Let’s just put it out there, ladies (not to mention trans men, nonbinary and genderqueer people) — if you aren’t already having period sex, you’re probably wondering if you can. After all, your libido wants what it wants when it wants it, amirite? Maybe you’re on the first vacation you’ve taken sans kids in ages. Or you’re hanging at home when things start heating up so much that your Netflix and chill loses all chill. Hell, it might be a boring Tuesday after work but you’re feeling frisky. The point? Sometimes your libido won’t take no for an answer, period.
So, what’s the deal? Is period sex safe? How do you do it without your bedroom looking like a scene from The Shining? Lay your weary head to rest — we put together a handy guide to all things period-sex-related, including insight from a few experts. Here’s what you need to know.
Yes, you can definitely still get pregnant
As lovely as it would be to not have to worry about getting pregnant on your period, cruising the crimson tide won’t deter sperm. Granted, you are less likely to get pregnant if you have a typical 28 to 30 day or longer cycle. Still, it’s possible — especially if you happen to have a shorter cycle, say, 21 to 24 days long. Of course, your period won’t prevent sexually transmitted diseases either, so you should certainly practice safe sex during your period if you aren’t in a monogamous relationship (and/or don’t want to get pregnant).
It can take the edge off those killer cramps
Admittedly, it might seem counterintuitive to have sex when your ovaries feel like they’re in a vice grip, but getting it on could actually lessen your period pain. “Studies show that orgasms may be the key to curbing those menstrual cramps plaguing your period,” Adina Mahalli, certified women’s health specialist at Maple Holistics, told Scary Mommy. “Sex and orgasms, in particular, cause the muscles around the uterus to contract and release, which can alleviate some of the inflammation, pain, and cramps associated with menstruation.” Plus, sex can flood the body with feel-good chemicals like oxytocin and dopamine, which can further make you forget about any pesky period pain.
Your period might not last as long
Although this theory is still up for debate in the medical community, some gynecologists believe that having orgasms during your period can shorten it. The logic behind this idea lies in the muscle contractions that occur during the big O. Your uterus already contracts during your period in order to thin out the endometrium lining — so, it stands to reason that if you do something (ahem, climax) that increases the frequency of contractions, the lining will thin out more quickly.
Sure, the evidence is anecdotal, but it’s worth a shot. Just think of every orgasm as a tiny time machine!
No lube, no problem
If you ever deal with vaginal dryness (and who doesn’t sometimes?), you might like period sex way more than you imagined. “People enjoy sex during menstruation in general because sex always feels good, and specifically then because the extra wetness can help make for particularly fun slipperiness,” explained Laurel Steinberg, Ph.D. — Adjunct Professor of Psychology at Columbia University and Assistant Professor of Clinical Sexology at the American Academy of Clinical Sexologists. TL; DR: Having a built-in lubricant means you don’t have to bother with any bottled stuff.
There are ways to minimize messiness
Listen, period sex doesn’t have to make you feel like you landed in a crime scene. A little bit of planning goes a long way if you’re thinking about getting frisky when Flo is in town. Steinberg suggests having designated linens on standby, saying, “A good idea is to invest in a few large red bath towels and spread one out on the bed before getting down to business. When you’re done, toss them in the hamper, hop in the shower, and you’re good to go!”
If you don’t love the idea of later towel-drying your hair with your period-sex-terry-cloth (even after being washed), toss a sex blanket into your Amazon cart. Liberator makes a luxuriously velvety one that features a water-resistant core and comes in five colors.
Your horny meter might peg out
You might not feel super-sexy during your period but, at some point, chances are you will feel super-horny. Why? Well, your menstrual cycle involves a natural rise in hormones that affect your sex drive. In a 2013 study published in Hormones and Behavior, researchers found that increasing levels of estrogen during menstruation promote desire and ramp up libido. So, yeah, you may think of yourself as a gal who doesn’t get down with period sex — but your body probably has other plans.
You’ve got alternatives
You don’t have to quote-unquote “go all the way” when you’re on your period if it’s just not vibing for you. There are a few things you can do that don’t include penetration during menstruation. “You can focus on other erogenous zones that you wouldn’t otherwise explore if there was no period. If you wear tampons and are not engaging in intercourse that involves penetration, keep the tampon in and have oral sex. Or try dry humping, which may still create some form of fulfillment and orgasm,” Dr. Candice Cooper-Lovett, Ph.D., LMFT, Sex Therapist, told Scary Mommy.
If your partner wants to try oral sex without a tampon, menstrual cup, or other flow barriers, that’s okay too — as long as you both understand that an obvious danger of ingesting menstrual blood is contracting a disease or infection.
It’s totally natural (read: not gross)
Having sex on your period isn’t really any “grosser” than having any sort of sex. With sex, there will always be fluids exchanged. Messes will be made. But in the heat of the moment, odds are good that neither you nor your partner will even notice. “In my work, there have been couples where a partner complains about not having sex during a period. There are others who quite enjoy sex during their periods. It can also be enjoyable for couples because of the fact they feel they can say they’ve tried it,” Cooper-Lovett pointed out.
As is essentially always the case with healthy sexual relationships, though, communication is key. If possible, broach the subject with your partner before you get caught up in the heat of the moment. Even if they aren’t on the same page, you can always fly solo to reap the benefits of period sex.
Written by Julie Sprankles.