Having Sex During Your Period

Period Sex: Why It Is a Good Thing

Dr. Jolene BrightenPublished: Last Reviewed: Menstrual Cycle, Sex Hormones, Sexual Health Leave a Comment

It may not be discussed very often, but period sex is a good thing. Two topics that have been taboo in many cultures—menstruation and sex—are perfectly normal parts of life, so I want to open up the conversation.

Sex during period is happening, whether or not we talk about it, and I know many of you have questions or at least, most of my patients do. Aside from the benefit of intimacy with your partner, period sex can be fun and have other pluses for your health and well-being.

In this article, I’ll share all you need to know, including the myths, the benefits, and how you can have more period sex if it’s something you want to explore.

Can You Have Sex on Your Period?

The short answer is yes, you can absolutely have sex on your period. There’s nothing scary about menstrual blood, and it’s just as safe for you and your partner to get it on when you are bleeding as it is when you aren’t.

Like anything with sex, whether you choose to have sex while on your period depends on personal preference. If you want to do it and you and your partner are on board, go for it! But it’s also okay if you’re not feeling it. Just know that it isn’t dangerous for your body as many of us have been told.

Sure, it can be a bit messier than sex during other times of the month, but if you plan ahead by putting down towels on the bed (or wherever you have sex), it doesn’t have to be very different. And, of course, practicing safe sex by using a condom continues to be essential, especially since you are at a slightly higher risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) (I’ll go into this below).

Benefits of Period Sex

I alluded to the fact that period sex has benefits beyond sexual pleasure, and there are a few! Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why period sex can help you feel better during your period.

Period Sex May Help Relieve Menstrual Cramps

If you have cramps, sex may not be the first thing on your mind, but it could actually help you feel better. Cramps happen when prostaglandins (compounds involved in pain and inflammation) trigger uterine contractions to shed the lining that builds up throughout your menstrual cycle. 

But here’s the good news: orgasms could help reduce the pain associated with menstrual cramps. Orgasms cause a contraction in the same group of uterine muscles that squeeze and cramp during your period, with a subsequent release that can relieve muscle tension. 

Plus, orgasms release endorphins and oxytocin, feel-good chemicals that support your mood and well-being. They also support a healthy stress response, make us feel more connected to our partners, and reduce pain.

If having sex on your period isn’t in your comfort zone or you don’t currently have a partner, masturbation that ends in orgasm can also help relieve pain in the same way.

Period Sex Provides Natural Lubrication

If lube is a part of your sex routine, keep it on hand with period sex. Menstrual blood can act as a natural lubricant, making sex easier and more pleasurable to get started, but it can become dry during a longer session. Having lube on hand is always a good call. 

@drjolenebrighten If someone is making you feel something is wrong with you that’s a good sign they don’t understand the body. #normalizenormalbodies #learnontiktok #isthisnormal #iwastodayyearsold #downtherecare #downthereselfcare ♬ original sound – Dr. Jolene Brighten

Period Sex Could Shorten How Many Days You Bleed

Your period lasts as long as it takes to shed the uterine lining (if you want to learn more details about how this all works, I wrote an article about all the menstrual cycle phases), but period sex could help decrease the length.

In the same way that orgasms could help cramps by stimulating uterine muscle contractions, climaxing could also speed up the shedding process. There’s no real scientific data on this benefit, but anecdotally people report this as a positive to period sex, so it may be worth trying and tracking what’s true for you. 

Having Sex On Your Period Can Be More Enjoyable

Libido and interest in sex are connected to your hormones. As your hormones shift during your period, you may find yourself feeling more aroused than usual. This can be, in part, due to the dip in progesterone. 

Right before you get your period and on day one, hormones that stimulate sex drive are low, but they start to rise by day three, increasing libido for some people. Hormones can vary between people, so it’s totally normal if you don’t feel more aroused during your period. 

Is Period Sex Bad?

Nope, period sex is not bad for you or your partner. There are a few factors to consider, but none of these are deal-breakers:

  • Period sex can be messy. You may not be able to be as spontaneous with period sex. You probably won’t want to get busy on your favorite sheets or the couch unless you make sure to cover them first.
  • Sex during your period could smell different. Menstrual blood has a distinct smell that you may or may not notice. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it could catch you off-guard if you’re not expecting it.
  • Some positions can be better than others. Depending on where you are on your cycle and how comfortable you are with the potential mess, certain positions may require more clean-up if your flow is heavy.

Is it Safe to Have Period Sex?

Period sex is safe, but as always, it’s highly important to protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Because of the increased bodily fluid from your period, there is a slightly higher risk of STIs than you would have at other times of the month. Menstrual blood also shifts the pH of the normally acidic vagina, increasing susceptibility to STIs or other vaginal infections. 

