Period sex: pros, cons & pregnancy
Tips for having sex on your period, or not – depending on what tickles your fancy!
We all know taboos around periods are still widespread. The whole world and its mother wants to get their opinions all up in our uteri.
From legislation to opinion and myth, people have always been keen to tell us what we should and shouldn’t do when bleeding. In the past, these myths have ranged from the ludicrous to the slightly more complimentary: from thinking contact with menstrual blood would kill crops and make dogs go mad (thanks, Pliny the Elder)… to the suggestion that menstrual blood would cure leprosy (shout out to Hildegard of Bingen).
Stigma around period sex is something that still lingers. Some are simply grossed out by the idea of it, while others think it’s actively unclean or impure. But I think we can all agree, shame around period sex is ‘like, so last year’. As with all menstrual taboos, for that matter. So, join me while we delve into the realities of period sex, and let’s get real about doing the deed while you’re having your bleed!
Can you have sex on your period?
The very simple answer to this is yes, absolutely! As with any other sexual activity, this really comes down to whether both you and your sexual partner are up for it. If you are, then go right ahead. Anecdotally, despite there not being any evolutionary benefit to having sex on your period, a lot of people report feeling much more frisky at this time. If it’s something you’re keen to try, but you aren’t sure it will be your partner’s thing, then it’s always worth a conversation. Their response might surprise you!
There are still some societal and cultural stigmas that say having sex while on your period is harmful. But this isn’t true! Menstrual fluid consists of blood, vaginal and cervical fluid, and tissue shed from the lining of your womb. There is nothing intrinsically harmful in any of this, and it won’t be damaging to your partner. NB: Vaginal infections are something we’ll cover later on.
All that being said, you or your partner may simply not be up for it when you’re bleeding and that’s obviously fine too. All sex should be about mutual consent and what we feel comfortable with. So, if period sex isn’t your thing, just skip it.
If you’re unsure about having penetrative sex while on your period, but still have an itch that needs to be scratched, remember sex isn’t all about penetration! Your partner can use their fingers, you can have oral sex, or you could just enjoy some alone time and masturbate. Are you worried about your partner coming into contact with your period blood? If yes, then non-penetrative sex has the added benefit that you should be able to leave any internal period protection inside while you’re getting amorous.
Potential pros of period sex
It can be normal for your genitals to become slightly more swollen and sensitive during your period. Increased levels of the hormone progesterone is the cause of this. For some people, this increased sensitivity will mean they feel more aroused or may experience more intense orgasms during their period.
Relief from period pain
When you reach orgasm, your brain releases chemicals such as dopamine, oxytocin and serotonin. There is some evidence suggesting that this can actually relieve period pain. Combine this with the general feeling of well being and relaxation that most people feel after climaxing, period sex = a win-win!
One of the biggest bonuses to period sex is that menstrual fluid acts as a natural lubricant! If you use tampons you may not feel the effect of this natural benefit as much, because they absorb not only your period blood but also 35% of your normal vaginal moisture. So, you might want to opt for some lubricant, such as the YES® WB lube.
If you use Mooncup menstrual cup, your natural lubricant will still be there and working in your favour, as the Mooncup collects rather than absorbs your menstrual flow.
Anecdotally, people report that orgasming during period sex can actually make your periods shorter too. While there isn’t currently any scientific evidence around this, the theory is that the release of oxytocin when you orgasm causes your uterine muscles to contract. This contraction can push your period blood out more quickly. Oxytocin, also known as ‘the love hormone’, is the one that causes contractions during childbirth, so this theory isn’t so far-fetched!
Potential cons of period sex
Increased sensitivity (it can be both a blessing and a curse!)
As above, some people can find their genitals become more swollen and sensitive during their period, and this is totally normal. However, while some may find this increased sensitivity makes sex more fun, for others it might make period sex the absolute last thing on their mind. Equally, you might find you feel differently from period to period or even day to day. The key thing is to let what you are feeling in the moment guide you. If you don’t want to be touched, then don’t be.
It’s common for the position of your cervix to change across the course of a menstrual cycle. It usually sits at its lowest on the first few days of a period. Some people find cervical contact during sex really pleasurable. However, a lot of people can also find their cervix being touched or bumped during penetrative sex very uncomfortable. If your cervix is sitting lower during your period, then it’s more likely to be touched during penetrative sex than it normally would be. If this is an issue for you, changing positions may improve things. But if it’s a complete no-go, then remember you can always indulge in some non-penetrative fun.
This is probably most people’s biggest concern when it comes to period sex. What about my sheets? Won’t it look like the scene from Carrie?
In truth, the amount of blood and fluid most people lose during their period isn’t significant. So, the room isn’t going to be a complete blood bath! Equally, most of us will have had an incident where our period blood has leaked onto clothes or sheets. And that’s without the added action of sex! We know it can spread and make a mess, so this is a valid concern.
If mess during period sex is a worry for you or your partner, then there are also simple things you can do to manage this. The most basic solution is to put an old towel down on the bed underneath you. This won’t stop you both from seeing your menstrual blood, but it will save your sheets. You could also choose to take your romance to the bath or shower where you can ‘contain’ the mess. It will also be easier to clean up afterwards. As mentioned above, if the mess aspect really puts you off, you can also indulge in some non-penetrative sex. You can then leave an internal period product in place during.
Can you get pregnant when you’re on your period?
Again, the simple answer to this is yes, you can get pregnant when on your period…. If you have unprotected sex during your period, then this could result in a pregnancy. Although it is much less likely at this point than during the rest of your cycle. Sperm can survive in the vagina for up to seven days. So, if you have unprotected sex on or around your period, and then ovulate earlier than usual, you might still get pregnant. This can happen too if you naturally have a short or irregular menstrual cycle. If you don’t want to be pregnant, then as always, the key thing is to use contraception when having sex.
Can sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) be passed on during period sex?
The answer to this is again, yes. In fact, there is some suggestion that you might even be more likely to contract an STI from an infected partner while having sex on your period. As ever, this means it’s advisable to use a condom if you’re having sex with an untested or new partner during your period. Even if you’re using another form of contraception to prevent pregnancy! Also, remember that you can contract STI’s from vaginal, anal and oral sex, so it’s important to use protection for all of them. Additionally, if you do decide to have period sex in the bath or shower, bear in mind that condoms may also be less effective or more likely to slip off if used underwater.
Can I wear my Mooncup when having penetrative period sex?
Alas the answer is no. As with tampons, the Mooncup is not designed to be left in during penetrative sex. Among other things, leaving the Mooncup in during sex may cause it to be pushed higher in the vagina, making it tricky to remove. It would also be likely to cause your partner some serious discomfort when coming into contact with the cup! So, for many reasons, we do not recommend doing this.
If period sex just isn’t your bag, then that’s absolutely fine. Sex is meant to be about choice and pleasure. If you find the idea of sex during your period a massive turn off, and all you want is to be left alone and not touched, then that’s all you need to know. Find some space for yourself and do something else that brings you pleasure.
But if you’re keen to get amorous during your period, then it’s clear that there are multiple ways you can. Be that via a willing partner, or finding some time alone to masturbate. The benefits of period sex speak for themselves and if it’s something that you’re up for then there is nothing to be ashamed of! Sex is always a messy affair and being on your period just adds to this – so go forth and orgasm!
The Mooncup® has proven, for many, to be a great way to own your period and your menstrual cycle as a whole. Find out more and get yours here.
You can now also buy YES® WB personal lubricant on our online shop. FREE delivery if bought with the Mooncup! Find out more and buy yours here.
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Also on the Mooncup blog:
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Why are we afraid of blood?
How to choose the best menstrual cup for you?
How to hack your cycle and own your period superpower
The colour of your period: what does it mean?
Period tracker apps: when technology met menstruation
Love letter to my period
How to manage heavy periods
How to manage PMS naturally?
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