SKIP AHEAD. . .
Most of us grew up with little-to-no effective menstrual and sexual education, and the education that we did receive was most likely not talking about pleasure, much less engaging in sex while menstruating. Can you imagine that going down in your middle school health class? We think not!
Especially during adolescence, many of us fall into the idea that periods are secret and gross and should be generally hidden or avoided. Thankfully, there is a whole movement to try and shift this mindset; not only to remind people that the menstrual cycle is actually a vital sign of overall health, but that periods can actually bring pleasure too! Let’s break it down.
Here are some of the common concerns that deter us from period sex:
My partner will think it’s gross.
We know periods bring with them er, some extra things to navigate during intimacy. Communication is key here. It may actually be the case that your partner doesn’t care. Hey, they may even like it! Communication is key. And if they aren’t willing to communicate then, well, that gives you some food for thought anyway.
It will make a mess.
Sometimes! But if you’ve had a period, then you know that there isn’t always a flood of blood pouring out of you. You may be surprised by how little actually comes out while you’re gettin’ down. With this said, we have tips, tools and tricks (like FLEX’s menstrual discs!) for you below. Keep on readin’ everybody!
It will smell bad.
It’s true that periods have their own brand of scent, if you will. But usually an unpleasant stench is more so from older, stale blood or from too many hours passing between showers. If you’re worried about the smell, the best thing to do is take a shower before sex or clean yourself first with some wipes or a wet towel. Also make sure, your period cup or disc is emptied and clean beforehand.
Guide to period sex
Alright, so you’re interested. Here are some tried-and-true period sex hacks you can explore. But remember, you’re the expert of your body. So if at any point you decide having sex while on your period isn’t for you – that’s cool too!
Throw a towel down.
This is the easiest, more obvious one, and a simple way to avoid getting your sheets all bloody. If you’re worried about ruining your towels, buy a towel or two that are black or a darker color that can be your designated period towels. Don’t be afraid to get messy!
Use a menstrual disc.
If you’d prefer to lessen the mess and have penetrative sex, you can use a menstrual disc. FLEX’S menstrual disc may be your ticket. A menstrual disc works similarly to a menstrual cup by covering the cervix and collecting blood. However, discs don’t block the vaginal canal, making it possible to have penetrative, mess-free period sex. Note, while these discs are designed so that you can keep ‘em up there while getting down, they are also a solid period product choice regardless if you are into penetrative sex while on your period. But they do not protect against STIs or pregnancy. We would suggest you experiment and see what feels good for you.
Oral sex or fingering.
Don’t fancy penetrative sex? Don’t be afraid of oral sex during your period! Many people are turned on by going down on their partners during their periods. You can incorporate penetration if you want or you can stick to clitoral stimulation, with or without your menstrual disc. If you decide to opt out of penetration, you can also keep a tampon in. Otherwise, some people even say being fingered with a menstrual cup in is especially enjoyable because of how it puts pressure on their G-spot.
Having sex in the shower can be a fun way to let all the juices flow without worrying about leaving a mess to clean up afterward. This can also be great for oral sex, since the water might help with any self-consciousness you might be feeling.
Duh! If you don’t have a sexual partner or would simply prefer not to have sex during your period (and you’re still in the mood), masturbation is always a great option. You can use a toy or keep it simple with your hand, and take the time to practice self-care and connect with your body, which is the perfect period activity.
Facts about period sex
While we’re here to normalize period sex, there are still some things to keep in mind about how it’s different—and the same—to non-period sex.
Yes, you can still get pregnant during your period—so use protection
Keep in mind, though the likelihood of getting pregnant on your period is lower, it is possible. Depending on your cycle length and when you ovulate during your cycle, your bleeding days and fertile window may overlap (learn more here!), so be aware and take the necessary precautions to protect yourself.
And you can also still get STIs
As always, you have to be aware of STI’s during period sex, particularly because blood is another bodily fluid that can serve as a medium for transmission. Be sure to use protection like condoms and/or dental dams when having sex during your period unless you and your partner are monogamous and have both been cleared for unprotected sex by a healthcare practitioner. This includes oral sex—it’s totally fine for menstrual blood to get in your mouth, so long as the menstruator has no STI’s or other infections.
You might find sex actually feels better while on your period. Say more?
