP. People have their heads so far up their own butts, you could be on fire and they’d be unlikely to look up.

    And haven’t all us ladies had a ‘Aaaa-choo! Aaaaand, now I’ve peed my pants.’ moment? No? Just me?

    1. Ano for this one*

      I did with the other bathroom activity, I was lucky I was at home and it was just a little bit.

  90. Anonymous for this one!*

    OP, I so feel your pain. I ate a piece of bad salmon at lunch one day, and did not make it to the bathroom in time after I realized what was happening. I literally crapped my pants as I walked down the hallway, in front of several desks. Luckily, I was able to keep walking until I got the bathroom, without letting on what had happened. I cleaned myself up, and promptly went home. Luckily it was 4pm. I will never forget that as long as I live. I was so mortified. Back to your situation – I am with Alison on this. I really doubt anyone noticed, and washing your chair down could easily be explained away. I’m sorry that happened to you!!

  91. Jennifer*

    No one noticed. Don’t worry. I understand why you feel the way you do but please try not to stress.

  92. Luna*

    I doubt anyone noticed. And if they did, they probably don’t care – especially nowhere near as much as LW may be worrying about. And this can happen to anyone. Shrug it off and if your boss mentions anything about this particular instance, maybe you can just admit that… well, it was an accident.

  93. Jennifer*

    I have definitely had a period accident at work and had to make a mortified walk to the bathroom. That was way worse than this. People saw.

  94. Rectilinear Propagation*

    Even beyond just incontinence, pants mishaps in general are common: spilling something so it looks like you might have peed, a stain that looks like poop, rips in pants in unfortunate places, pants coming undone, etc.

    The thing is, movies and TV make it out to be a thing where people will be merciless about it but we aren’t in kindergarten anymore. Most of us have had a stomach bug or an unfortunately timed sneeze; we’ve all been there.

    Besides, imagine this in reverse: a co-worker or a manger wants to complain about someone who ‘might’ have had an accident at the office. Can you imagine the response on that one? Alison would have to keep reminding people not to outright insult the OP!

  95. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

    I am very clumsy. I spill things. A lot. If I saw a co-worker with wet clothes I would assume they too had managed to drop their entire newly-filled glass of water over themselves for the second time this week.

  96. Librarianne*

    I sweat a lot – A LOT – when I’m nervous. During a job interview for my first professional position, I realized halfway through the day that I had completely sweat through the back of my skirt. I immediately rushed to the bathroom to blot the area with paper towels and stand in front of the hand dryer, and I walked everywhere with a folder/notebook held behind my butt for the rest of the day.

    I got the job.

    I guarantee you that almost no one noticed, and the one or two people who did assumed you spilled water/coffee/etc. If you don’t call attention to your embarrassment, no one will remember seeing anything unusual in a few hours, anyway!

  97. MuseumChick*

    I think we have stumbled into a great “Ask the Readers” subject: “Ask the Readers: Tell us about a time you soiled yourself at you job.”

  98. stitchinthyme*

    While I totally get being mortified by something like this (I would be, too!), if I saw this happen to a coworker, my first thought would be something like, “Must be a medical issue. That sucks.” I’d feel bad for the person but not think any less of them for it. We all have bodily functions, and sometimes our control of them is tenuous for whatever reason. It happens. (There’s a reason I carry an extra pair of underwear in my work bag at all times.)

    But, as Alison and everyone else said, most likely no one even saw.

  99. CleverGirl*

    I keep an extra pair of panties in a drawer at work for just this reason.

    If this happened to me I would immediately dump a can of coke on myself and then declare to my coworkers that I’m a genius and I spilled my drink all over and “it looks like I peed my pants!” and then go fix it.

  100. StaceyIzMe*

    You know, bodies just do their thing, and sometimes it’s inconvenient. It can be a heavy period day bleed through, vomiting, diarrhea, gas, hiccups, tears or any of a host of things that go wrong. It’s only a “thing” if you make it a thing. Even if someone saw, even if you did this in a conference room with the C suite, even if it happened twice or more. Look, don’t waste another second in this life cringing about this. Everyone who has been alive a few years has a few stories about when their body decided it needed to pee, vomit, cry, burp, belch, bleed or poop at an inconvenient or too conspicuous moment. Nobody is going to think “oh, she caused a problem because she should have perfectly managed her bodily functions”. If they noticed, they’ll probably think of a time or two when their body did something and spare you a moment of empathy, sympathy or goodwill and move on. You should move on too, and I hope you’ll give yourself permission to do just that.

    1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      “Even if it happened twice or more.”

      I’m going to respectfully disagree here. After a certain number of recurrences, most places will expect you to start making adjustments going forward, like pursuing a medical treatment plan or wearing full protective undergarments or changing up your feminine protection regimen.

      But otherwise, you are 100% right.

      1. StaceyIzMe*

        I’m going to respectfully disagree with your disagreement. The fact that employees are adults kind of implies that they take all reasonable measures and precautions to manage known difficulties. You only have to read through the whole of the comment flow to find instances where it’s happened several times due to a variety of circumstances such as a medical condition, wildly variable arrival of that time of the month or the sudden onset of a coughing or laughing fit that brings “leakage”. Ditto for nursing leakage. My point is that these things aren’t always managed so perfectly as to make them unnoticeable. Implying that there are others “keeping count” of the number of instances one is “allowed” to have a bodily malfunction is unnecessarily shaming. Seriously, nobody wants to inquire that much into the personal and health considerations of another person. Nor should they. If you have a situation where it’s impacting someone’s ability to do their job and it’s not a covered accommodation due to pregnancy, recovery from surgical procedure, disability or something similar, then HR might step in. But it happened twice or slightly more? No, not even.

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          I think though there’s a difference between leakage and puddle. If I constantly was having period issues (like I actually have before) and ruining the upholstery of my chair to the point where the chair needed to be replaced on a extreme basis, I could see a company getting upset about it. However, having a leaky bladder that just doesn’t like to cooperate? Well, as long as you don’t make a habit of sitting in your own urine puddle, I don’t think many people would care (or truly even notice).

          (Shout out to the gentleman when I worked for a health department that insisted on visiting me to have me read a letter we sent to him and every single time left a puddle in my upholstered visitor chairs….when the letters were that his house was being condemned because the floors were literally squishy with urine. Not to mention the urine he kept in jars.)

          1. stitchinthyme*

            That last bit…ew. I’m guessing the guy had some serious mental health issues.

          2. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

            Somehow, I don’t think this guy was having “accidents” in your chair.

            This seems way more like he was using reading the letters as an excuse to come in and pee in your chairs (or “have an accident” in your chairs.) Maybe it’s to “get back” at your office over the (very rightfully) condemned house, maybe he gets off on it, maybe [whatever], but I just don’t believe that this is innocent.

  101. AbsofreakinglutelyAnon*

    OP, my sympathies, and I strongly suspect that all of the others here have the right of it and that no one noticed (and no one who did notice will say anything). As for me, I had an incident at my previous job when what I thought was gas turned out to be… not just gas. I cleaned up as best I could, ducked around the corner, told my co-workers (in my small office) that I was having stomach troubles and needed to head home, dropped a plastic bag on my car seat, and one (unpleasant) car ride and a quick jog upstairs later, I was in my shower. My girlfriend (who was home at the time) asked me what was wrong, and I broke down completely in shame. She said everything that everyone else here has said (it happens, it’s no big deal, no one noticed, don’t think about it again), and she was right.

    1. Mr. Shark*

      That’s nice that she was sympathetic.
      Your quote “it happens, it’s no big deal, no one noticed, don’t think about it again” made me think of a quote by Rachel in Friends:
      “it’s not that common, it doesn’t happen to every guy. And it is a big deal!”

  102. Cranky Prognathodon*

    The 2-week-plus Period of Doom, and urinary tract issues led to several incidents back in the fall, and I still have spare underwear tucked in a drawer. AFAIK nobody ever noticed, despite the route to the bathroom going past several offices/cubicles.

    (uterine polyp removal, an IUD, and chill-pills for the bladder have made life much happier)

  103. JanetM*

    CW: Really gross body fluids

    About six months ago, I had a sebaceous cyst on my abdomen suddenly open and start draining — it didn’t hurt, and I had a bandage over it because it had been seeping a bit here and there, so I first noticed it when I brushed my arm against my shirt and came away wet. About a six-inch square section of my shirt was completely soaked in pus and fluid that, bluntly, was the color and texture of liquid foundation.

    I spent about half an hour in the restroom trying to mop it up enough to put a bandage over it, and then washing out my shirt, washing my hands, washing the counter, and muttering dire imprecations against both the dermatologist who hadn’t warned me that might happen and the purchasing agent who specced our paper towels, which are about one step up from brown wrapping paper. No one said a word, including the one person who came in while I was, um, squeezing and swiping. (When she walked in, I pressed some paper towels over the area, dropped my shirt, and turned aside, so she may not have seen what was happening.)

    1. Becky*

      The issue of someone walking in is often the biggest concern I have when I am needing to clean up after something (even something as innocent as a spill) which is why I am very glad that last year my company put one single-occupancy restroom in each wing on each floor.

  104. LKW*

    OK – I have had similar but not exact incidents which required the removal and disposal of undergarments and going commando for the day.
    I have worn my clothes inside out and had clients notice (multiple times).
    I have worn two different shoes to a work event. I had a spare pair under my desk. I took off my shoes for comfort, found my shoes with my feet – managed to put on one of each pair and went on my merry way.

    I swear I am a relatively competent adult but it really helps if you can laugh at yourself. One day this will be funny.

  105. QueerReader*

    If someone had peed there pants at work, I would feel sorry for them, more than anything. If your coworkers are decent people, even if they know what happened, they’ll for sorry for you and never mention it! We’re all human :)

  106. Fluff*

    Not sure what medical issues you have, but I have an over active bladder. I take 4000 mg of pumpkin seed oil. Works like a charm. I take two before bed and two in the morning. Bonus, my cholesterol has gone down. I also use pads justin case. No need to be embarrassed

  107. Catsaber*

    OP – it will be okay! I have been in your situation – in a couple of different ways. I had my second baby about 8 months ago, and things have just not been the same since. There have been a couple of times where I leaked…and I rushed to the bathroom and cleaned up, and no one ever noticed or said anything.

    A more visible (and embarrassing) thing happened to me a few months ago – I am breastfeeding my daughter and had to attend a long morning meeting. Normally I pump around 10am, but I was working with people on some things and just didn’t want to be bothered. Welp, I felt the milk let down and started leaking into my bra. I normally wear nursing pads, but there was just so much built-up milk that they soaked the pads and I felt milk rolling down my abdomen and soaking through my bra! I’m sure I turned bright red, but I just sort of closed my cardigan over me and rushed to the bathroom and cleaned up. And then I stopped in at Target on my way back to my office to buy a new bra and shirt.

    Point is – 99% of people are reasonable enough to not notice, not care, and definitely not embarrass you further by asking you about it. You do not need to say or do anything. Just let the feelings pass.

