Period sex. This one always stirs up a lot of opinions! It is rarely a topic of conversation, yet most of us would secretly like it to be. Is it okay? Will there be lots of blood? Will it reduce my cramps, can I get pregnant?
So let us debunk some of the most common myths around having sex when you are menstruating. First and most importantly, it’s a personal decision, one that might change depending on the relationship you are in.
It might be a flat-out ‘no, thank you’ for some or the commonly reported ‘who cares, this is when my sex drive is highest’ for others. Apart from the psychology behind if you care about the blood, there are also several big factors that can help you decide if period sex is right for you. So, let’s debunk some of the most common
Period Sex Myth #1: You’ll bleed everywhere
When puberty comes knocking, the body and mind shift gears in readiness for a big transformation. Dr Ashwini Gana Baskar, principal GP at Sanctuary Wellness & Medical Centre, explains that "lots of cognitive changes happen during this time, linked to hormonal secretion and sexual function."
Thanks to this whirlwind of change, you might notice your emotions and reactions are different to usual. "You might feel angry or sad when things happen because you're trying to form your own identity," she says.
Will you bleed everywhere during period sex? The answer is maybe, but that depends on your body. The heaviness of your flow is a determinant. If you are a heavy bleeder, or it's day one of your menstrual cycle then the amount of blood on the bed might bother you (or not). For others, this is when sex is best as the blood helps as a natural lubricant, and it allows you to ditch the lube.
I think the important issue here is partner communication. Most of us fear their reaction at the idea, but if you openly discuss it and you’re both open to it, then go for it. If you’re not ready to dive right in, there are also good in-between options like using towel or having sex in the shower.
Period Sex Myth #2: Period sex is painful
Mood swings: One minute, you're on top of the world. Next, you're Another factor in period sex is the pain. For some people, the positive endorphins released from an orgasm can help reduce pain associated with period cramps. However, for others with chronic pelvic pain from such issues as endometriosis, the pain can be worse during menstruation.
Another consideration is the type of period product you use. Tampons can lead to dryness and pain if removed right before sex, whereas Modibodi underwear naturally avoids this issue. The main takeaway? If it feels good, go for it.
Period Sex Myth #3: Sex will "trigger" your period or make it heavier
Will sex trigger your period? This one is just a no... because only hormones trigger your period. If you’re noticing your period comes on after sex, it could be a timing coincidence and your period was due. That has happened to me a few times. But sex itself is not going to trigger your cycle.
In fact, if you notice bleeding after sex (called ‘post-coital’ bleeding) please see your doctor. It might just be related to vaginal dryness, but it can sometimes be a sign of a problem with your cervix or uterus. Best to get it checked!
Period Sex Myth #4: Period pain and bleeding will affect your libido
Remember: everyone is different. Anecdotally, many of my friends and patients have reported the opposite and an increase in desire even while experiencing period pain and bleeding. My best friend and I talk about many taboo topics, and she says her drive is ravenous during her period.
Most sexual health experts agree that throughout the menstrual cycle, your sex drive is influenced by a balance between estrogen and progesterone hormones. When they are at their peak, often your desire is too. Interestingly this is often around ovulation, perhaps the human species' way of making us biologically want to reproduce.
During ovulation your oxytocin peaks too, which is the ‘love hormone’ kicking in. In the pre-menstrual phase (i.e. right before you bleed) those hormones drop, and many people report lower sex drive. This could also be related to low moods, cramps, increased anxiety, and fatigue, which logically might turn you off sex.
What about oral sex?
Again, this is very personal and depends on your flow and your relationship. As long as you are both happy, there is certainly nothing medically wrong with oral sex during your period. Please do keep in mind though that there is a higher risk of sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) during menstruation as there is blood and body fluids involved.
Period Sex Myth #5: You can’t get pregnant during your period
Oh yes you can get pregnant during your period (and I did) but it is quite uncommon. Remember: sperm can survive for 5 days inside your uterus, waiting for you to ovulate. Let’s do some period sex maths.
If you have sex on the last few days of your cycle (day 5-6), the sperm lasts 5 days (that’s 10 days total) and that month you ovulate early (which happens) you could fall pregnant. This is more common for women with irregular cycles or short cycles <24 days.
If you don’t want to get pregnant, please still wear a condom or use other forms of contraception during your period. Just like with oral sex too, there is still a very real chance of STI transmission on your period so it’s a good idea to protect yourself and your partner.
Period Sex: the verdict
So, there you have it! When it comes to period sex, it's all about individual choices. Keep the conversation open with your partner and always prioritise your comfort and safety. Sexual health is part of our overall well-being, so find what works for you and your relationship.