Can You Have Sex on Your Period?
Period sex tends to be a hot topic. There are those who love it and can't get enough of it, then there's the opposing group who cringes at merely the thought of it. While period sex probably isn't something you want to engage in if you're not a fan of blood (although it's far less bloody than one might think), the fact remains that, yes, you can absolutely, positively have sex on your period — and it can be great!
What are the pros and cons of period sex?
Like most things in life, period sex has its pros and cons. As much as it's beneficial in some regards, it's not without some issues that one should take into consideration before having period sex — issues that extend past just the blood factor.
One of the biggest pros of period sex is the natural lubrication that comes with it. While it might be easy to assume that this lubrication is just blood, that's not entirely the case. According to a 2020 study published in Informed Health, on average, about 2.7 ounces (60 milliliters or one cold medicine measuring cup) of blood is lost during one period and only a fraction of that is lost during period sex. For the most part, that natural lubrication is made up of vaginal secretions, disintegrated endometrial tissue, cervical mucus, and of course, the unfertilized egg. All of these together make for a fantastic natural lubrication.
Pain relief and health benefits.
When we orgasm from intercourse or other types of sex, we're tapping into the body's natural pain-killing system: endorphins. For people who suffer from cramps or headaches, period sex can offer relief, at least momentarily. A 2017 study published in The Journal of Headache and Pain found that 50% of people who are prone to migraines get a migraine attack during menstruation and a 2013 study by the International Headache Society found that 70% of those who had sex while having a migraine reported "moderate to complete relief." But that's not all.
If you've ever found yourself experiencing symptoms that are cold- or flu-like during your period, you're not alone. A 2018 study published in The Autoimmune Journal found that both before and during your period the changes in progesterone and estrogen levels lower your immune system. However, a 2021 study published in Elsevier found that sex strengthens the immune system because of increased levels of antibodies. Thanks to sex, immune systems are strengthened so much so that people who have sex more than three times a month have lower rates of infection and disease. A healthy body sleeps better, functions better, is less stressed (sex decreases cortisol, after all), and is overall more balanced, physically and mentally.
When you orgasm your uterus and vaginal muscles contract. When you have your period, each contraction aids in the shredding of the uterine lining, which could shorten periods for some. Granted, we're not talking about taking a seven-day-long period cut down to two days, but period sex could shave off a day or so.
Increased sex drive.
While there's no debating that ovulation has an effect on libido for all those evolutionary reasons, a 2003 study by the Association of Reproduction Health Professionals found that 62% of people reported their sex drive being their highest during menstruation. There are two reasons for this. First of all, during our period testosterone levels get a little kick which can lead to that horniness. There's also the fact that when we're menstruating there's increased blood flow toward the genitals. When we're aroused, our genitals become engorged with blood so it only makes sense that this would make some feel sexy and in the mood to get it on.
You can get pregnant.
Although we could stay up for days trying to figure out how the rumor got started... let's just get to the point: YES, YOU CAN GET PREGNANT DURING YOUR PERIOD. Just because you're menstruating, it doesn't mean you get some sort of pass on not being fertile. The reason for this is very simple: ovulation cycles vary across the board. If everyone had a 28-day menstrual cycle, we'd be able to pinpoint exactly when people can get pregnant. But because that's not the case, it's best to continue using your preferred form of birth control during period sex, which in this case should be condoms and brings us to...
Increased risk of STIs and infections.
During menstruation, the cervix is open, making it vulnerable to STIs and infections. You don't only run the risk of transmitting or contracting blood-borne STIs like hepatitis, HIV, and syphilis, but all other STIs become a higher risk as well. Although having an STI shouldn't be a source of shame, it can be an inconvenience and, if they go undetected for too long, can cause problems like infertility. According to a 2023 report by the Center for Disease Control, we're currently in the middle of an STI epidemic, with cases skyrocketing among all STIs. This is something to seriously consider every time you have vaginal, anal, or oral sex, no matter if any of the partners are menstruating or not.
