Whether you maintain an active sex life throughout the month, or avoid sex during your period for any reason, there is still something of a taboo around sex while menstruating. The questions we have about this topic often remain shadowed in uncertainty.
Having sex while menstruating actually has some advantages, even if it requires a little preparation to avoid staining your favorite sheets. Do remember to use protection, because you can still get an STD when you’re on your period, and even getting pregnant is not unheard of.
Menstruation is a natural biological process that women undergo monthly for the greater part of their lives—from puberty through menopause.
Once a young woman enters puberty, her body begins to prepare for the possibility of pregnancy and goes through a series of cyclical hormonal changes that repeat monthly, on average. During each cycle her uterine lining, or endometrium, thickens in order to create a supportive environment to receive and nurture a fertilized egg. If she does not become pregnant, the endometrium is shed as menstrual fluid and new lining grows in the next cycle. Menstrual fluid contains not only blood, but also cervical mucus, vaginal secretions, and endometrial tissue. The volume of the menstrual fluid is usually between 5 and 25ml and the menstrual period can last from 2 to 6 days.
During menstruation, the female genitals don’t show any physiological modifications—there is generally no swelling, narrowing, or special sensitivity.
Most women experience some pain and discomfort during menstruation, including:
For some women, period discomfort can be severe enough to affect their social lives, although from a medical point of view, menstrual bleeding is no reason to abstain from sex, except in the case of sexually transmitted diseases.
Sexually transmitted diseases include chlamydia, genital warts, gonorrhea, hepatitis B, herpes, HIV, human papillomavirus (HPV), molluscum contagiosum, syphilis, trichomoniasis, scabies and pubic lice.
Bleeding together with physical intimacy can promote the transmission of an infection, so it is important to protect yourself by using a condom.
If you engage in sexual intercourse it is possible to become pregnant, even during menstruation. A woman’s fertility window can be much longer than the two to three days around ovulation, some say five to six days and even up to nine days. In the case of a disrupted cycle, fertilization can occur even while a woman is menstruating. Also, sperm survive an average of four days in the vagina. So, if you have sex on the last day of your period and ovulate within the next few days, there is still a chance you might get pregnant.
Whether or not you want to make love during your period is up to you. Not everyone enjoys it, and many have had their opinions shaped by the associated taboos.
The flow of blood does not prevent sexual intercourse and penetration. But some women refuse to make love because they feel dirty. According to a survey, many women avoid sexual relations, their partner’s tenderness, and even just staying overnight with their partner during this time.
Some religions consider sex while menstruating to be unacceptable. This is one of the reasons why sexual abstinence is sometimes favored at this stage of a woman’s monthly cycle by both men and women.
But this is not the case for all men and women, far from it! Some people feel a real heightening of the libido during this period. Whatever is true for you, remember that both partners must feel respected and sex should never be an obligation.
Having sex during your period does have a few upsides:
The biggest downside to having sex during your period is the mess. Blood can get on you, on your partner, and on the sheets, especially if you have a heavy flow.
But there are some precautions you can take. For example, you can use a waterproof sheet or spread a dark-colored towel under you to avoid staining them. You can also opt for a quickie in the shower. The sexual position you choose also makes a difference. The missionary position—where the woman lies on her back—can also limit blood flow. Keep a wet washcloth or wet wipes by the bed to clean up afterwards.
To minimize the amount of blood flowing from your vagina during sex, you could try using a menstrual cup—a relatively small, flexible blood-collection device that is used as an alternative to tampons or pads.
Most reusable menstrual cups need to be taken out before sex, but the soft disposable kind do not. If the cup is the right size and has been properly inserted, your partner shouldn’t be able to feel it during intercourse, and there shouldn’t be any leaking. However, some women may feel discomfort or even pain using this device during sex or may want to avoid it because the vagina feels crowded.
If you do use a menstrual cup, confirm with your doctor that it is safe to use during sex. And remember, the menstrual cup does not protect you against pregnancy or STDs.
Another option for decreasing menstrual flow is the vaginal contraceptive sponge. It traps blood in the upper part of the vagina just like the menstrual cup. Although it may not as effective at collecting blood, it’s likely to be more comfortable. It also has the added benefit of preventing pregnancy.
Although cunnilingus during menstruation may be an uncomfortable topic, you don’t have to abandon oral sex on your period. The clitoris does not bleed, menstrual blood flows from the vagina. If you wear a tampon or a (well-fitting) menstrual cup, your partner should be able to pleasure you orally without fear of getting blood anywhere.
Remember! If you use tampons, always remember to remove your tampon before having intercourse. A forgotten tampon can get pushed farther into the vagina and potentially cause a bacterial infection. Furthermore, a tampon that has been pushed too far into the body may need to be removed by a doctor.
With a little preparation, sex can be just as enjoyable during your period as it is during the rest of your cycle.
You can track your period using WomanLog. Download WomanLog now: