Period sex: Breaking the taboo

Underwear with sequinned 'period blood'

Considering roughly half of the world’s population will spend many years of their lives menstruating, it’s surprising that periods are still seen as a taboo subject  especially when it comes to *shock, horror* period sex. But the truth is, it’s very normal and can actually be a great experience! If you’re unsure, we’ve answered some questions you might have.

Is period sex safe?

Period or no period, any penetrative sex that takes place without a condom means that the risk of transmission of sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV is higher  so it’s important you use condoms, or another method of barrier protection. And as usual, if using sex toys give them a thorough wash before and after use. 

What about pregnancy?

Because your period generally falls into the part of the ovulation cycle where you’re less fertile, it means you’re less likely to become pregnant. However, it is still possible as some women ovulate early, and sperm can survive inside a woman's body for up to a week, so if you want to avoid a pregnancy, ensure you use contraception  we’ve got loads of suggestions here.

But is period sex “weird”?

No! There are all sorts of cultural and religious reasons why it’s developed the stigma it has, but the reality is that period sex is perfectly normal, and more people are probably doing it than you realize. The more we talk about it, the more we can break through that stigma. 

Are there any benefits to period sex?

Yes  orgasms can help ease period cramps, and the extra lubrication from the blood can make some sexual activity easier or more enjoyable. Hormonal changes can also lead to intensified arousal and sensitivity, meaning period sex can, in fact, be especially pleasurable. 

Saying that, hormonal changes mean you might just not be in the mood for sex too. Some people might also find sex more painful than when they’re not on their period, as the cervix is in a slightly different position during a period. 

There are many physical and emotional variations that someone might feel about period sex, and that’s OK. 

Will it affect my period?

Some people report their periods being slightly shorter after having period sex  this is due to muscle contractions pushing out the contents of your uterine lining faster. However, this won’t be the case for everyone, every time.  

Won’t it be really messy?

Given the average person loses 6-8 teaspoons of blood during their entire period, it’s unlikely much will come out while you’re having sex, beyond just a few smears of blood on the bed. Many people choose to put a towel down first to make it easier to clean up after, or to do it in the shower, but that’s all entirely up to you and your partner. 

What if I or my partner simply don’t want to have period sex?

As with any sexual activity of any kind, consent must be obtained from everyone involved first  so talk to your partner before getting down to it! Many people choose to forgo vaginal sex while they’re on their period, in favour of other forms of intimacy or none at all, and that’s fine too. Communicating your desires with each other in a respectful way is key, as always.