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Contrary to popular belief, having sex on your period is 100% normal. According to WebMD, period sex is a common phrase used to describe “sexual activity that happens while at least one partner is mensturating, or on their period.” Period sex can involve penetrative sex, oral sex, masturbation, and other sexual activities — in other words, you can explore period sex solo or try it out with your partner(s), if they want to!

But in 2022, having sex on your period is still taboo. According to a 2018 survey conducted by Clue, a period tracking phone app, and the Kinsey Institute Condom Research Team, only 15% of menstruating people keep their normal sex routine when they’re on their period. The same survey found that, of 95,000 participants from over 200 countries, 48% said they avoid all genital sexual activity while menstruating.

According to Bodyform UK, many people don’t want to try period sex because they think it’ll be “too messy,” while others claim that “it’s a turn off.” While many of these claims are myths (or have easy fixes), period sex is still stigmatized and viewed as “dirty” or “unsexy.” Ultimately, you have to ask yourself: Should you have to take a week off of intimate time with your partner just because Mother Nature decided to make a surprise appearance? Only you and your partner(s) can answer that question. 

Here is everything you need to know about having sex on you period and approaching the subject with your partner(s).

How to approach having period sex with your partner(s)

Just like anything having to do with sex, the key to intimacy is constant and clear communication. When approaching the topic of having sex while on your period, sit your partner(s) down and start a conversation about boundaries and active consent. According to RAINN, active consent is a clear and freely communicated agreement between participants to engage in sexual activity.

Dr. Aliyah Moore, a certified sex therapist with a Ph.D in Gender and Sexuality Studies at SexualAlpha, stresses the importance of active consent. “Both partners have to give and get consent throughout,” Dr. Moore says. Depending on your discussion with your partner(s), “you could also establish a safe word so that you can immediately stop the action when things start to get uncomfortable or overwhelming for either of you,” Dr. Moore says. Another aspect of consent is to “always give your partner the heads-up that you’re on your period before doing the deed. It doesn’t matter if you’re comfortable with the idea, always tell them ahead and get their consent.”

While it may seem uncomfortable and awkward at first, period sex can even be empowering, releasing notions of “menstrual shame” and allowing one to feel comfortable in their own body. Dr. Moore suggests starting a dialogue outside of the bedroom. “This gives you and your partner some time to think without being pressured to do things right away,” she says.

“Conversations around period sex shouldn’t just happen once, and you’re done. They must comprise a series of talks between consenting partners.”

When you’re ready to have a conversation, be straightforward. You can start by saying something like, “Just thought I’d let you know I’m on my period. Would you still be comfortable with having sex?” Dr. Moore also notes that “conversations around period sex shouldn’t just happen once, and you’re done. Rather, they must comprise a series of talks between consenting partners.”

Pros & cons of period sex

Before having sex on your period, you should consider the immediate risks and rewards. Dr. Moore tells Her Campus that one of the most obvious cons of period sex is that “you can end up staining your beloved sheets, mattress or sofa if you aren’t prepared for it.” An easy fix for messy sex? Grab a towel beforehand and lay it down on the bed.

“There’s no need to push yourself if things are painful or uncomfortable down there. If penetrative sex is uncomfortable, you can always engage in non-penetrative sexual acts that will satisfy you and your partner(s).”

Another potential disadvantage of having sex on your period is possible discomfort, which can lead to a learning curve. While usual sex positions can be uncomfortable, and especially if your flow is heavy when on your period, you and your partner can “experiment and find what sex positions work best for you,” according to Dr. Moore. “There’s no need to push yourself if things are painful or uncomfortable down there,” Dr. Moore continues to tell Her Campus. “And if penetrative sex is uncomfortable, you can always engage in non-penetrative sexual acts that will satisfy you and your partner(s).” You can try using toys, too!

Having sex on your period can also be quite pleasurable. From the sex education side of TikTok, Danielle Bezalel, MPH, also known as @sexedwithdb, says that having sex while on your period can relieve menstrual cramps. “When menstruating, individuals often experience cramps because the uterus constricts to shed its lining,” Dr. Moore tells Her Campus. “When people who menstruate are aroused, the muscles in the uterus also contract. These muscles eventually relax when a person who menstruates orgasms, relieving menstrual cramps.” Additionally, experiencing orgasm can trigger the release of endorphins, or feel-good hormones, which can also help with cramping.

Additionally, people who menstruate can feel more turned on while on their period. “This is because estrogen and testosterone levels shoot up at the start of a period,” Dr. Moore explains. “As a result, many report feeling not only more aroused but also more sensitive in various parts of the body, especially the genitals and breasts.” 

Period blood can also provide extra lubrication, which is especially beneficial if you tend to experience dryness during sex. “Blood serves as a natural lubricant that can further build your arousal and both of your pleasures,” Dr. Moore says. 

Having sex while on your period can even help to speed up the length of your menstruation. “When you orgasm, the uterus contracts and pushes out its lining, making the period blood get out not only faster but also sooner,” Dr. Moore says. 

Misconceptions about period sex

One of the most common misconceptions about having sex while on your period is that you can’t get pregnant — but this is actually not the case. Dr. Moore explains to Her Campus that “sperm can live up to five days inside you. There’s also the chance that you can ovulate within your period cycle.” While it is perhaps less likely for you to get pregnant during your period, it all depends on your ovulation cycle, according to Healthline.

Another popular misconception regarding period sex is that you can’t pass STIs with period blood. “You could still pass on all sorts of infections if you don’t use any protection during period sex, especially if your partner is infected,” Dr. Moore says. According to Health, it can even be more likely to pass STIs while on your period, especially because while you are menstruating, your cervix opens up slightly to allow blood to pass from the uterus — but this can also allow bacteria and viruses to pass more easily, too.

Perhaps the most common misconception about period sex, though, is that people who menstruate gush blood, making your sheets look like a horror movie after period sex. According to a study of over 500 people conducted by Flex, almost half of participants reported avoiding period sex because they believe it’s “gross. But where does this belief stem from? Hollywood and the media perpetuate this stereotype, portraying periods and period sex as “messy” and “disgusting” in blockbuster movies like Carrie and others. However, once again, period sex is not gross — menstrual blood is completely normal, and is never something to be embarrassed about.

What to expect during period sex

Now that you’ve established that both you and your partner are comfortable having sex while you’re on your period, it’s important to make sure that you’re safe while doing do. “Make sure that your penis-having partner wears a condom,” Dr. Moore advises. “Wearing a condom while having period sex not only protects against possible pregnancy but also blood-borne STIs.” 

If you use tampons, it’s crucial that you remove yours before having sex. “If you forget to remove your tampon before having period sex, it might get pushed too far into your vagina when you have penetrative sex,” Dr. Moore tells Her Campus. “You could end up seeing a doctor to have it manually removed.” 

Additionally, if you’re planning on having penetrative period sex, try out different positions to see what is most comfortable for you and your partner(s). If you prefer shallow penetrative sex, Dr. Moore recommends trying the spooning position. The butterfly position and the missionary position also allow for less leakage and more comfort if you’re cramping, according to Women’s Health.

You also can try using sex toys with your partner(s) specifically designed for clitoral stimulation or other parts of your body, all while keeping your tampon in. Another option is trying non-penetrative sex with your partner(s), like sensual massage, passionate kissing, and oral sex.

Kayleigh is a Fine Arts major with an emphasis in English and Cinema Studies. Along with writing for Her Campus, she is a Campus Trendsetter. When she is not writing, you can find her watching Netflix and crying over fictional characters.
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