Period Sex 101
The idea of having period sex can be bloody intimidating. But why?
Menstrual Educator, Jane Bennett and Sexologist, Lauren French agree that it comes back to the age-old stigmas that surround having a period.
“It's just part of the pervasive ancient, menstrual taboo that has coloured so many things. And still does today,” Jane said.
Lauren echoed this idea, explaining that we’ve internalised negative connotations surrounding our period that hold us back from doing the deed, while we bleed.
“Basically, because we find periods shameful, the idea of having sex on our period, we're always going to find shameful as well,” Lauren added.
Unfortunately, both periods and sex have historically been shrouded in hush-hush taboos, but in reality, there’s so much that could be enjoyed if we only opened ourselves up to the idea of having period sex.
Hey, some of us are even at our horniest when we’re menstruating, so why miss out during prime time?
If period sex is something you’ve been pondering, read on for our comprehensive guide brimming with expert tips on how to navigate having sex on your period.
What’s the deal with the blood?
Lauren clarified that although, yes, there will indeed be blood, having sex on your period, is probably not going to be as messy as you may think.
“It's not a tap. It's not a hose. Blood isn't going to be like pouring out onto your whole body. It isn't a scene from a horror movie,” she said.
“Yes, of course, blood is going to be involved if you're having period sex. But blood isn't actually the big thing that I think everyone thinks it is during period sex.”
Lauren added that sex can usually be messy anyway (think sweat, fluids etc), so considering the blood as just another little element to add into the mix might help ease up any anxiety you have around the blood. No big deal!
In saying that, if you think you’d prefer to have sex on your period sans the blood, Jane suggested popping in a diaphragm or a menstrual cup, though the tip of the latter would be a problem for penetrative sex.
“If that is [your] preferred aesthetic, and you don’t want the blood, you can choose to just keep stop the flow for a little while,” she said.
Are there any benefits that come from period sex?
Not to be dramatic, but orgasms are magic. And for the most part, Jane and Lauren agree that orgasms can absolutely alleviate menstrual cramping.
“If you're having uterine cramps on your period, and then you've got muscles contracting and releasing with an orgasm, that can be helpful,” Lauren said.
What’s more, Jane explained that having sex on your period can also help with menstrual mood swings.
“It's great for the mood… and if it's good sex and a good relationship, that sense of intimacy and closeness can be wonderful… especially if you’re feeling kind of vulnerable or a bit low, it's a nice time to experience a gentle, loving intimacy,” Jane said.
“I know, for some couples, because of the nature of how the [menstruator] feels emotionally during their period… it might be a time where the period sex is gentle, but emotionally much more intimate. So, that can be its own blissful high!”
A fun tidbit; Jane also said that when you’re menstruating the vulva is swollen, relative to other times, and mimics physiological signs of arousal, meaning that this may enhance or precipitate actual arousal.” We love to see it!
Of course, it’s important to recognise that menstrual cramps can be incredibly painful and put you out of the mood. If that’s the case, and sex feels entirely off the table for you, make sure you listen to your body.
“If you're in a huge amount of pain, and your partner's like, ‘Oh, like, let's have sex then,’ that's probably not gonna go amazingly,” Lauren explained.
“Because you still have to be able to get mentally aroused. If you are crying in pain… an orgasm is not going to cut it.”
Communication is key.
Let’s delve into the most important aspect of period sex (and all sex, really); communication.
Sex doesn’t necessarily mean penetration, and while you’re on your period, this might not even be something that you desire.
Lauren explained that communicating what you want from sex when you’re on your period will make the whole experience more enjoyable.
“It’s important to be clear…it might be that you really want to get into intimacy and touching, and you want to have sex, but you don't want to have penetrative sex on your period. Because that might be painful,” she said.
“Maybe, we don't want the penetrative experience, but we still want sexual intimacy. So [try] being clear about that.”
To towel or not to towel?
Next, it’s time to establish the space you want to create before having period sex.
If bleeding onto the sheets is a concern, you can always pop a towel down to prevent any unwanted stains.
On the other hand, if you’re not phased by the blood, don’t feel like you have to either! There’s no hard-and-fast method to having period sex, so feel to go with the flow (get it.)
“You might decide that you want to play around in the shower because there's this idea that that will make it a little bit of a less messy situation… So have a conversation around what environment you want to be having this sex in.”
Getting lubed up.
In terms of whether to use lube, Jane said that “if there is a reasonable flow of menstrual blood, that can provide extra lubrication, but fluids from sexual arousal will occur anyway, regardless of whether you're having a period or not.”
“Of course, there is a different consistency to menstrual blood.. It has a different kind of slipperiness.”
However, if you are usually a lover of lube, Lauren added that it’s probably best to still use some.
Oh, and use protection! Pregnancy and the transmission of STIs are still possible while you’re on your period, so be sure to practice safe sex, as usual.
Having the convo with your partner
When broaching the conversation with your partner, it’s important to recognise that stigmas surrounding period sex manifest themselves differently for everyone. Consequentially, this might bring about different responses from people when they’re presented with the idea.
Lauren said to prepare for the conversation by recognising that your partner might not have considered the topic as much as you already have. You might need to give them some time to think.
“We can often be really disappointed that our partner doesn't answer us the way we want them to straight away. Allow them to take the time to consider. Otherwise, you're gonna get a knee-jerk reaction.”
In terms of getting the ball rolling, Jane suggested starting by asking your partner if they’re familiar with having period sex and following up with what you’d like to try from there.
“It might be saying something like, ‘I'm interested in us trying sex during my period, how do you feel about that?’” Jane said.
Lauren added that starting the conversation with why you want to have sex on your period can also be a great way to engage in the topic for the first time.
“If you want, have the kind of conversation [where you start by saying] ‘I get really horny on my period… and I'd actually really like us to explore that together, how do you feel about that?’” she suggested.
“Reach out the hand by saying, ‘This is why I want to do it, I'm really excited by this idea of connecting.”
She noted that you could even talk through what you’ve learned from this article and what you know about your own body.
“[You could say] ‘I know, it's not going to be a huge amount of blood and I actually know that my body reacts really strongly to sensations [during my period], I'd really like to experience that with you as my partner. How do you feel?’”