Everything You Need to Know About Having Sex on Your Period and Your Cycle
on Dec 10, 2021
Sex doesn't have to stop just because your period starts.
Ahh, periods. For a lot of people, they have a love-hate relationship with that time of the month and fair enough! From cramps, hormonal acne and bloating, periods can make us feel pretty damn shoddy, which is why when the topic of period sex comes up you can get some very mixed reactions.
No matter what kind of relationship you’re in, if you experience a menstrual cycle the question of sex during your period has probably reared its head and often it gets a bit of a negative rap. Your period and hormones might seem like an unpredictable mystery at times, but it’s usually not what might be stopping you from partaking in period sex.
In this blog, we’re getting into sex and your cycle. The ebbs and flows (pun intended) of menstruation, ovulation and sex, and why you should dispel the myths and labels of period sex being ‘gross’ or ‘unhygienic’. Along with some top tips on what you can do to find pleasure throughout your cycle and how to have the best period sex possible so you can make the most of your menses.
Can you have sex on your period?
There are many myths out there that say period sex is gross, dirty or unsafe. But they’re simply not true! It’s okay to feel a bit squeamish or uncomfortable about sex during your period. After all, with the blood and those other pesky symptoms we spoke about before, sometimes it’s not really a winning combination for feeling sexy. Worrying about the mess can be a bit of a turn-off at times too.
However, perceptions of what happens when you have sex on your period (we’re very pleased to inform you) are far from reality. You’d be surprised at just how little cleanup is needed, and it can even help reduce cramps and boost your mood!
Most people actually aren’t fazed about running a red light and believe sex during periods is nothing to be concerned about. Forbes partnered with women’s health brand INTIMINA to research the population’s perspective of period sex. They found that out of 500 people aged 18-50, 82% of women have sex on their period. 58% of people enjoy it, and only 10% feel squeamish about it.
The fact of the matter is that having sex during your period can be a wonderful experience for both you and your partner. The most important thing is that you’re both open with each other about what you feel comfortable with and that you aren’t pressured into anything.
How to have great sex during your period
So, it’s week one of your cycle and you are menstruating like there is no tomorrow (or at least, that’s what it feels like sometimes). It's normal to let period pain get in the way of your play or to feel a bit self-conscious about period sex, but with a few simple tricks you’ll be able to relax and have fun. Here are some of our tips on how to have sex while on your period:
1. Start off with a toy
Your period is actually the perfect time to whip out the vibrator, whether you're having sex with a partner(s) or masturbating. This is because vibes are not just awesome sex toys, they're also a total heavyweight when it comes to taking on period pain. Sounds weird, I know, but vibrators can actually help to ease your cramps because the vibrations stimulate blood flow and oxygen to the genitals.
2. Incorporate a massage
While using vibrators in the bedroom definitely ranks at the top of our list of period sex priorities, if you don't own one yet, don't despair. The main goal here is to get the muscles to chill out, and sometimes nothing will relieve those cramps or make you feel as sexy as an intimate massage from your partner. Bonus points if you work in a calming massage oil to the mix.
3. Stimulate your other erogenous zones
When you’re on your period, you may experience heightened sensitivity in your erogenous zones (like your nipples), which makes this the perfect opportunity for all-over body play. Test the waters slowly when it comes to your nipples though - sometimes stimulation can be too much for them at this time. Save the nipple clamps for later in your cycle (or don’t - your call)!
4. Try it in the shower
This way, you'll be certain you won't make a mess of your sheets and you can instantly clean yourself off afterwards. Why not try turning the main lights off and using candles so you won't be thinking about the shower floor looking like the aftermath of Psycho.
5. If you want to have sex on a bed, put down a towel or an old sheet first so you don't have to worry about stains
Genuinely, though, you'll probably be surprised by how little blood - which is actually comprised of a cocktail of cervical mucus, endometrial tissue, and vaginal secretions as well as blood - actually leaks onto the sheets or towel, unless you're going at it for hours (you absolute champ). Just in case there is some spillage - remember, cold water is your best bet for removing blood stains.
6. Missionary and doggy-style position are your friends
These are great positions for period sex because they can reduce your flow. Plus, if you’re low on energy, they’re both excellent for letting your partner put in the work while you lie or kneel there. If there was ever time for lazy sex, it’s now.
What are the common myths about period sex?
Look up common myths about sex on your period and you’re likely to be bombarded with opinions and assumptions about the menstrual cycle, periods and the people who have them. Here’s what is true and what is far from it.
