Edited by Toni Brannagan and Brianna Flaherty
A lot of people have hang ups about sex *and* about periods, so combining the two can seem a little scary and feel uncomfortable to talk about.
But the truth is that sex on your period has the potential to be pretty effing great, in more ways than one. (Example: Natural lube!) If you’re still on the fence, here’s an abridged list of benefits that engaging in period sex can deliver:
improve your mood
Orgasms have been proven to release endorphins, which are chemicals that increase feelings of pleasure and decrease feelings of pain. So, whether you’re cramping physically *or* emotionally, period sex might be a pretty fun solution. In short, if you’re feeling down, maybe think about doing it.
alleviate PMS symptoms
Your blood flow increases when you climax and your uterine muscles release pain-relieving chemicals to your brain — this double duo means real-life cramp relief. (And you get an orgasm? Win win!)
For a lot of people, their flow comes with pretty serious headaches, which is where period sex can come in handy. According to one study, 70% of migraine patients who engaged in sexual activities during an attack reported moderate to complete relief. The running theory is that the endorphins released during orgasm act like opioids in the brain, and help stave off migraines — a pretty cool tip, whether you’re on your period or not.
okay, but is period sex safe and sanitary?
“Abso-freaking-lutely!” says New Jersey-based gynecologist Dr. Angela Jones. “The biggest barrier to period sex is usually the individual on their period. It’s the same reason women don’t want to come to the gynecologist when they’re on their period. They are embarrassed, afraid of making a mess. It’s absolutely normal to have sex during your period.”
However, if you are engaging in reproductive sex, it’s still essential to use birth control. Ideally, the barrier method (condoms) — your period won’t protect you from getting STIs, and pregnancy is still a possibility. Depending on cycle length, some people can experience late ovulation within 5 days of their period — so protection can still be important, even while you’re menstruating.
doesn’t period sex get… *messy*?
“Nothing a dark towel, positioning (may be less messy having sex on your side or in the missionary position), or shower sex can’t either alleviate or make less of a concern,” says Dr. Angela.
The average amount of flow during your period is less than 60 ml—that’s only like a shot glass’ worth—so even if you do end up making a bit of a mess, it should be much more manageable than you might imagine.
You can explore products like FLEX, “a period product that's shaped like a disc and sits in the same space inside of your body as a diaphragm.” Lauren Schulte, co-founder and CEO of the company tells us. “It works differently than a tampon or a menstrual cup because it does not plug your vaginal canal.” It’s safe to use for both penetrative and non-penetrative sex during your period, “including oral sex.”
so, how exactly do you *do it*?
“Listen to your body,” Sacramento-based sex educator and associate marriage and family therapist Louise Head says. “About 85% of people experience some type of abdominal cramping during their period. This could make some sex positions uncomfortable, so just make sure to find one that isn’t triggering cramps.”
She also reminds us: “During menstruation is a great time to remember that sex doesn’t mean just penetration. Penetrative sex during your period is great, but if you don’t want to interact with your blood, there are still lots of sex options.”
There are plenty of sexy options to engage in outside of penetrative sex, including extra-focused attention on the clitoris. However, because blood acts as a natural lubricant, penetrative sex might feel even better than usual during this time of the month.
According to Emily Varnam, birth worker and co-founder of The Fifth Vital Sign, “The cervix moves during the cycle in line with fertility, getting closer and further away from the uterus.” The cervix is low during menstruation, and, according to Emily, “It takes at least twenty minutes for the uterus to pull the cervix up, so to make space for penetrative sex, at least twenty minutes of foreplay is needed.”
… As if anyone needs an excuse for extra foreplay!
Do you have any reservations about period sex? Or have you in the past? Any tips? Share your stories with us below!