    Also – I highly recommend period panties for this purpose. The good ones can be pricey but if you buy like 5 pairs and just wear them during the work week, you don’t have to spend too much money. I like the Knixwear brand.

    1. Parenthetically*

      Oh my gosh, the milk leakage! I was in the middle of teaching when I realized my milk had just let down and I had forgotten my nursing pads! Fortunately I was wearing a sweater that didn’t change color much when wet, but I was still in the first weeks of breastfeeding and was like a freaking FIREHOSE. I could have wrung out my bra. None of my students noticed.

      1. Catsaber*

        What really makes me paranoid is the smell. No one really notices a random dark spot on a shirt, but to me, breast milk smell is STRONG. I’m sure it’s way worse in my own mind but I’m terrified people can smell THE MILK and are wondering what the hell I rolled in!

  108. KX*

    I spilled a good half cup of salsa on myself at lunch. I looked like a crime scene extra. In the bathroom I removed my dress, washed it with soap in the sink, and put it on basically wet (but not dripping). I returned to our open office in a wet dress and nobody noticed. Body heat dried it within an hour.

    People are OBLIVIOUS!

    1. Ginger Baker*

      I once changed completely (from one outfit into a bright green dress) towards mid-day, not for any wardrobe malfunction but just because I was getting ready to head out later, and BossMan as far as I can tell did not notice at ALL. It’s a bright kelly-green dress! I was wearing pants! But hey, who knows, maybe he *did* notice, presume I spilled something on myself and changed, and Quite Politely never commented at all. Because, indeed, that is What We Do. (And I have twice bled through my pants at work with light grey pants on! Enough so that both times I immediately left for home. And more than once had a leak that left me cleaning my chair off (sigh) but at least I knew was not noticeable (black pants). But by far my fave story to share here was not in public but just SO ridiculous: I rushed up to the bathroom upon waking, desperately and urgently needing to pee, but alas, I then stepped onto the very slick-when-wet bathroom floor where my usually-well-trained dog had peed that morning, slipped as I was rushed and not expecting Wet Floor, had a BIG banana-peel-level pratfall, and upon hitting the floor with my butt, my bladder promptly released completely all over the floor. Because of course it did. One shower and a whole ton of pee-cleanup later, I was finally able to leave for work!)

  109. Sylvan*

    Shit happens. Sorry you were embarrassed, OP!

    One time in college, I had an Emergency, left my dorm room for the bathroom, and locked myself out of the dorm room in the process. Campus police had to help me. I couldn’t look at campus cops for a while, but it’s funny, oh, eight, nine years later.

  110. red faced and*

    I had a perimenopausal flood on an upholstered chair at work. I blotted with a wet towel, pushed it under the desk, came in the next day with upholstery cleaner, confessed unnecessarily to the female office manager, and it was fine.

    I had been sitting bare legged in a conference room chair when I found out I had a stigmatized infectious skin condition. Some sick leave and chair quarantine, and it was fine.

    And I’ve also had a problem like yours, for which I tied a cardigan around my waist, avoided walking in front of people the rest of the afternoon, and it was fine.

    Digestive embarrassments have so far not happened at work.

  111. Zennish*

    Every one of us is a human being. We’ve all had human being problems. You’re not alone or somehow at fault because you did too.

  112. Dadolwch*

    I totally sympathize with the OP and so many commenters here. I had a similar issue occur at a previous job due to some lower GI issues I was dealing with at the time, and realized blood had leaked through my pants and into my chair. I also seriously considered just quitting then and there. I think I made some excuse about having a medical emergency, strategically placed some file folders on top of my chair, and hightailed it out with my jacket tied around my waist. I showed up extra early the next morning with the requisite bottle of fabric cleaner and prayed no one had moved the folders. I don’t know if anyone really noticed what happened, but no one ever mentioned it to me. Humans are gross – it happens to us all. I just wish there was less stigma about such things!

  113. GHI*

    Now that there’s presidence for this kind of thing, you may want to leave a change of clothing at your desk (or at least underwear, pants/skirt/dress, and stockings if you wear those). That way if this happens earlier in the day and you can’t leave right away you have options. Signed, someone who’s been there, done that too.

  114. GoldenRetriever*

    I agree that most likely no one noticed, and that if they did they would automatically assume you spilled water or coffee on your pants/chair but I also think that even if someone did think you peed your pants (which again, I think is really unlikely), the vast majority of people would be understanding, assume it was probably related to a medical issue, hope you’re okay and never say anything of it to you or anyone else.

    To make you feel better I’ll tell you about the time I went on a flight with brand new white jeans (that I LOVED, I was so excited to wear them!) and was chased from the plane all the way to the luggage carousel by a well meaning but not very tactful or discreet lady running behind me (I was walking fast, I was in a hurry!) screaming “EXCUSE ME! EXCUSE ME! YOU’RE BLEEDING! THERE’S BLOOD ON YOUR PANTS!” because my period showed up early.

    1. JanetM*

      I had someone drive past me in a parking lot, slow down, and fairly discreetly let me know I had blood stains on the back of my skirt. Fortunately, I was able to call my husband and ask him to bring me a clean one.

  115. I Speak for the Trees*

    Hi! I w0uld agree that no one noticed. And, if they did, I am sure that they wouldn’t say anything or think it anything but an accident. I used to be a teacher and this happened to a 7th grade student of mine… only it was poop. (He was really ill and had medical issues.) He ran off to the nurse and I had to find a way to clean it up. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a student doodling on their desk, and so I made the whole class clean their desks. This gave me time to clean up the kids’ mess. Did any kids notice? One out of 32 and that kid realized what was happening and thought it was “really nice” of me. And these were 7th graders, some of the meanest form of human alive. If they’d have noticed, they would have given this poor kid crap forever, but, like I said, only one did, and she was cool about it. I am sure you’re fine.

