Sex Advice

An OB/GYN Shares, Once and for All, Whether Having Sex Can Make Your Period Start Early

Photo: Getty Images/Boy_Anupong
If you've never had a sex session that ended in blood-stained Egyptian cotton bedsheets and a gasp of, "I'm SO sorry," consider yourself blessed. The curse of being a menstruating vulva-haver sometimes includes getting your period way before schedule—and then getting stuck with a tricky laundry project. And look: You should never feel ashamed of the natural things your body does, inconvenient as they may be. But regarding the concern of why this may happen, you might well be wondering: Can having sex start your period earlier?

Well, according to an OB/GYN, it's a bit complicated. The general answer, though, is perhaps—but it's not likely. That's because while sex might speed up the process of getting your period just a little bit, the event comes with caveats. "Having sex won't usually start your period earlier," says Lucky Sekhon, MD, fertility specialist and board certified OB/GYN. "It's theoretically conceivable, since sex can have high impact on the reproductive tract and orgasm can cause uterine contractions that may hasten the breakdown of the lining. However, this would only be the case where a [person] was already poised to get [their] period soon due to falling progesterone levels, after ovulation of an egg that did not result in pregnancy."

If you're already expecting it, and if the process has already started, sex play of any kind that results in orgasm may egg on your period, so to speak.

So essentially, having tons of penetrative sex won't suddenly jump-start your period if it's due, like, two weeks from now (if it does, consider scheduling an appointment with your medical provider). But if you're already expecting it, and if the process has already started, sex play of any kind that results in orgasm may egg on your period, so to speak. That means solo sex, non-penetrative sex acts, and penetrative sex alike can all start your period, if you're already within the window.

This is great news if you’re looking for a way to kick-start your menstrual cycle when it feels a little delayed (nothing like an orgasm to keep you flowing). But what if you're now worried about having that just-under-the-wire sex a day or so before you expect your period? Won’t somebody please think of the bedsheets?

Well, there are practical ways to troubleshoot any period leakage. For example, if you're really paranoid it might start as a result of your sex sesh, you can invest in a product like Flex Disc ($13), an insertable alternative to tampons and pads that can faciliate mess-free period sex. Likewise, if you're looking to protect those high thread count sheets, you might want to invest in a period blanket. (The Liberator Fascinator Throw Moisture Proof Blanket ($99) comes with high recommendations from sex writer Gabrielle Kassel.) It's also a multi-purpose product in that it can be gloriously used to shield your bed from scheduled period leakage as well—and other liquids, if you're simply a messy drink-coffee-in-bed person like I am.

And if your period does show up unexpectedly following your orgasm and you (and your bedspread) are completely unprepared? Well, you break out some hydrogen peroxide for the stain and keep it moving.

Looking for other things to help support your period? Here's how to eat for every phase of your menstrual cycle:

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