With the cervix open and ready to party, the risk of infections like UTIs and bacterial vaginosis (BV) also increases. That's why when it comes to period sex, even if you're fluid-bonded with your partner, condom use is always a good idea. There's no sense in inviting a bacterial infection into your vagina when it could have been prevented with a condom.
It can be messy.
If you're going to have period sex, then you need to accept that blood is part of the equation. While you may be able to avoid it if your period just started or is ending, if you have sex smack dab in the middle of menstruation then there will be blood. It's just a fact. Blood isn't just messy, but it can also have a pungent, metallic smell to it. Some people are cool with this smell, while others are not. This is where you need to decide if the mess and the smell are something you want or something you don't.
Period sex isn't for the squeamish and that's OK! But one of the cool things that can come out of period sex is that it can create intimacy with your partner because you're both being exposed to a bodily fluid that's still considered taboo. It's also an opportunity to gain a deeper appreciation for your body and all its beauty. So, technically, this is a con that can easily be turned into a pro with the right mindset.
Period Sex Tips for Beginners
Know what you're getting into.
If you're going to have period sex with your partner, you definitely want to talk about it first. If you have concerns, fears, expectations — anything at all — share them, then let your partner voice their thoughts too. Period sex can be an extremely vulnerable time for both partners, so you want to make sure the lines of communication are wide open.
If you're not having sex with someone else and it's all about some proper alone time, then have yourself an inner dialogue if you need to. If you're OK with masturbating when you're menstruating, then just go for it!
Choose the right sheets.
No matter where you're to have period sex, you want to be wary of just how much blood can stain. Because of this, you definitely don't want to do it in your favorite white sheets, on a light-colored couch, or on a carpeted floor for that matter without a towel or an easily washable sheet. Vinyl sheets, for example, are a great option for period sex.
Be prepared to clean throughout.
Although there's no guarantee that there will be a lot of blood, you still want to prepare for a lot of blood! That means having wipes nearby or, at the very least paper towels and a water spray bottle. Menstrual cups will help limit the amount of blood and condoms, in addition to providing their infection protection, can also keep the blood from completely going all over the place.
Have shower sex.
When it comes to period sex, showers are the best spot for it — from a minimal mess standpoint. Also, unlike shower sex when there's no menstruating, you don't need to use lube thanks to all that wonderful natural lubrication.
Top 3 Sex Positions for Period Sex
When it comes to sex positions when you have your period, you want to keep gravity in mind. If you want to limit the amount of blood that's involved, then you should choose positions where the menstruating person isn't doing all the work. For example, if they're on top or standing, there's going to be more blood than if you opted for laying down positions.
Missionary (with the menstruating person on the bottom) is perfect for period sex. You're not only limiting possible messes, but you also get to make eye contact to up the intimacy factor that period sex can induce.
Let's be honest: the spooning position is always a good idea. But make makes it extra good during period sex is that if you're suffering from cramps or other aches and pains, there's something unbelievably cozy about being spooned while being penetrated. It's also a great position for cockwarming and will keep the blood to a minimum.
3. Doggy style.
Although the menstruating partner is on all fours, their body is still horizontal as opposed to vertical, so it will help lessen the amount of blood involved. Because this position allows for deep penetration, it's a good way to distract yourself if you're having really bad cramps — until the orgasm hits and you're screaming out in pleasure for more than one reason.
Period Sex FAQs Answered
Do most couples have period sex?
As much as there's a taboo surrounding period sex and menstruating in general, a lot of people indulge in period sex. A 2020 survey found that 82% of women have sex on their period, 58% really enjoy it, and only 10% think it's nasty. A 2016 survey found that 83.7% of people have had period sex and 44.9% think it's natural and normal. Takeaway? The majority of people are having period sex and many are loving it.
Can you have oral sex while on your period?
Absolutely! You can either dive in and go for it, or if the blood factor makes you woozy, a dental dam can remove blood from the equation (although the metallic smell might still be there) or a vaginal sponge can be inserted to absorb the blood while the oral is happening.
Ultimately, what it comes down to is yes, a resounding YES, you can have sex — in all its forms — on your period. As long as both partners know what they're getting into and it's consensual, there's no reason not to have period sex.