  116. Anne*

    I dealt with a period related version of this last year. At 35. I was mortified and very quickly had to leave and get medical attention (period from hell). I quickly informed my boss I was leaving mid day but otherwise nobody cared.
    I understand the mortification! You will be okay.

  117. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    I’m non-binary and got an IUD to stop periods; they do cause me distress. However, in the first few months, I would bleed heavily and unpredictably. Never leaked onto a chair but I did have to quickly leave at times due to the crime scene in my underwear! It was made worse by the fact that I am no longer comfortable using tampons with it in.

    Also, TMI, I once experienced something like the hallway in “The Shining” while enjoying time with my wife. I guess we were a little too enthusiastic.

    I was horrified for a moment because it was everywhere and dripping on me, but I never thought to be a jerk or go “eww!” Bodies do weird things.

    Also I am taking a new medicine and trying to drink more water…so, yep, some close calls, and sometimes I need to go again after I just went five minutes ago! I have upped my water consumption from about 16 to 64-90 ounces a day.

    1. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*


      I started my period while I was losing my virginity- to guy a I barely knew (went to college w/my brother, he was convenient.) We were doing it half clothed in a garage at a party and I can still remember the look of horror on his face when he stood up and the bottom hem of his sweatshirt was SOAKED in blood, literally dripping off. I just said “Whoops! Must’ve started my period!” And went skipping off to drink more booze and tell all my friends that I had FINALLY gotten laid.

  118. Batgirl*

    Oh OP, don’t question your adult-ness! Adults take care of business, however unexpected, and you handled this like a boss. Discretion, quick thinking, taking advantage of what was to hand and using the time of day to your advantage. This was a tale of keeping your cool.
    It’s shocking and mortifying to *you* because it doesn’t feel great to have your body rebel on you unexpectedly and something which instantly took up all of your notice must have made it onto someone’s radar, right?
    Not unless they are desperately interested in the shadings of light and dark on everyone’s bottom half; which in all honesty they probably aren’t. Go you, I say.

    1. Allya*

      Yes, I thought this as well! OP handled this like an absolute boss. If anything, I’m super impressed at how they handled it rather than judging them or anything like that.

      Also, as a mark of how incredibly unobservant most people are, one time I smuggled two kittens I wasn’t supposed to have out of my apartment under the literal nose of my landlord. We had an entire conversation!!! So yeah, don’t sweat it.

  119. I coulda been a lawyer*

    I try to think “What’s the worst that could happen?” And my worst was that first I peed my pants, and then in my rush to the toilet I peed on my pants as I pulled them down. During my first week at the most toxic job I have ever had. In 3 years there I was threatened, sworn at, had things thrown at me, had a coworker sue another for assault, … and yet the pee incident was never mentioned. I feel strongly that you are safe.

    1. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

      Many years ago a friend of mine, who was usually pretty prim and proper about bodily function stuff, said that party liners were for “soaking up the goo” and I still think it’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard.

  120. M*

    I once threw up all over myself on the bus to work, and had to go buy a whole new outfit once stores opened (I was pregnant and the thought of getting back on another bus or into a cab to go home was enough to turn my stomach). I did tell my boss, and I’m sure I smelled awful until mid-morning, but she has never mentioned it again and I try not to think of it.

    I also once had to leave a very full dance class mid-way through because the jumping was causing massive stress incontinence. Luckily I had a change of clothes with me, and I don’t think anyone caught on that was why I ran out of the studio, but it was pretty embarrassing at the time.

    All that to say, you aren’t alone! I’m sure no one noticed and if they did are polite enough to not say anything. I hope your doctor is able to help come up with a solution, and you’re able to put this out of your mind.

    1. Mrs. Fenris*

      In a class with a lot of jumping and a lot of ladies of a certain age, you get a lot of sudden dashes out to the ladies’ room…or the locker room.

      1. Liz*

        this is why I’m afraid to try yoga; not the peeing but I tend to be quite gassy. I can JUST picture myself doing some pose, and PFFFFT.

        like the time I was at the chiropractor. My very cute, funny chiropractor. Who did something, which involved some kind of manipulation or squeezing around my midsection, and TOOT. OMG i was so embarrassed. I just said “sorry” really fast, and we never spoke of it again. I’m quite sure he encountered many other things nastier than that but i was mortified. Thankfully it was a small, noisy poot but nothing more.

        1. Cassivella*

          When I worked for a cancer library, we actually used to show yoga poses that help you release gas to the cancer patients who recently had surgery.

  121. Beth*

    I have had this happen twice. Don’t feel bad. If this is a recurring issue, I hade to get personal but can you use those pads? They make them no one is the wiser. Hugs.

  122. Secretary*

    As soon as I saw this post I was like, “must check comments for epic discussion of bodily betrayals” and I was not disappointed.

  123. SigneL*

    OP, I’m glad so many people have shared their stories. I won’t share mine, but I wanted to say that I thought I was the ONLY ONE who had occasional problems. Thank you for writing Alison, and thank you, Alison, for your comments.

  124. Gina Linetti*

    I feel you, LW! Ever since menopause, my poor bladder seems to have shrunk up to the size of a walnut. I can’t tell you how many times I thought I didn’t have to go, then I stood up, and – oops!

    It’s embarrassing, but if your co-workers are decent people, they won’t mention it, if they even noticed at all.