1. Blood! Blood everywhere!
Once again, it’s pretty unlikely it’ll look like the hallway scene from The Shining - it just won’t. That being said, if your period is on the heavier side, you might want to keep a closer eye on what’s going on down there when you get down.
2. You can’t get pregnant when on your period
Oh, baby, no. If your partner has a penis and you are participating in penetration, there is still a risk of getting pregnant when you are on your period. Admittedly, the chances are lower than at other points in your 28-day cycle (particularly during ovulation at around day 14). However, it is possible - especially when you consider the fact that sperm can live in the uterus for up to 7 days. If you are someone who has a shorter cycle (less than 28 days), then it’s important to be extra mindful of this if you are trying to avoid becoming pregnant. Use protection and make sure your contraception is up to date.
3. People don’t want to have sex when they’re on their period
It would be easy to assume the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (or PMS) in week 4 of your cycle would be enough to turn anyone off sex, but for many it is quite the opposite! Yes, there are tender tatas, bloating, headaches and cramps (when you get closer to your period) to deal with, but as your hormones shift, this is when you’ll find your libido at quite a nice high.
This is because your progesterone has finally dropped - sometimes known as the 'sedating hormone' - and your uterus is preparing to shed its lining once more (yep, again - it happens every month, sorry boo). This stimulates the nerve endings and blood flow to your genitals, which results in arousal.
4. You can’t transmit STIs during period sex
This is completely false. Sharing any kind of bodily fluids with a partner can cause STIs to be transmitted. The presence of menstrual blood can also increase the likelihood of transmitting blood-borne STIs like HIV. Wherever you are in your cycle, if you are unsure of your partner’s sexual history, it is always better to use a condom or dental dam to reduce the chance of any infections either partner could be carrying.
What are the benefits of sex on your period?
Not only is it okay to have sex on your period, but there are actually many benefits of getting intimate at that time of the month:
1. Increased sex drive and sensitivity
As we said before, your hormones fluctuate around the time of ovulation, which can lead to increased libido either before or during your period. Luckily, they are the same ones which bring out the sensitivity of all those gorgeous erogenous zones, meaning not only will your period sex be hella arousing, it will also more likely to lead to orgasm. You read right. Now go sail the red seas.
2. It's a natural lubricant
You can also thank your period for being a natural lubricant, making shower sex way less of a hassle than it usually is and lending a helping hand to keep things comfortable and friction-free. Basically, there’s no need for any extra lubrication. Just go with the flow, as they say…
3. It can relieve pain
Reaching the Big O while on your period can help with menstrual cramps and headaches.
A period is, in simple terms, the shedding of the uterus lining... which can bloody hurt (pun intended). In order to shed the lining of the uterus, the uterus muscles aggressively contract to compress the blood vessels lining your womb. While contracting muscles can be a source of pain in and of themselves, this process also prevents oxygen from reaching the uterus, which contains tissues that release chemicals that trigger pain when they are deprived of oxygen.
Blood flow to the area from stimulation via massage, vibrations and arousal alongside endorphins and the rush of oxytocin from orgasm are all things which will lend your aching uterus a helping hand. As for headaches, researchers say you have the rush of endorphins during climax, which can provide natural pain relief, to thank for that.
4. It's a mood booster
During week 4 and week 1 of your cycle when PMS and your period are in town, making yourself feel better in whatever way you can is a winner, but if you ask us, the gland finale is what will always come in first place. The release of endorphins (happy chemicals) an orgasm can bring from period sex and masturbation can relieve tension as well as improving your overall mood.
5. Shorter periods
Period sex can even potentially speed up your period - as in, literally shorten the amount of time you are bleeding for.
Well, the orgasm can.
You've probably noticed that your vagina contracts when you're climaxing - but so does your anal sphincter and your uterus. Which, as mentioned above, is exactly what happens when you're menstruating. The uterine lining can be expelled faster the more the muscles work to shed it - and who wouldn't volunteer for a shorter period? Plus, with orgasms strengthening your pelvic floor, you'll be increasing your resistance to the pains induced by contracting uterus muscles.
Is it bad to have sex on your period?
Nope! We’ve already covered a lot of the risks of sex during your period (which are really just the normal risks of sex and are all completely preventable FYI) in this blog, but there’s one more we thought it worth mentioning. It might seem obvious, but please remember to remove your tampon or menstrual cup before you get into any vaginal play. The last thing you want is to accidentally have it pushed up too high to be removed and potentially need a trip to the doctor’s office to resolve.
