In Defense of Having Sex When You’re on Your Period
First, know that you can absolutely have sex safely during your period without encountering any inherent medical concerns, says fertility specialist and board-certified OB/GYN Lucky Sekhon, MD. But, as with any sex involving vaginal penetration with a penis, there is still a chance of pregnancy, says board-certified OB/GYN Alyssa Dweck, MS, MD, sexual and reproductive health expert for health-care brand Intimina. (And that's particularly important to reiterate, given the fact that almost half of respondents in a recent survey conducted by Intimina of more than 1,000 people with penises thought pregnancy during period sex wasn't possible.)
Even so, you can also enjoy period sex (as you could non-period sex) without any such risk by getting it on solo. And in either case—solo or partnered—period sex comes with its own share of unique health benefits, say the experts.
The potential benefits (and a few downsides) of having period sex
Whether you have solo or partnered period sex, it's the climax that really counts, says sex coach and speaker Sarah D'Andrea, MEd. “An orgasm releases so many pleasure hormones,” she points out, noting that these feel-good chemicals, including endorphins, can improve your post-sex mood. Beyond that, however, they can also act as an antidote to menstrual insomnia, cramping, headaches, and other symptoms linked to PMS, says Dr. Sekhon.
The hormones released during orgasm can be an antidote to PMS symptoms.
Many people who menstruate also reportedly experience shorter periods when they have sex during that time (although D'Andrea says there’s not much clinical research to back that up). One potential reason why this may happen? “Sometimes, the muscle contraction that can happen during orgasm [helps] release the uterine lining more efficiently,” says D'Andrea.
And as if those perks weren't enough, consider that menstruators who do engage in penetrative period sex may find that “menstrual blood is a great lubricant,” says D’Andrea. "A lot of people may not have as much natural arousal lubrication as they want. If you're having your period, that’s just extra fluid in your genitals that will make things a little bit slipperier," she says.
That said, the presence of menstrual blood during sex may also increase the risk of passing a sexually transmitted infection, since the blood itself can be a carrier for it, says Dr. Dweck. But, of course, STIs can move between partners without any blood in the picture, so it's always a smart idea to get tested before having penetrative sex (while on your period or not) with a new partner.
Expert advice for having good period sex
Assuming that you're sure of your own and your partner's negative STI status or you're just planning a solo period-sex sesh, the experts suggest going forth with whatever usually gets you going. Just be sure to remove any tampon or menstrual cup you might be wearing during your period ahead of engaging in sex play, in order to avoid it becoming impacted or difficult to retrieve, and to limit any risk of infection, says Dr. Sekhon.
If it's your first time having sex on your period with a partner, it's also wise to broach the topic before you dive in, just to ensure everyone's feeling comfortable and on the same wavelength, says Dr. Dweck. Many people with penises are less familiar with menstruation than you might think, and might feel frightened or embarrassed simply due to fear of the unknown, she adds.
In terms of the potential messy-sheets scenario, your simplest solution is to employ a dark-colored towel. Another option? Avoid the clean-up entirely by moving your sexual experience to the shower. Whatever you choose, though, know that there are minimal downsides to having sex while menstruating beyond the surface (or should we say, sheets) level. And in fact, the health benefits of period sex may make it well worth the extra load of laundry.
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