  125. J*

    OP, I once peed my pants, pretty massivy, while standing up at my retail job. Like, I think I had to get paper towels for the floor. Several managers knew and they literally never mentioned it to me. And I’m sure that after a week, it stopped being a thing they thought about when they saw me.

    People are sympathetic and –as I’m learning from this thread! – this is way more common than you’d think.

  126. Ms.Vader*

    Fellow pant wetter here…My lungs had smoke damage from a fire in my region and I was at work talking to my boss when I coughed so hard I peed my pants standing right there in front of him. As in I was standing in a hallway and had NO barrier between us and I peed my pants. This was not a dribble by the way. Full bladder release. And as I was coughing he was definitely looking right at me.

    And you know what? He didn’t notice. Not even after we continued to chat for 10 minutes afterwards and I stood there with pee soaked undies and pants.

    So if I can get away with that, you can definitely be rest assured nobody noticed. Nobody.

    Also I find it helpful to think about how you would react if you saw someone else pee their pants or other embarrassing gaffes. I bet you’d react with compassion because that’s what humans do.

    Go back to work and don’t even blink about what happened. Most people probably actually have a similar story.

  127. Hold my beer*

    You wet yourself?

    Wait, hold my beer.

    I shat myself.

    Not only that, I did it in front of my boss.

    Wait, it gets better.

    I crapped myself in his brand new car.

    We had gone out for a team lunch. Something I ate didn’t agree with me. On the way back, we tried to no avail to find a restroom. Went into one business, and they said no public bathrooms. I didn’t make it to the second place. It just started coming out.

    When we got back to work, I turned a bathroom stall into a hazmat area. Then drove home, where I started having projectile vomiting, too.

    These things happen. If you don’t have an embarrassing public humiliation story, just wait. It will be your turn at some point.

      1. Hold my beer*

        I don’t recall his exact words. He basically told me not to worry about it.

        We never spoke of the incident again. We have remained in touch over the years. This was around 20 years ago. We are Facebook friends now. :)

        1. Liz*

          Sounds like a very cool boss! I mean what could he do or say? Clearly you reacted to something you ate, and had NO control over it at all.

  128. Allya*

    For some reason in high school I had an especially weak bladder. I used to frequently pee (sometimes more than a little) while laughing with my friends and it was absolutely mortifying but no one ever noticed. If teenage me can survive that, you can absolutely power through this. We’re all rooting for you :)

  129. JJ*

    I sympathize! I once peed my pants at like 10 a.m. and had a big meeting later. I lived quite far from the office so my solution was to go to the nearest department store (thankfully I had a long coat with me), bought another identical pair of pants and changed them in a McDonald’s bathroom. I spent the afternoon in meetings or strategically visiting colleagues’ offices, then came in super early the next day to deal with the chair. Stupid bodies!

    1. always in email jail*

      Hahaha I’ve done this! I bought a completely different outfit and claimed I had forgotten about the meeting while getting dressed that morning and didn’t think my outfit was formal enough.

  130. Wherehouse Politics*

    I had stress incontinence when I was a kid and had bouts of this (the worst was if I had a nervous laughter outbreak) off and on, though it lessened through most of adulthood (though I still do with a bad coughing/sneezing fit) but it even happened twice in college and I was immediately mortified…silent and dying in my seat. Didn’t have a lot visible empathy when I was caught out either.

    My first job out of college was in an afterschool daycare. One of the older girls (4th grade) just marched up to me one day in front of everyone and said, “Hey Ms_____ my friend made me laugh too hard and I just peed myself!! That’s so embarrassing!! Do you have any spare pants?” (We kept extras, usually for younger kids..but we found something for her. Told her stuff like this happens to everyone at some point, and she was just like…yep I know.) Kids around her were pretty cool about it (they heard and saw the whole exchange, including her wet pants) and though she wasn’t pleased with herself, she wasn’t a shrinking violet either. Wasn’t shouting it to the rooftops, but just sort of like, ugh…I need to fix this now, and not pretending otherwise.

    I just admired her frank attitude and the collective maturity about that incident in the room. Didn’t have that growing up myself.

  131. Urbanchic*

    I’m so sorry! That’s embarrassing. But in addition to this excellent response, as a pregnant person who has already had a baby, regrettably I’ve learned that tons of women have been in your shoes! It’s a medical thing and life happens. I hope the responses make you feel better and you can keep enjoying your new job like you deserve!

  132. MO*

    I was a high school teacher and had horrible morning sickness. I went to the student restroom to vomit between classes one day (it was closer). Totally peed my pants. I wrapped my jacket around my waist, called my principal, and said “I’m sick and leaving now. No, I can’t make it to the end of this class period. I don’t care if there’s no one available, someone needs to come down here Right Now.” Someone covered me, I went home, no one ever asked why I had a bulky winter jacket around my waist.

    My good friend, also pregnant, peed her pants in front of her 9th grade English class when she was about 8 months along. She thought her water had broken and rushed to the doctor. She had to come back the next day and explain to everyone that she had not, in fact, had her baby, but had peed her pants. She was the kind of person that would tell the story loudly to everyone and laugh, which helped. But even the 14-year-olds didn’t tease her – they were so sweet and sympathetic.

    It happens, and I’m sure no one noticed!

