Young woman holding menstruation calendar
When it comes to action between the sheets, you should feel comfortable expressing your desires to your partner without the fear of being judged. Representation is so important and seeing other people talk about and normalize bodies and actions makes a massive difference. However, period sex may be the final sexual taboo. Conversations about sex during your monthly bleed may not be going on but a study has found that the majority of people have had sex on their period and some even said they prefer it. Some symptoms of PMS may make you want to curl up on the sofa and forget about sex for a week of the month. However, if you do feel particularly turned on around the time of your period you’re not alone.
Women’s health brand INTIMINA wanted to access people’s views on period sex to establish whether archaic taboos were stopping people from feeling empowered in the bedroom. Many negative connotations attached to period sex branch from the idea that it’s dirty or dangerous but that’s absolutely not the case. INTIMINA spoke to 500 people between the ages of 18 and 50 and found that 82% of women have sex on their period. Research suggests that sex alleviates some symptoms of PMS, like cramping, and you have natural lubrication. 58% said they enjoy having period sex and only 10% said they find it disgusting.
“Women and men still find period sex uncomfortable because it’s messy, blood can smell and it can stain sheets. Women may worry that their male partners will be turned off by blood. Men may be frightened when seeing blood and even feel that may have hurt their partner,” says Dr. Alyssa Dweck, INTIMINA’s Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health expert, “moreover, the embarrassment factor is a deterrent for some.”
Menstrual blood is made up of blood as well as extra tissue from the uterine lining which can form clots. Your period tends to be heaviest and brightest red on the first two days of your bleed. The notion that period blood is dirty or dangerous is completely incorrect and reinforces the idea that periods are shameful. However, period sex can be a little bit messy. 57% of the people INTIMINA spoke to said the mess did bother them but 74% said they still do it in bed. By laying down a towel and choosing sex positions that work with gravity, like missionary and spooning, you’ll minimize the clean up afterward.
Your period blood isn’t only safe but is a really great natural lubricant and there’s a number of perks to period sex if you want to give it a go. Research has found that orgasms are natural pain relief and if you suffer from abdominal cramps it may help with them. Similarly, when you orgasm the walls of your uterus contract which may mean the blood comes out quicker. This can shorten the length of your period. 41% of people in the survey said they sometimes orgasm better during their period and 12% said their orgasms always feel better.
“In many ways sex on your period has advantages. You are less likely to get pregnant, orgasms are often more intense during menses and cramps can be relieved,” says Dr. Dweck, “I recommend going with the flow (no pun intended) and use a dark towel for the mess, consider shower sex or use the ZIGGY Cup from INTIMINA to catch menstrual blood for mess-free sex.”
You might notice that throughout your menstrual cycle your libido fluctuates. This is partially down to your hormones. During your bleed your levels of estrogen and progesterone are low. They build up again the days before and of ovulation and you may feel sexier around this time. However, during your period you have a slight surge in testosterone. Testosterone has been linked to increased libido in cis men and therefore may have the same effect.
Anecdotally people have reported feeling more turned on during their period. 26% of people who spoke to INTIMINA said they feel horny all the time during their period. 32% said they feel horny often on their period and 34% said they feel horny sometimes on their period.
Along with alleviating symptoms of PMS, having sex during your period is pleasurable, a source of stress relief, and helps you bond with your partner. You can still catch an STI during your period and although it’s unlikely, you may still get pregnant so it’s important to use protection. However, if research is to be believed the stigma surrounding period sex is becoming a thing of the past.