“Riding” the Crimson Wave: Demystifying Period Sex

Almost nothing could induce a dry spell faster than the onset of cramps and bloating. There’s something sobering about looking into a bloodied pad, like it’s an oracle revealing our abysmal sexual fate. But who says our sexuality should shut down when our periods gear up? We’re coming into an exciting era of sexual liberation; women are wearing Pussyhats, demanding tax-free tampons, and campaigning for pro-choice legislation, but despite these advances, we still worry about getting it on while menstruating. So why is period sex still taboo?

Since the inception of misogyny (AKA the beginning of time), we as women have been taught that our natural reproductive functions are repulsive. Negative cultural interpretations of menstruation have hijacked our body images, making us feel like lepers in the eyes of society. It makes sense, then, that a lot of women would be uncomfortable with the idea of sexual intimacy during shark week. In a study of undergraduate women for the Journal of Sex Research, only 37% of the sexually-active subjects admitted to having period sex. The women not interested in getting down during their times of the month all expressed embarrassment regarding their menses, which in turn made them view period sex as “disgusting” and “unhygienic.”

While many women worry about fooling around on their periods, a lot of men surprisingly don’t mind having sex with a menstruating partner. In a MensHealth.com survey, three-quarters of the participants said they would sleep with a woman on her period (God bless the persistence of the male sex drive). That leaves it to us then, ladies: we must conquer our menstrual shame for the betterment of our sex lives—trust me, your clit will thank you.

Let me take you back to the first time my menstrual libido saw a world beyond my vibrator. I was on day four or five of my cycle. My horniness was beginning to impair my senses. In the past, my boyfriend had politely refused my sexual advances (while on my period) but his hormones were presenting him with a moral crisis. Finally, he gave into his lustful loins and we were both captivated by the sensuality of period sex. We both reveled in the new sensations brought on by my body’s altered state and I thoroughly enjoyed telling my previously-hesitant significant other “I told you so.”

Aside from my own experience, period sex has been proven to be back-archingly good for all parties involved. Sara Gottfried, M.D., author of The Hormone Cure, says that raised testosterone levels during menstruation can result in a heightened sex drive. Also beneficial is the way menstrual blood acts as a natural lubricant, says Amy Levine (founder of IgniteYourPleasure.com). As an added bonus, Levine confirms that climaxing is a great way to relieve menstrual cramps. If you’re somehow not yet convinced, some of the subjects from the Journal of Sex Research study said that menstrual sex was a very “intimate” way for them to connect with their SOs.

Beyond your relationship with your sexual partner, your relationship with your body can also be improved. Pushing your comfort zone by engaging in period sex can break the cycle (pun intended) of menstrual and body shame. The more messy sex the world has, the more both men and women can become comfortable with female sexuality, leading to a more sex-positive and gender-equal society. At this point you must be swayed, so put down the Midol and turn to sex to ease your menstrual woes.

We spend approximately 10% of our lives on our periods. If we close up shop every time we shed our uterine lining then we’re drastically limiting our sex lives. It’s normal to be nervous; period sex can be scary new territory. Your bed may end up looking like a murder scene or your back may end up looking like Wilson from Castaway (speaking from personal experience), but if your sexual partner won’t laugh it off with you, are they really worthy of getting your sweet, sweet puss? Look, having period sex isn’t necessarily mess-free, but then again, they don’t call it “getting down and dirty” for no reason.


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