  133. Jenny*

    Being a nurse I felt I should add my two cents. As many have already said this is a taboo topic that is a very common problem among women but that we almost never talk openly about. Incontinence problems are common among women of all ages, even if it gets more common after pregnancy and childbirth there are plenty of women who have these problems before ever being pregnant. The number of women who are usually problem free but who have had an ‘accident’ once or twice because of unfortunate circumstances is larger still. Of course there are men with this problem as well but it’s way more commong among girls and women, at least before we reach old age. A canadian study showed that 17% of canadian high school girls aged 17 to 19 suffered at least one incident of urge incontinence (wetting yourself due to not making it to the toilet in time) during the past year. This is not an outlier result as a finnish study on childless women aged 20 to 24 showed the same thing. To be fair most respondents in both countries reported just one such incident and very few had recurring problems but it still shows how common occassional ‘accidents’ like these are even among young women. Among boys and men of the same age the number was around 1%. That’s a big difference. It usually happens just as they’re arriving home and struggle to open the door in time, it’s a phenomenon so common it has several names; latchkey incontinence or key-in-the-door incontinence. Part of it is psychological but much of it physiological as well, just like peeing yourself from laughing. The reason these things happen more often to women is because of a basic difference in male and female anatomy and it’s nothing we should be ashamed about. We need to talk about it more often. There are too many women who suffer in silence and shame.

    1. Linda Wong*

      I’m 25 and I’ve peed my pants twice as an adult. Once when I was 18 and once last year when I was 24. Both times I had been holding it for long and peed my pants in the elevator of my apartment building. It’s funny how much worse the urge to pee gets the closer you are to home. I can hold it for hours but as soon I’m about to enter my apartment building I start crossing my legs and hopping around. I know other women with similar stories to tell.

      1. Liz*

        yes! i am exactly the same. I am 2x+ your age, but i still have the same issue. I’ll be fine, ok yeah, i gotta pee, walk up the stairs, let myself into my apt, and OMG OMG OMG i am going to explode if i don’t get there NOW. it’s the oddest thing. I too can hold it for a long time, but I think my brain thinks, ahhhhh you’re home now, all bets are off.

        my friend, who is a bit older than I am, had the same thing happen, walking down the hall from the elevator to her apt, and peed down her leg and into her shoe

        1. Dust Bunny*

          I have a slight . . . phobia would be an overstatement, but I think I’m especially averse to bladder pressure. Not physically–it’s uncomfortable for everyone, sure, but no worse for me than for anyone else. But I’ve been on a couple of trips to places that don’t have a lot of public toilets and have become slightly fixated on never passing up an opportunity to use the restroom (Wales, despite having an economy that is pretty dependent on tourism, is not a good place to need to pee. You’ve been warned).

          1. nonegiven*

            This requires you rent a car.

            Carry plenty of paper with you and some trash bags or small shopping bags. First you open a front car door, then a back car door. Then you balance yourself on the edge of the car between the doors and pee. You can always have someone hold a towel or something in front of you if there is traffic in that direction, too. Then just be careful where you step when you try to get back in the car.

            There isn’t any other place to go in rural areas, either.

            1. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

              My mom grew up in a rural area, in the 1930s. She would pop a squat just about anywhere if the need were great enough, and taught me to do the same. It’s come in very handy to be able to run behind a fence, bush, dumpster, car, etc without hesitation or shame in an emergency.

        2. Linda Wong*

          As Jenny said, these things sometimes happen to younger women who have never had children as well. Nobody wants to admit it because it’s considered such a shameful thing for a young healthy woman to do. But once I told a few friends about it I soon found out I was not the only one who had peed herself. Those of my girlfriends who hadn’t were all very understanding because they know the feeling and have all had some close calls themselves. It happens, it really shouldn’t be considered such a big deal.

    2. Ash K*

      Thank you Jenny. Your post explains so much. It happened to me when I was 19, right on the porch! I remember feeling so embarrassed, I wasn’t drunk or anything, I just couldn’t hold it. I was even too ashamed tell my closest friends about it.

      Then, 4 years later when I was living in NY, my roommate peed her pants in the elevator after being stuck in traffic. She was this gorgeous fitness model and extremely healthy, I remember thinking if it could happen to her it could happen to anyone. Since then I’ve told a few of my friends about my incident, several years afterwards. And it turned out I’m not the only one. We just hadn’t told each other about it, despite sharing so many other secrets. It’s a shame something so common is considered such a taboo.

    3. Sparrow*

      I’ve never peed my pants yet (knock on wood) but I’ve been close and a few of my girlfriends have done it. I’m sure it will eventually happen to me some day soon. But your post reminded me of when I worked extra at a dry cleaner while at college 2 years ago. I was surprised at how many female customers came to us with their peepants, we got a few poop cases too but those were mostly guys, peepants were much more common and they were always women, of all ages. Accidents really do happen and yeah, pee accidents seem to very much be a girls’ thing haha. But I rather wash a woman’s pee pants than a guys poop pants. Final note: Don’t work at a dry cleaner if you got a weak stomach.

    4. Embarrassed OP*

      I’m glad I popped back to this post today. Thank you so much for your explanation. This makes me feel so much better, not that it’s such a common problem, but that I’m very much not alone!

  134. Melissa D.*

    There was a woman at my work who was having some medical issues and being worked up by her doctor to figure out what was wrong. She very obviously was sick, but still needed a paycheck. Well, one day she had an attack of #2. Wet, watery #2. She tried to make it to the bathroom, but didn’t make it a few feet past her desk. In her attempt to make it to the bathroom as discreetly as possible, she basically walked with her backside scraping the long hallway wall all the way to the bathroom. You can probably imagine how that went. Now instead of a mess in her pants, she basically smeared feces all the way down the 50 foot hallway. They made an intercom announcement that the main exit and hallway was closed and people would have to use the back stairs to leave the building, and one lucky volunteer (who ended up getting some pretty decent monetary compensation), spent a few hours with bleach, gloves, a hazmat suit, and a mask cleaning it up (in my line of work we had those things on hand). Those that were there to see it quickly spread the word about who had had the accident, and pretty soon our entire building of 150 people knew.