Other sexual things to do while on your period
Remember, there are other things to do sexually while on your period that don’t involve penetrative sex. If you’re more comfortable, you can wear a tampon or menstrual cup for mess-free foreplay and oral sex.
If penetrative vaginal sex is the main thing you think of when it comes to getting sexual, we would suggest seeing your period as an opportunity to try exploring the big wide world of sex further. There are heaps of things to do while on your period sexually which don’t involve the vagina. When you’re not in the mood, your flow might be too heavy, or you don’t want to deal with any potential stains. Here are a few ways to play on your period.
1. Take your party out the back
If anal play is a part of your sexual menu or you want it to be, now is an excellent time to dive in. Not only can you relax knowing you’re not spilling blood everywhere - while you take full advantage of your back door’s many nerve endings - wearing a menstrual cup can enhance the sensation by adding mild pressure to your internal hot spots. If you’re new to anal play, check out our guide here.
2. Oral sex
Same sitch, different downstairs area. For oral sex on your period, leave your chosen sanitary item inserted and let your partner go down on you, externally stimulating your clitoris, vulva and nipples. Try different positions or giving head to each other at the same time if you’re up for multi-tasking.
You could go without the tampon or cup, of course, but only go there if your partner is okay with potentially ending up looking like a thirsty vampire, if you know what we mean.
3. Go solo
Whether your partner faints at the sight of blood, you’re single or seeing a few people, sometimes taking the time to connect to your own sexuality and cycle is the best way to spend your period. Being able to give yourself pleasure exactly how and when you want it without worrying about the other person is a beautiful thing. Some people like to use this time in their cycle to ground themselves and practise self-care, and sometimes the best way to do so is on your own.
What about sex and the other weeks of your cycle?
You didn’t think we’d forget about it, did you? Now all the bloody details of week one are out of the way, here’s what goes down in your cycle every single month. You can thank our mates over at OHNE for this section!
Week Two, Part One: Time for a relaxed solo session
Post-period, oestrogen and testosterone start to rise again (all your sex hormones reach an all-time low right before your period hits). This gives you a renewed sense of energy and motivation in the few days following the end of your period.
No need to rush into the wild sexcapades though. Take your time and ease back into it with a chilled ménage-a-moi or some relaxed play with your partner. Think a slow build up of foreplay and sensual touching.
Note that an average period is usually between three and eight days long, so if your period is shorter than a full week (as are many people's) this stage will occur at the end of week one.
Week Two, Part Two: Time to go crazy
Okay, so ovulation is where the real fun happens. As we discussed earlier, ovulation occurs roughly in the middle of your cycle; if you have the average 28-day cycle, that'll be at around Day 14. Put simply, you can expect to be horny AF in the build up to, and day of ovulation.
Your sex hormones (oestrogen, testosterone, progesterone) are all spiking, and they all want to get you pregnant. You know, evolution and all that. Even if you have absolutely no intention of getting knocked up or having the kind of sex where that would be possible, you'll still feel the effects of this stage of your cycle.
With increased energy levels and mood at a high point, your hormones are totally wingman-ing you: boosting your confidence, making your face more symmetrical, and even clearing up your skin. Oestrogen increases blood flow to your genitals, which makes you feel turned on; progesterone helps strengthen your pelvic floor (see above for why that equals better orgasms); and testosterone increases sex drive.
This is the time to go out on hot dates, experiment with your partner, and shoot for the more ambitious positions and longer, wilder sex sessions. Your hormones have got your back.
Week Three: Time to cuddle
Feeling blue? Post-ovulation, which would be around week three in an average 28-day cycle, your sex drive will likely be at its lowest ebb of your whole menstrual cycle. With progesterone spiking and oestrogen and testosterone dipping, it's understandable that your mood begins to take a dive too. But, if you do feel like getting some action, sex (or variations thereof) is ready to help you out yet again. And this time you don't even need to make orgasming the goal.
During and after any type of physical contact, ranging from hand holding to sex, oxytocin and endorphins are released, which have both been found to reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.
If you're not feeling up to it, you don't have to go at it like bunnies to feel the effects of oxytocin and endorphins. Even hugging can cause a release of oxytocin, so the focus at this stage should be on physical intimacy, whether you are with a partner or on your own. Slow, sensual touching, massages and pamper sessions to make you feel good are all things which might help get you in the mood.
Sex could well give you the flood of good-vibes you're in need of during this week, but even if you want to keep it PG-13, you'll still benefit from the oxytocin release/endorphin rush of non-sexual touch and intimacy.