All you need to know about period sex

  • READING TIME 5 MIN
  • PUBLISHED November 02, 2023
  • AUTHOR Donna

Key takeaways

  • Period sex can offer benefits such as relief from menstrual cramps and headaches, as well as provide natural lubrication for a more pleasurable experience.
  • Practicing good hygiene and using protection, like condoms, is essential during period sex to reduce the risk of infection due to changes in vaginal pH.
  • Pregnancy remains a possibility during period sex, particularly for those with shorter menstrual cycles, so considering risks and employing contraception is crucial.
  • Communication and comfort are key for a satisfying period sex experience; experimenting with different positions, using dark sheets, and trying soft tampons or menstrual cups can help reduce messiness and enhance enjoyment.

All you need to know about period sex

Celibacy during your menstrual days is optional – period sex can be as peachy as any other if it’s comfortable, safe and fun. It may even help ease those pesky cramps!

If fooling around is not at the top of your period agenda, that’s completely fine. If you don’t want to skip the good times, that’s also great. Period sex can be as normal as sex gets, save a bit of messiness on the sheets which is also avoidable. Read on to find out more about it.

Benefits of period sex

Orgasms fight cramping pain

Doctors say that orgasms may relieve menstrual cramping pain. After you climax, the uterine muscles soften, easing the usual tension during periods. Sex also triggers feel-good endorphins, which can get your mind off the pain and discomfort. “It only works, however, if sex or masturbation is not forced,” gynaecologist and sex therapist Dr. Miriam Mottl explains.

Also, keep in mind that even the best orgasm may not help if the cramping pain is caused by a disease of the reproductive organs and not by normal menstrual uterus contractions. If an underlying condition is the culprit, “sex probably won’t help as this kind of pain often keeps getting worse,” says doctor Mottl. She suggests visiting a gynaecologist who will examine the pain and propose possible treatments.

Less intensive headaches

Menstrual migraines occur because oestrogen levels drop as your body prepares to menstruate. This kind of migraine is most likely to hit just before your period starts or in the following three days. Can throwing yourself a hand party or going all the way help with the pain? One study found that yes, having sex can indeed lead to “partial or complete relief of headache in some migraines”. 1If you feel like it, it’s worth a try.

Periods can make sex smoother and more pleasurable

Some women+ have to deal with persistent vaginal dryness that may be caused by a bunch of reasons, lack of arousal being one of them. A bit of period blood can help make things much smoother. “For some women, a slight swelling of the tissue may even feel somewhat pleasurable,” doctor Mottl points out.

What to watch out for

First thing first – normal menstrual blood is not toxic or has any bad bacteria in it. That being said, period sex does come with a higher chance of infection. The reason is that menstrual blood can change the pH of your vagina which increases the likelihood of contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI) from a partner who is infected. “If you have unprotected sex and some dirt gets down there, then you’ll have the best breeding ground for bacteria and viruses,” Dr. Mottl warns.

There are different types of infection that may occur: STIs and yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis. The latter two are problems caused by changes in normal vaginal flora. The best line of defence here is a simple condom – consider using it especially if you are not in a long-term partnership.

Can you get pregnant?

If you want to have unprotected sex (without wanting to conceive), periods are your best chance. That doesn’t mean that you can’t get pregnant at all. Dr. Mottl wants you to keep in mind: “If you have a shorter cycle, it is possible that an egg is in the process of maturing even though you have your period. We are talking about very short cycles that last 20 or 21 days. The possibility of conceiving is even higher if the partner has good sperm that can survive up to seven days. And only one sperm cell is enough”. Learn more about the fertility window here.

We encourage you to consider the risks if you are not planning to get pregnant. Unprotected sex always feels like throwing dice, and gambling is not a good birth control method.

Best positions for period sex

Are there any special period sex rules when you start fooling around? There are none, save one – it has to feel good and comfortable. If it starts to hurt, let your partner know. “Everyone likes different things and there is probably no right or wrong here. It’s true that the uterus is more sensitive during menstruation because it is swollen and contracting. You can, therefore, imagine that deep-penetrating positions may not be pleasant for most women”. On the other hand – many women+ say that lying on their backs, the missionary style, feels best as this position also reduces the blood flow.

The name of the game is to try it out. “See how different positions feel for you. Maybe some are more pleasurable for you at the beginning of the cycle than at the end. Go for it with some humour and don’t try to force yourself,” Dr. Mottl adds.

Also, remember that penetrative sex is just one of the options – the oral version may do the trick just as well. “If you use a tampon or a menstrual cup and you feel comfortable with it, nothing speaks against it.” Just remember to take the tampons out after you’re done.

How to talk about it

Period sex might not be up your alley – and that’s ok. “There’s no point in forcing yourself into anything. Do it only if it feels good for you, otherwise, leave it,” says Dr. Mottl.

It’s important to communicate your urges and ideas with your partner. If you feel uneasy bringing the subject up without some context first, hijack a TV commercial for tampons as a segue. “I would definitely bring it up before. If you have sex in the dark and suddenly everything is covered in blood, some might get scared,” suggests the gynaecologist.

It can, however, easily happen that you get your period during rumpy-pumpy. “That is often how couples start talking about it and see it’s not so bad. You can wash everything off, nothing bad happens.” But, at the same time, keep in mind that “just because it was nice once doesn’t mean it will be nice the next time, or because it was bad twice doesn’t mean it can’t be nice the third time”.

Tips and hacks

Period sex comes with some “logistical challenges”. Follow our tips and make it super-comfy.

Use dark towels

Put a darker towel underneath and stop worrying about staining those precious white sheets.

Wash hands

Personal hygiene is even more important when you have your period. Also, remind your partner to wash their penis and hands before going in.

Arm yourself with wet wipes

Keep a wet washcloth or wet wipes by the bed to clean up afterwards.

Use soft tampons

Soft tampons are god-sent for period sex. You push it up in your vagina as far as possible, preferably with a little bit of lubricant or water. The tampon should lie in front of the cervix where it absorbs the blood. “Your partner may not notice it at all,” Dr. Mottl explains. Just don’t forget to change it after 4 to 6 hours, just like you would change a normal tampon.

Consider special cups

There is another product that lets you have period sex without messiness. We are talking about a special menstrual cup that looks like a small disc. It sits higher inside your body, on your cervix, keeping the blood from flowing down. You can leave it in for 12 hours and the odds are that your partner won’t even know unless you tell them.

Wait for the last days

One of the biggest misconceptions about periods is the amount of blood released. On average, women+ menstruate only around one espresso cup of blood, most of it in the first two days. If your flow is lighter later on, try having sex on those days. However, if sex on day 1 of your period doesn’t bother you or your partner, go for it.

REFERENCES

  1. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0333102413476374
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