    I say this because that was utterly more public than your incident, and despite taking the rest of the week off, the lady came back. No one said a word about it to her, and people were actually extremely compassionate and sympathetic. Sure, we knew it had happened, but after a few weeks it was more along the lines of “Karen once microwaved fish in the breakroom” and less a defining event about her. She ended up being diagnosed with stomach cancer and going on disability, so it was all around a sad situation.

  135. Pickaduck*

    I love all the support you are getting here! So in the first month of my current job, which I have been at for 5 years now, I split my skirt revealing bright pink panties in front of one of my new employees, and had a coughing fit in a crowded training so much that I audibly passed gas. Somehow I am still alive and still at that job! And believe me everyone noticed both of those things. People are more sympathetic than you know. I do love the advice of going in and spilling tea on your chair and blaming it on on that though!

  136. shebrolet*

    Hello, lovely letter writer,

    I have Crohns Disease. It’s a very yucky condition, and it makes me occasionally incontinent from my bowel.

    I have left a work area to quietly fart, and ended up shitting my pants. Several times.

    You WILL recover completely from this, because I can assure you that if no one realises I had pooped my pants, no one will realise you had a wee in yours.

    Solidarity, my sister. And much love.

  137. ThatgirlWednesday*

    I had a medical issue (not a period) that left me basically hemorrhaging at work. I had to dash out to the ER and my chair def was covered (thank god for black chairs). I only told my boss (female). She was very gracious. I came in early the next day and scrubbed my chair. No one said a word.

  138. HailRobonia*

    The sink in our bathroom used to have an overly strong spray, and when you wash your hands if you don’t hold them the right way you get sprayed right across the front of your pants. Once this happened to me and then a coworker came in and noticed my pants. I said “uhh, that’s not my pee on me.” And without missing a beat he said “then whose is it?”

  139. 342g*

    if this is going to be an ongoing thing like you said, maybe you should wear protection.

  140. It happens*

    My best friend once said:

    “If you’re a woman and you have never peed your pants as an adult you’re either a liar or very very lucky!”

    Truer words have never been spoken.

  141. Dust Bunny*

    Agreed with pretty much everybody here: It sounds like nobody saw you, and even if I had seen such a thing “she wet her pants” would probably never cross my mind. Ask me how many times I’ve soaked myself in awkward places at the bathroom and kitchenette sinks!

    1. Dust Bunny*

      I also wouldn’t think anything of you scrubbing your chair. Furniture gets dirty/sticky/etc. It happens. The chairs in my office are ancient rejects from all the other departments and who knows what plagues they’re harboring.

  142. Amethystmoon*

    Embarrassing things happen to us all. We have light gray chairs at work. I have learned the hard way to be completely paranoid at that time of the month. I do keep stain remover stuff in my desk, just in case. But it’s irritating to have to worry.

  143. Oska*

    Allow me to TMI and dilute your embarrassment with my own… I’m 37 and have had bladder issues all my life (most likely a muscle that isn’t doing its job properly; I forget the exact most-likely diagnosis as I heard it 20 years ago). So this has happened so. many. times. Not just a little either. When the floodgates open, they do not shut. This is the sum of my experiences:

    – People are generally super polite and/or oblivious. Either they don’t see it, assume it’s something else, or realise the truth and then *immediately forget what they saw*. I’ve had to confess to at least three people when I’ve needed help (for someone to get my jacket so I could cover up, for example, or that one memorable time a friend and colleague wheeled my chair to the bathroom door and played it off like a game). Neither ever brought it up again, and even seemed confused if I said something like “you know what my bladder is like” when I needed the bathroom at any time later.

    – Nothing you do will make people think “she peed herself / her chair!”. Like the selective amnesia demonstrated in the point above, it seems to be the last explanation they turn to. Clean your chair. Say you spilled something. Heck, say you peed yourself, people will assume it’s a joke. It’s the go-to joke when someone spills their drink on their crotch, after all. Look them in the eyes. Assert dominance. ;)

    – Peed yourself at work? That’s probably all kidney-filtered tea/coffee/whatever. The kind of urine that doesn’t change the colour of the toilet water. You and your chair do not stink. (Ok, maybe most people can figure out that one; I’m anosmic and had to find out through roundabout queries.)

    I’m grateful for all the comments here saying it’s normal, btw. That’s probably part of the reason why people kindly forget it when they see it happen to others.

  144. Penny*

    Do you by any chance have a lower back injury? When I herniated L5/S1, my doctors all – like seven of them – asked if I’d ever lost bladder control randomly. If so, this can signal a serious issue. Please get to a doc if that applies!

    1. Dust Bunny*

      This happened to a coworker at Long Ago Job: He was in a car accident (another car rear-ended his) and . . . fortunately, the injury healed with no long-term effects, but he had, I guess a temporary shock to the spine and ended up wetting himself a couple of times (at home, thank goodness, but it freaked him out).

    2. Embarrassed OP*

      No, not a back injury. I didn’t want to say much about my medical stuff in the letter, but I had some issues with my ovaries and intestines. The loss of bladder control is from all the procedures I’ve had in that area.

  145. Boo!*

    Our office is very casual and at some time in any given day someone will jump out and scare someone and we all die laughing.

    The other day I did this to a co-worker … while video taping her reaction … which was to jump, gasp and then say “OMG, I just sh*t myself.” It happened. It’s on VIDEO. We are all still laughing and she still works here.

    99.99999999% sure no one even knows this happened to you. You’re all good and all the other people saying it’s a non-issue are exactly right.

  146. morethanasecretary*

    It happens. I was once so busy during THAT time of the month that I leaked through my feminine hygiene products (I use both just in case while I’m at work). Luckily I caught it in time and when people asked by I was cleaning my chair, I said I spilled my coffee. I was the last person out of the office that day.

    Please don’t quit a job you love – they’re so hard to find! I am pretty sure that no one will notice, and people will think you spilled water on your chair.

    If you’re not familiar with that particular aisle at the pharmacy, there are very discreet products that are not bulky in the least! I’ve recently found out because, well as you get older, ALL of your muscles tend to lose their muscle tone, and accidents tend to happen with sneezes and such…

  147. Secretary*

    This post sparked a discussion between my husband and I about how we’ve noticed as we get older we get up in the night to pee more.

  148. Phx Acct, now with dragons*

    It happens. It’s happened to me a number of times – I just keep a cardigan on my chair for emergency cover-up.

  149. Cassivella*

    I worked at a large university where at least two people had massive, explosive diarrhea while at work.

    It was horrifying.

    But, no one (even the student employees) even thought to make fun or spread gossip. The ladies all banded together to come up with emergency clothes and rides home to change.

    So, even if everyone in the office noticed, they aren’t going to make fun. At worst, they will just feel sorry for you.

    (And remember that over 50% of women over 40 have bladder issues)

  150. Pat*

    Bring in some cleaning wipes and other stuff and wipe down your whole desk and chair. If anyone notices, they will just think you’re a germ-a-phobe or like things clean. And like others have said, very unlikely anyone saw that you wet your pants, since you were behind your desk.

  151. Someone else mortified*

    This is so timely, because (oh my god) I got my period early the other week and…. yeah. I was wearing brown/moderately dark pants but it was very obviously wet… it didn’t even look like I got my period (thank god I wasn’t wearing white pants) but rather just look like I wet myself. Thankfully I am 99.9% sure no one noticed… but just know you are not alone in experiencing mortifying moments!

  152. What do I do when I pee? Depends!*

    I also have a genetic connection that makes me pee when I’m not expecting it. The first time it happened in the office I was wearing khaki pants and it was VERY VISIBLE. Fortunately, I happened to have a long duster-style cardigan I was able to wear to the bathroom, but I was uncomfortable for the rest of the day in my damp pants.

    I tried wearing liners, but my body has a terrible sense of humor in that when I cough and pee leaks out, it shoots up the crack of my ass and lands about the pad! The only bright side is that it looks like I somehow got my lower back wet instead of in the obvious “Hey, she peed herself!” area.

    I’ve given up and switched to full on underwear-style Depends. I never know which days I’m going to need them so I just always wear them. You literally cannot tell I’m wearing them by looking at me, but I recommend not wearing low-rise pants or making sure your shirt is long enough to cover in case you need to bend over.

    As you can tell by this thread, it happens to a lot of us!

  153. Rebecca*

    I feel for you. And I agree with Ask a Manager–it is vanishingly unlikely that someone noticed.

    If you don’t want to wear pantyliners or Depends, Icon Undies makes *normal looking underwear* for exactly this type of situation: https://www.iconundies.com/

    You are normal; I am so sorry this happened to you. *hug*

  154. K*

    Oh, you poor soul.

    I think everyone here has it right– it is so, so unlikely that anyone noticed. It’s even less likely that if they did, they assumed it was anything beyond an unfortunate spill.

    I’d also add that I think it’s spectacularly unlikely that, even if someone did notice and guess/assume/ determine the actual cause, s/he would be boorish enough to actually bring it up. As others have mentioned, this kind of event would (and did) only occur as a result of a medical issue. Pointing that out would be entirely uncouth. It would also be impossible for you not to have been aware of it in the moment, so it’s not like anyone could say anything under the guise of bringing it to your attention. If anyone does, you should feel entirely free to be mortified– on their behalf, for having no idea at all how to behave. A very brief “I do not have any desire to discuss my health at work” with a tone and look that conveyed your disapproval would almost certainly be the end of it.

    Hold your head high, OP.

  155. Korean lady*

    I was a young fresh woman in my early twenties when I full on peed my pants in the elevator of my apartment building after a long day of work. Though there were no witnesses to my embarrassing predicament I felt deeply ashamed because I thought it only happened to pregnant women or to old people. Not to young women like myself who had never been pregnant and led healthy active lives. I kept it a secret for years. It’s only recently I’ve learned to laugh about it, and since I’ve I told the story to my friends it turned out that most women I know can recount at least one similar incident from their young adulthood too, we just never told each other. Women are wired differently down there which makes it harder for us to hold it when the bladder is full. It’s just how it is. It’s much more common than we think.

  156. Picker of Nits*

    OP, unless the chair smells, your co-workers do not know what happened and will never know what happened. Don’t fret. Perhaps have extra measures at hand in a discreet drawer, but don’t panic.

    Signed, someone who has menstruated onto office chairs in two different jobs now.

  157. Shelly G*

    Don’t feel bad at all last week my son and I were stuck in bad traffic as soon as I got a store to pee I peed my pants pulling into there parking lot. My son did too sitting traffic. Had to drive home witha a wet butt

  158. s0nicfreak*

    Scrubbing down the chair the next day isn’t going to be enough… the chair is going to eventually smell. You’re going to have to get an enzyme-based urine remover, saturate the chair and let that soak in. You could say you spilled coffee on there and are trying to get the stain out.

  159. tripichick*

    depends are a girl’s best friend. a stroke left me with no sensation, so I just run to the bathroom five times a day.

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