During menstruation, there is increased blood circulation and the uterus expands due to the increase in blood when shedding the endometrium. The pelvis and vulva contain tons of nerve endings that are stimulated by the uterus expanding, which is why some people feel extra sensitive, and in turn, extra pleasure (1)! (Quick fun sex fact about period discs; some users find that menstrual discs increase pleasure and aid in stronger orgasms due to where they sit in the body. Nice right?!)
Benefits of period sex
That’s right, not only is it great because you get to have sex, but there are also some bonuses that come with doin’ it on your period, like:
Generally, your sex drive is the highest around ovulation but many people find this is true during menstruation, as well. This is due to a slight surge in testosterone, while progesterone is at its lowest, so if you’re feelin it, take advantage!
Cramp relief and stress reduction
Arousal increases blood circulation to the uterus and orgasm releases all sorts of feel-good chemicals like dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins, which help with pain tolerance. This also reduces cortisol so ya got yourself some natural stress-relief (2). Additionally, the intensity of cramps may lessen when you orgasm (3). Fun fact: the increase in circulation to the pelvic area also helps aid in the delivery of important nutrients and hormones that are otherwise impaired due to less activity and too much sitting (4).
Headaches and migraines are a common complaint of many people during menstruation and sex can help with that, too. In the same way that oxytocin and endorphins help with managing the pain of cramps, it can help with headaches, as well. (Heads up: In very rare cases, orgasms can actually cause headaches, so keep checking in with your body!)
That’s right! Did you know that having sex during your period can actually shorten the number of bleeding days? During your menstrual cycle, the uterus builds up a thick lining of endometrium to prepare for pregnancy. When no egg is fertilized, you get your period in order to shed the extra lining you don’t need, and that’s why we bleed. During an orgasm, the hormone oxytocin is released, and your uterus contracts. Stronger contracting of the uterus can help in the shedding of this endometrium and it can help speed the process along (5). Sign us up!
This one is pretty simple! Especially if you normally have a little less lubrication than you’d like, the blood from your period serves as a little extra natural lubrication, which is great for penetration. Come through, drip drip?
It's hot and fun
At the end of the day, the most important “benefit” is that it’s something you want to do and it makes you feel good. Sex should be fun and that’s no different just because you’re bleeding! And the best part is, you can decide what works best for you, whether it’s alone or with a partner.
So there ya have it! Period sex is totally normal and can be an exciting way to spice up your sex life and improve body literacy. How and what you do is totally up to you; it might be alone or with a partner, or with your period free flowing or using menstrual products like the FLEX disc or cup. Get comfortable touching your own body + flow, and find your own version of normal. If you’re in the mood during your period, don’t be afraid to express that to your partner or take some time to yourself + relieve stress! Most importantly, have fun exploring all the ways you can connect to your body and learn new ways to help yourself feel most in your power.
Written by Paige Green, IG @pagpaggy, NYC-based full-spectrum doula and health educator.
Medically reviewed by: Aisha Wagner, Family Physician with fellowships focusing on contraception and abortion advocacy.
All content found on this Website, including: text, images, audio, or other formats, was created for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
(1). Weiss, Suzannah. “The Real Reason You’re ~In The Mood~ During Your Period.” Bustle. June 12, 2019. https://www.bustle.com/p/the-real-reason-you-get-horny-during-your-period-68515.
(2). Vitti, Alisa. “Top 10 Health Benefits of Orgasm for Women.” Flo Living. February 07, 2017. https://www.floliving.com/top-10-health-benefits-of-orgasm-for-women/.
(3). Jardim, Nicole. “My Top 3 Fixes for Cramps.” Nicole Jardim. July 24, 2019. https://nicolejardim.com/my-top-3-fixes-for-cramps/.
(4). Brighten, Jolene, Dr. “Why Orgasms Are Good For Women How To Improve Your Libido.” Dr. Jolene Brighten. July 23, 2019. https://drbrighten.com/why-orgasms-are-good-for-women-how-to-improve-your-libido/.
(5). Dweck, Alyssa Dr. “5 Unexpected Things That Happen During Period Sex.” Bustle. June 12, 2019. Accessed August 10, 2019. https://www.bustle.com/articles/133000-5-unexpected-things-that-can-happen-during-period-sex.