How to Have Period Sex If You're Feeling Curious But Cringe-y
Just sayin', you might really, really, really love it.
Period sex. Just putting those two words back-to-back is enough to start a heated debate. Some people are all for it, finding it deeply pleasurable and intimate. Then, there are people on the opposite end of the spectrum.
For those who don't mind some menstrual blood being part of their sexual romps, having sex during your period can be truly enjoyable. If you're wondering how to have sex during your period, try there are a few things you should know first.
1. It's going to be messy.
Let's get straight to the point: Period sex can be a mess. (Emphasis on can.)
"Depending on your flow at the time of the sexual encounter, the blood that's normally caught by your pad, tampon, or menstrual cup will still come out despite sexual activity," says Sheila Loanzon, M.D., a board-certified ob-gyn and author of Yes, I Have Herpes. "This can lead to messy sheets and clothing so it's important to be prepared for this."
Although there are a few ways to prepare for period sex, the first thing you want to do is make sure you and your partner don't proceed to go to town on those 500-thread count, white Egyptian cotton sheets. Or, if you're too lazy to pull the fancy sheets off the bed, then at least lay down some dark or old towels. If you find that you're super into period sex and it's something you want to make a part of your regular sexual repertoire, then you can invest in a blanket that's made specifically for period sex. (Your nice sheets will be so ever grateful.)
The fact is, as Dr. Loanzon points out, period sex and messiness just go hand-in-hand. While that messiness can vary, it's still something you need to keep in mind—it's also something your partner should keep in mind. Even if you're cool with the sight of blood, a squeamish partner might feel differently. (Related: This One Conversation Changed My Sex Life for the Better)
2. You should use a condom.
Even if you're in a committed relationship and you haven't used a condom with your partner in years, period sex should include a condom for one very important reason: Your cervix is more open so the endometrium (the layer that's shed during menstruation) can make its way out of your body. Because of this, your vagina is quite vulnerable to STIs and other types of infections. Unprotected period sex is also a breeding ground for blood-borne viruses. (Here are some STI symptoms to keep an eye on.)
"HIV and hepatitis are viruses that are blood born, thus they can be present in menstrual blood as well," says Dr. Loanzon. Basically, between the blood and the bodily fluids, if either you or your partner have HIV or hepatitis, you're almost doubling your chances to pass it or contract it. If you haven't been using a condom for a while, and either you or your partner have an STI, you've most likely already shared it; however, it's important to note that period sex does make you more susceptible than you would be during other times in your cycle.
Even if there's no chance of an STI being passed between you and your partner (because you've both been tested and are monogamous), you can still end up with a bacterial infection due to your cervix's opening. Research has found that the pH level of the vagina increases during menstruation, giving bacteria a chance to grow more rapidly. Meaning, having sex during your period can increase the chance that you'll end up with a vaginal infection of some sort.
3. You can absolutely get pregnant during period sex.
For far too long, a rumor circulated that you couldn't get pregnant during your period. Because of this, some people who used condoms as their only source of birth control would skip the latex and go bareback while their partner was menstruating.
Technically, if you break down a typical 28-day menstrual cycle—where ovulation happens 14 days before the period starts—it would seem that intercourse during their period is a safe zone since ovulation is when pregnancy is possible. However, the reality is that no cycle is exact. In fact, some cycles can be 28-days for months or even years, then suddenly go rogue.
"Women can have irregular periods and spotting at various times of the month," says Dr. Loanzon. For example, you can have spotting during ovulation, which you may confuse for a period. "Sperm also resides in the vaginal canal up to 72 hours (!!) after ejaculation, so it is important to consider contraception even during period sex."
So, yes, it is possible to get pregnant during your period.
"Unless you're on a reliable birth control method like contraceptive pills, patch, ring, Depo injection, Nexplanon rod, or IUD, the risk of pregnancy may still be possible if you have sex during your period," says Dr. Loanzon.
4. You might want to be picky about positions.
Depending on your and your partner's tolerance for blood, you may want to be a little picky about which sex positions you use during your period.
Missionary with your legs up and spooning sex positions both work well because they require little movement on your end, which can help limit how much blood joins the party. You can also make good use of blindfolds if one of you is squeamish and just can't bear to see the blood.
Naturally, shower sex is a great option, as long as you keep in mind that menstrual blood can be fairly slippery, adding to a situation that's already a bit precarious due to soap and water. Then, of course, if you want to avoid any possibility of blood, anal sex is also an intercourse position worth considering.
5. Your body needs to be tampon-free.
It's happened to the best of us: You start making out, the clothes are coming off, hands are sliding down here, fingers are going over there, and you're so turned on that you can actually feel your pulse in your vulva. In moments of such lust and arousal, it can be easy to forget certain things like, oh, I don't know—you still have a tampon in there. While one would hope either you or your partner's fingers will come across it before penetration with a penis or dildo, if that doesn't happen to be the case, you could have a bit of an issue on your hands (er, in your vagina).
"The vaginal canal can be deep and cavernous—it fits a baby's head during birth after all!— and if you forget a tampon is in place before having sex, it may be pushed up further in the canal, making it difficult to retrieve," says Dr. Loanzon. "Sometimes patients need to come to their ob-gyn or physician's office for assistance in removing it. While this doesn't bother your ob-gyn, it can be a source of embarrassment for the patient." (Related: 4 Deep Vaginal Erogenous Zones You Need to Check Out)
If you have sex and completely forget the tampon is in there, toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a possibility. But luckily, tampon manufacturers no longer make the superabsorbent tampons that were co-factors in TSS cases, so the risk is low. You also may eventually notice a foul-smelling discharge, alerting you that something is up (literally) and it's time to investigate.
6. It could be more intimate than you expect.
Although intimacy comes in all different forms, when you're looking at a partner who has your menstrual blood from their belly button down to their knees (and maybe even on their face too), the word "intimacy" takes on a whole new meaning. The first time you have period sex with anyone—whether they're a long-term partner or a one-night stand—you're stepping outside your comfort zone, and this tends to give people the opportunity to see and feel things differently. We live in a culture where periods are still taboo or "dirty" and usually aren't discussed. Although the stigma surrounding periods has decreased a bit in recent years, it's this stigma that can contribute to a person feeling extra vulnerable when they have their period, making period sex more intimate than it would be if this wasn't part of the equation.
7. There's a good chance you'll really like it.
The Flex company (which makes menstrual discs that can be worn during sex) conducted a survey of over 500 people about period sex, and found that 55 percent of participants regarded it as "natural or awesome." (Can we get a 'Hell yeah?!') Some people enjoy period sex so much that they actually become obsessed with it and actively seek it out. While you may not become that obsessed with period sex after you try it (or maybe you will!), once you get past the blood, accept the possibility it might destroy your $300-duvet if you're not careful, and let your mind and body really experience it, you may end up enjoying it a lot.
Why? Some people find their libido is extra high during their period due to the fluctuation in hormones, explains Dr. Loanzon. Specifically, testosterone levels begin to increase a couple of days into your period. Although often linked to male sexuality, research has found that women's adrenals produce testosterone and that's what really gives your sex drive its extra kick. Combine that with the natural lube (wetter is better, after all), the increased sensitivity of the genitals and pelvic region when you menstruate, and the positive effect orgasms have on cramps (it's like a natural painkiller!), and you really have something great.
Not to mention, there's an animalistic factor to it; a mentality that you and your partner aren't going to let some menstrual blood stand in the way of screwing each other's brains out. And, eventually, after a few rounds you just might wonder why the hell you ever let your period stand in the way of your desire to get laid in the first place.