You have your period. You may be feeling bloated, moody and—horny. After all, your sexual needs don’t take a hiatus just because you’re bleeding. Many people notice an increase in their libido during their period or right before menstruating.
While masturbation is always a fabulous option for sexual release during your period, there are times when you may want to have some fun in the sack with your sexual partner. But should you?
If you’re feeling hesitant about having sex while you’re bleeding, you’re not alone. Many people are uncertain about period sex or have questions about whether or not sexual activity is okay during menstruation. Let’s dive in and talk about the wonderful, messy world of period sex.
1. Prepare for a little mess
Having sex during your period is safe, but you’ll want to be prepared for a messier-than-usual romp. To avoid bloodstains on your sheets or furniture, lay a towel down before you get busy. If you’d rather avoid the mess, you may prefer to wait to have sex until your flow is lighter.
“If you want to minimize mess or prefer not to have sex when you’re bleeding heavily, you can still engage in sex play before your period is completely over,” Carol Queen, Staff Sexologist at Good Vibrations tells Sexual + Being. “This can help you get used to a little blood during sex. This can also be a big step towards lowering your inhibitions, and really enjoying yourself.”
If you plan on penetration being a part of your sexual activities, be sure to remove your tampon or menstrual cup ahead of time. Having sex with a tampon or other feminine hygiene device may push it further up into your vagina and lead to pain, toxic shock syndrome, or an infection.
2. Practice safe sex
Though your chances of conceiving are lower during your period, you still run a very small risk of getting pregnant, so if you really don’t want that to happen, be sure to use some form of contraception.
Additionally, your chance of contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI) increases during your period. This is because when you’re bleeding, your cervix opens slightly to allow blood to pass from the uterus, which means that harmful microbes can pass through the cervix more easily. And when you’re menstruating, your vagina lacks its usual protective acidic pH that typically helps prevent the passage of some bacteria and viruses So if you’re concerned about STIs, it’s important to use protection even when you’re menstruating.
3. Communication is key
Some people are squeamish about having sex with a partner while they have their period. This is perfectly okay! Others may want to have period sex, but aren’t sure how their partner feels about it. Will they be grossed out? Hesitant? Scared of the blood? Or totally on board?
The only way to find out is through open dialogue with your partner on both of your feelings about having sex while you’re menstruating. Be open, honest, and direct in your communication. If one or both of you feel hesitant or uncomfortable with oral sex or penetrative sex, try using sex toys to help you get off.
“I was so nervous to approach the conversation with my boyfriend,” says Michelle C., a self-proclaimed period sex proponent, tells Sexual + Being. “But talking with him and addressing my fears and his reservations helped us both. Now, we have fantastic sex no matter what time of the month it is.”
Benefits to having period sex
Having sex during your period is not only pleasurable, but it has health benefits, too! Let’s explore some of the health benefits of having sex while menstruating.
1. Relief from menstrual cramp pain
Rather than reaching for the ibuprofen the next time you have painful menstrual cramps, try having an orgasm instead. Orgasms can help reduce your menstrual cramps because the muscles in your uterus contract when you orgasm. Bonus: these contractions also help your uterine lining shed faster (albeit marginally)!
2. Improve your mood
Feeling sensitive, irritable, and emotional are all common in the days leading up to and during your period. Orgasms release endorphins (happy hormones!) into your bloodstream, making you feel good and helping curb any menstrual moodiness you may be experiencing.
“I can be a bit of a grouch when I’m menstruating, thanks to cramps and a general ‘blah’ feeling,” Laura B. tells Sexual + Being. “But my libido is usually pretty high at this time too. My partner and I have both noticed a big improvement in my mood after we have sex.
3. Reduce headaches
Many people experience headaches as a result of hormonal changes during their period. And we all know “honey, I have a headache” is a common excuse used to avoid having sex with a partner. But did you know, orgasms actually help relieve headache pain? Research shows that sexual activity can actually relieve the pain experienced from migraines, cluster and tension headaches.
Just because you have your period doesn’t mean you have to put the brakes on sexual pleasure for a few days. Period sex is absolutely normal and can be pleasurable. If you or your partner are on the fence, you can avoid penetrative sex and instead focus on clitoral stimulation. Using vibrators and other sex toys can help elevate the pleasure you have in the bedroom too, whether solo or with a partner. No matter what time of the month it is, it’s okay to dive right in and have some fun.