Also, if you use tampons, you have a slight chance of developing microscopic tears in the lining of the vagina, which could increase the risk. Condoms or dental dams can help keep you safe.

Can You Get Pregnant if You Have Sex on Your Period?

If your cycle is regular, it’s less likely you’ll get pregnant on your period, but it can happen! Ovulation typically occurs mid-cycle for many people, but ovulation could occur towards the end of the menstrual cycles or soon after for people with shorter menstrual cycles. If this happens and you have unprotected sex, conception can occur, especially since sperm can live up to five days in your reproductive tract. 

Unless you want to get pregnant, the best thing to do is to use protection to avoid pregnancy and STIs.

@drjolenebrighten Periods rarely happen without you releasing an egg first. #pregnancytiktok #pregnancytest #latinxcreatives #pregnancyprevention #birthcontrol #birthcontrol #birthcontrolcheck #fam #fertilityawarenessmethod #hormones #hormonas #bodyliteracy #themoreyouknow #learnontiktok #bestie #familytime #selflove #knowledge #selflove ♬ abcdefu – GAYLE

How to Have Period Sex

Now you know period sex is safe and normal, so let’s cover a few tips to make period sex enjoyable and fun.

  • Talk with your partner. Communication is key (this goes for anything related to sex). Make sure you are both on the same page with comfort levels.
  • Consider your flow. If you know you have a heavier flow earlier or in the middle of your cyles, maybe you want to decide to wait until then to have sex. But if you are comfortable regardless of flow, then go for it.
  • Remove menstrual products. This one may seem obvious, but it’s easy to forget! Take out your tampon or menstrual cup before having sex, as it can be uncomfortable and potentially unsafe if it gets pushed up too far. Some specialized products, like the flexible menstrual disc, are designed for use during sex and may be left in place.
  • Set up your space. If you have sex on the bed, put down towels first and consider having wipes nearby. Shower sex is also a good option if you want to avoid the need for extra clean-up altogether.
  • Remember STI protection. Use a condom if sexually transmitted infections are a possibility.
  • Experiment with positions. You may find you are more sensitive during certain times of your period or find that certain positions feel more comfortable than others. Find what is most enjoyable and comfortable for you.

Is it Okay to Have Oral Sex During Your Period?

Just as with vaginal penetration, oral sex during your period can be safe and really depends on you and your partner’s comfort level. If oral sex is something you enjoy, there’s no reason to stop. Using a dental dam can reduce exposure to STIs.

STIs via oral sex are still possible, and with menstrual blood, there may be a slightly increased risk because of the added body fluids. If you prefer oral sex to penetration, you could consider keeping a tampon or menstrual cup in to minimize exposure (but take them out if you end up having vaginal sex).

There’s No Reason to Stop Having Sex During Your Period

As long as you feel comfortable, sex during period is a good thing. It can bring you closer to your partner, relieve menstrual cramps, may shorten your period, and even make sex more enjoyable.

Using protection is still essential to avoid STIs and pregnancy but practicing safe sex matters all month, not just during your period.

If the idea of period sex interests you but isn’t appealing because you feel miserable during your period, I’ve created my Period Problems Kit to help you get your hormones rebalanced.

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References

  1. Ferries-Rowe E, Corey E, Archer JS. Primary Dysmenorrhea: Diagnosis and Therapy.. Obstet Gynecol. 2020. 136(5). 1047-1058.
  2. Legros JJ. Inhibitory effect of oxytocin on corticotrope function in humans: are vasopressin and oxytocin ying-yang neurohormones. Psychoneuroendocrinology.. 2001. 26(7). 649-655.
  3. Lurie S. Does intercourse during menses increase the risk for sexually transmitted disease. Arch Gynecol Obstet. 2010. 282(6). 627-631.
  4. Wagner G, Ottesen B. Vaginal physiology during menstruation. Ann Intern Med. 1982. 96(6 PT 2). 921-923.
About The Author

Dr. Jolene Brighten

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Dr. Jolene Brighten, NMD, is a women’s hormone expert and prominent leader in women’s medicine. As a licensed naturopathic physician who is board certified in naturopathic endocrinology, she takes an integrative approach in her clinical practice. A fierce patient advocate and completely dedicated to uncovering the root cause of hormonal imbalances, Dr. Brighten empowers women worldwide to take control of their health and their hormones. She is the best selling author of Beyond the Pill and Healing Your Body Naturally After Childbirth. Dr. Brighten is an international speaker, clinical educator, medical advisor within the tech community, and considered a leading authority on women’s health. She is a member of the MindBodyGreen Collective and a faculty member for the American Academy of Anti Aging Medicine. Her work has been featured in the New York Post, Forbes, Cosmopolitan, Huffington Post, Bustle, The Guardian, Sports Illustrated, Elle, and ABC News. Read more about me here.