7 things you need to know about period sex

Medically reviewed by Dr Juliet McGrattan (MBChB), words by Jenny L. Cook and Annie Hayes
·5-min read
Photo credit: Carol Yepes
Photo credit: Carol Yepes

From Netdoctor

While talking about menstruation is slowly becoming more socially acceptable, period sex remains a taboo subject that’s shrouded in mystery; dividing the masses and causing widespread confusion.

Period sex is nothing to be embarrassed about – indeed, it actually has its perks.

We caught up with the expert research team at female health app Clue, to find out the surprising health benefits of this little-talked-about subject:

What are the benefits of period sex?

Your sex life doesn’t have to take a backseat every time you’re on your period. Sure, it might take a little bit of cleaning up afterwards, but period sex brings its own unique advantages – from tackling premenstrual syndrome (PMS) to supercharging your libido:

1. Relief from cramps

If you suffer with PMS, sex is probably right at the bottom of things you feel like doing but, in reality, spending a bit of time between the sheets could actually provide some much-needed pain relief. ‘For some people, the endorphins released by orgasms can relieve menstrual cramps – this is based on the strength and intensity of the climax,’ the Clue team said. ‘Vaginal orgasms have substantial alleviating properties, much more than clitoral stimulation.’

2. Shorter period

Period sex is always going to be a bit of a messy affair, but you may notice more blood than expected even if your period is fairly light. The Clue team explain: ‘This is because sex increases the rate at which the uterine lining sheds. This can actually shorten the length of your period, and some women don’t see any blood for a day or two after period sex as a result.’

3. Increased sex drive

Studies have also shown that being on your period has no negative effect on sexual arousal. In fact, it might even boost your libido. ‘Some women will actually feel a little friskier during their period,’ the Clue team told us. ‘Oestrogen and testosterone levels are low on day one, but will start rising on day three. Many women claim to be more turned on and experience increased sensitivity around this time.’

Common period sex myths

Period sex isn’t for everyone, and that’s ok – but misinformation isn't. If you avoid getting it on for five days every month because you think it’s unhygienic or shameful, we’ve got some welcome news for you. Here, we correct four common misconceptions about period sex:

1. Period blood is unhygienic

This is little more than myth. ‘Some people are under the impression that period blood is impure and carries infections that could spread should it come into contact with the penis,’ Clue told us. ‘As you will have probably guessed, this is total nonsense. Menstrual blood is simply a mixture of healthy blood and tissues that the body no longer needs, so no harm will come from him getting a bit of blood on his penis.’

2. You can’t get pregnant

Although people with a regular 28-day cycle are less likely to ovulate around their period (and, in turn, less likely to get pregnant) that does not mean that you should skip protection. ‘Keep in mind that the fertile window can be highly unpredictable from person to person and cycle to cycle, and people with very short cycles may ovulate right after their period,’ Clue said. ‘There are many reported cases of ovulation happening close to menstruation and, because sperm can live up to seven days, it is actually possible to get pregnant during your period.’

Photo credit: Cavan Images
Photo credit: Cavan Images

3. You’re protected from STIs

Again, this is totally false. In fact, not only can you still catch an STI during your period, but you can also more easily transmit one to your partner if you’re infected, since viruses like HIV and hepatitis live in menstrual blood. Nothing protects against STDs better than a properly used condom, so be sure to have your partner wrap up every time.

4. No one else is doing it

Research has shown that about 30 per cent of sexually active people have sex while on their period. ‘Just because they do not talk about it does not mean that they are not doing it!,’ said Clue. ‘There are plenty of societal attitudes towards period sex, and these can affect arousal. If you ignore these biases and instead listen to your body, you may notice increased sex drive during menstruation.’

Tips on having sex during your period

A little preparation goes a long way during period sex. With our tips, you can take care of logistics ahead of time and make the most of your experience between the sheets:

  • Talk openly with your partner to make sure you’re both comfortable.

  • Remove your tampon before sex, or you made need medical assistance to retrieve it.

  • Use a dark-coloured towel to help save your sheets (or, have sex in the shower).

  • Stick to missionary and other laying-down positions to minimise blood flow.

  • Keep wet wipes by the bed for an easier clean-up.

  • Don’t be shy about using lube – tampons can be drying.

  • Have your partner wear a condom to protect against pregnancy and STIs.

For those who don’t mind some menstrual blood, having sex during your period can be an enjoyable experience. And if you don’t feel up for period sex? Well, there are plenty of other days in the month.

Last updated: 15-10-20

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