Relationships with and attitudes toward periods are complicated beasts. You might be mildly annoyed by them, mystified by their exact mechanics, grossed out by them, feel like they worsen body dysmorphia, or use them to make ritualistic sacrifices to the gods so the aphids will stay out of your cherry tomatoes.
Whatever the case, when it comes to sexual activity when you or your partner are having their menstrual cycle, there is absolutely NO medical reason why not to, but plenty of reasons why people tend to be a little bit hesitant.
Here is everything you need to know about getting frisky when Aunt Flo’s in town, from talking about it with your partner to managing mess!
What does Period Sex feel Like?
Period sex, you may be surprised to know, is an awful lot like normal sex. The major differences are that there will already be a lot more lubrication (yay!), it can be a lot messier depending on the flow (boo!) and sensation might be a bit different for the menstruating partner.
Basically, the entire vulva may be more sensitive due to increased blood flow (not the same blood that’s coming out, obviously) to the area, which can be a great thing. However, during menstruation the cervix can hang lower than usual, which means deeply penetrative sex might be off the menu.
Everything else―PinV, oral, fingering, anal―is doable, but may require some extra precautions for cleanliness and hygiene, which we’ll discuss later on.
Why Have Period Sex?
Periods can come with a lot of sucky symptoms, but thankfully, some can be managed by having sex! Heck, your body might even be pushing you to that conclusion already, as many people report getting extra horny on their period.
When experiencing sexual stimulation, your body’s oxytocin levels rise, which in turn gets your pituitary gland to pump out endorphins that will dull any pains you might be feeling from cramps. There are is also some support for the idea that the contractions of your pelvis during orgasm can lighten the sensation of cramping!
Do you find yourself getting moody and feeling emotionally needy during your period? Having sex with a partner can give you the sense of closeness and satisfy your craving for affection!
Even if cramping or mood swings aren’t an issue for you during your period, it can still be a disruption of your day to day life when you deal with it, so much as the smiling active ladies combating blue fluid in tampon ads, having sex on your period as per normal is another way that you can stick a middle finger to your uterus and say ‘Hey! I’m not letting you stop me from doing what I want, like getting laid!’
How to Talk to Your Partner About Having Period Sex
While your immediate response to a partner being squeamish about having sex while you’re on your period might be ‘What are you, 12?’ we can vouch for the fact that this is not the most constructive way to start that, or any, conversation.
Again, a lot of people of all bodies may have a lot of misinformation and/or shame about periods AND sex, so it’s no wonder that not everyone is automatically comfortable with period sex. A little education and a lot of understanding goes a long way on both sides of the equation.
As with anything, it’s best to be straight up about the whole thing. Tell your partner why it’s not that a big deal―it’s safe and enjoyable for both partners―or why you’re not comfortable with it―your cramps are too intense, blood makes you queasy, whatever―and in turn respect your partner. Some people will feel completely cool discussing the ins and outs of the exact ebb and flow of their period that day, and some might want to elaborate beyond ‘I know I we’ve had period sex before but trust me, tonight it’s not on.’ (Hey, there can be a lot of factors at play!)
How to Actually Have Period Sex
Now, if you and your partner gung ho to get on the period sex train (or boat, perhaps?) you might still have some questions about how you go about having sex on your period and not have your bed end up looking like a crime scene.
If your flow is quite light, you will probably be fine just by putting an old towel down, and stick to positions like missionary, which―thanks to gravity―should keep things relatively clean. If you’re particularly nervous about soaking through to the sheets, you can always opt for the floor which has the added bonus of no squeaky bedsprings!
If the actual blood is not an issue for either person so much as the cleanup, go ahead and jump in the shower together! It will also cover any lingering fears you may hold about cleanliness.
Whether you choose to knock boots in the bed or the bath, condoms should be worn by be-penised partners during PiV sex, because despite any old wives’ tales, you CAN get pregnant while on your period. Also, it can aid in mess minimizing!
If you’re not sure you want to take the plunge, you can still partake in all the other sexual acts that you normally enjoy, depending on your method of menstrual care.
If you use tampons, we would not recommend having penetrative sex unless you are in the mood for discomfort and potentially panic when you can’t reach the string to pull it out. On the legitimately scary side, if you’re really unlucky the penis or dildo could push it into place that so it actually gets wedged up in one of the folds, or pokes your cervix, which could potentially cause damage. So yea, basically just don’t.
If you use a menstrual cup, you might find that removing a full cup just before penetrative sex might already be pretty mess free, but you can also keep most cups in for clitoral stimulation or shallow fingering or penetration with a vibrator, depending on how high it sits within your vagina. There are certain types of soft menstrual cups that sit much higher than normal more rigid cups, which mean you can have penetrative sex with them in.
A lot of people assume that if their partner has their period that means a week of getting blow jobs. While yes, there’s absolutely no reason to not give head when on the rag, just because someone is menstruating doesn’t mean that mutual pleasure totally goes out the window!
And as for opting for anal sex, that is always an option, though many people find that being on their period results in ‘digestive issues’ (ie gas, constipation, diarrhea, etc) so that might be something that can only be attempted if the period-haver is feeling quite confident.