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Sexual Wellness

A Complete Guide to Period Sex

| 01/27/2021

period sex Illustration by Rachel Jo

Period sex has a long history of being stigmatized as unsavory or unclean, but thankfully, attitudes are changing. According to data collected by Simpatic.us from over 4,000 male and female users, 38% of men and 31% of women say they are interested in having sex during menstruation. Who wants to skip sex, or limit their sexual activity to masturbation, anywhere from three to seven days every single month because of a little sloughing? I sure don’t.

Some uterus-havers are actually more turned on and have stronger sex drives during their periods. Hormones are ablaze for many of us during our periods. In a survey of over 500 people asking them their thoughts on period sex, 30% of women actually want to have more sex on their period than any other time.

If you’re looking to have a normal sex life during what your mother called “that time of the month,” but aren’t sure how to get around some of the messier elements, we have some tips for you. Here’s everything you need to know about period sex.

Health benefits of period sex? There are quite a few.

One of the best things about period sex is that it can help alleviate some of the more irritating symptoms that come along with having your period.

For instance, having period sex can seriously help with menstrual cramps and period-induced headaches. When we orgasm, our bodies release oxytocin and endorphins, which are natural pain-relievers. Why take an ibuprofen for period cramps and headaches if you can have an orgasm instead? Plus, menstrual blood can be a really awesome natural lubricant, once you get used to the idea of colored lube. 

Of course, there are also risks involved. Your period changes the pH of your vagina, throwing off the delicate balance of lactobacilli. This can increase your chances of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and sexually transmitted diseases like hepatitis B (STDs) if you’re having sex with a partner, so it’s important to use barrier methods like condoms and dental dams if you’re not sure of your partner’s STI status. But let’s be real, you shouldn’t be having unprotected sex during any time of the menstrual cycle if you aren’t sure about your partner’s STI status.

You can get pregnant on your period, ya hear?

Something else to consider: pregnancy risk and contraception. The myths that you can’t get pregnant while on your period are misconceptions. This is incorrect. While somewhat unlikely, your ovulation cycle is dependent on a number of factors and varies from menstruator to menstruator. For most people, ovulation begins 7 to 12 days after the start of your last period, but sperm can live inside the body for up to seven days. This means you could ovulate while living sperm are still inside your body.

So, while your risk is low, you should still use a form of birth control while on your period to avoid unplanned pregnancy.

There are ways to minimize mess.

It always comes down to the mess, doesn’t it? We get weird around blood. Blood coming out of a vagina isn’t in line with the cultural narrative of “feminine cleanliness.”

If you’re going to have period sex, mess is part of the territory. It doesn’t matter if it’s your heaviest day or your lightest day – you’re menstruating, and there will be some menstrual blood. The first step is accepting this fact. 

Talk to your partner about the period sex situation before you have it. As normal as period sex should be, it can be a shock to both partners if you haven’t done it before (and not in a good way). Once you’ve been open with your sexual partner about the realities, you can form a game plan for execution.

  • A blood-colored towel: My favorite solution is as simple as it sounds: Throw down a red or brown towel. Just make these your designated period sex towels and leave them in the back of your closet.
  • Shower sex: Another way to combat bloodstains is shower sex. The water from a shower (ironically) makes your vagina less wet as it washes away your body’s natural lubrication. But during period shower sex, there is so much extra wetness that this problem is virtually eliminated. Plus, the blood simply washes away. Problem solved.
  • No-mess discs: There are some products that boast the convenience of providing “mess-free” period sex. Flex, for example, is a wearable period “disc,” or menstrual cup, that sits up near the cervix, meaning your vaginal canal is technically available for penetration. I tried Flex for Allure a few years ago. I would deem it only “alright” for period sex. I found that penetration had to be shallow in order to be comfortable. 
  • Soft tampons: Another no-mess period sex product includes “soft tampons,” such as Beppy. These tampons are designed to go unnoticed during period sex. Whether they work for you will depend on your body. Everything is about preference.

My partner at the time said he could feel Flex during sex, which was kind of a buzzkill. Lucy Rowett, ACS, a certified sex coach and clinical sexologist, says this is pretty standard. “Depending on the angle you are being penetrated (like the positions you are in), the size and shape of your partner’s penis, or if you’re just getting really into it, your partner can sometimes feel your period product,” she says.

Personally, I’d rather just have the messy period sex. It’s less of a hassle. But it all comes down to what works for you and what you and your partner are comfortable with. If you’re using a menstrual sex solution, be sure to let your partner know to avoid any disturbances. Sex should be a pleasurable experience for everyone involved, so everyone should be on the same page. 

Rowett agrees. “It doesn’t need to be a long speech,” she says. She recommends something along the lines of: “You’re so hot, I’m so horny right now. By the way, I’m wearing my Flex/Beppy tampon/disc because I’m on my period. Let me know if it’s an issue for you – otherwise, let’s go!”

Or you could embrace the mess!

There is something very primal and animalistic about blood. I once left a bloody handprint on the wall of a guy’s apartment and still fantasize about it. If you can stomach blood (or if it turns you on a little, no judgment), we suggest going at it full force. Your sheets can always be bleached, right?

And just a reminder: Your sex toys are washable, so no need to have extra-careful, boring sex. Grab your Fin or Eva to get in on those orgasms. These toys are made from medical-grade silicone and are stain-proof. You just wash them with warm water and soap.

Oral sex is still on the table.

Being on your period does not mean you can’t have oral sex. I recommend having your partner stick to the clitoris, if you’re trying to avoid a mess or any contact with menstrual blood. You can simply leave your tampon in and have them focus on the outside. There’s no need to clip the string or try to conceal your period in other “coy ways.” It’s 2021 – periods happen and we need to be chill about it.

If you’re not against a period sex mess and your partner is cool with earning their “red wings,” have at it. There’s no reason you can’t go au natural and live your damn life.

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