Love it? Hate it? Think you maybe want to try it? Wherever you land, here’s what you need to know about period sex before you throw caution, and your tampon, to the wind.
It’s safe — but there are a few risks
Don’t worry — despite any myths you may have heard, period sex won’t hurt your uterus. But keep in mind that STIs can spread through menstrual blood, so protection with a non-monogamous or not-recently-tested partner is still a must. An extra must, in fact, since your cervix is more open during this time and could increase your risk of picking up STIs and harmful bacteria. Your period can also leave you more vulnerable to issues like yeast infections, since the pH level of your vagina increases during this time.
Yes, you can still get pregnant
It’s a myth that you can’t get pregnant during your period… as plenty of women and the show I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant can probably attest to. Remember, sperm can live for up to five days. And while you’re less likely to ovulate during your period when you have a normal 28-day cycle, you may not have a normal 28-day cycle!
You may want more sex during your period
Feeling extra frisky during your period every month like clockwork? You’re not imagining it. Research has found that women tend to be more interested in sex and more easily aroused when they’re on their periods. And that sex is more satisfying too. Flying solo? Masturbation also peaks during menstruation.
It can feel better… or worse
During your period, your cervix drops a little lower. That can either be a good or bad thing for your sex life, depending on your personal preferences — some women get extra pleasure out of period sex, thanks to the nerve endings of the cervix getting more action. For others, that sensation is uncomfortable or even painful. If that’s you, avoid deep-penetration positions, like doggy style, during your period.
It improves shower sex
Shower sex can be a pain, literally… and not just because of the risk of slipping. Water can wash away your natural lubrication, making penetrative sex more ouch than oooh. But when you’re on your period, you have two things working for you — one, the blood acts as a natural lubricant. And two, you’re also more lubricated during ovulation thanks to high estrogen levels.
You probably won’t ruin the sheets
Or the couch, or the floor, or wherever you get busy. After all, you only lose about 30-40 milliliters (that’s less than three tablespoons) of blood on average during each period, so there’s no chance the one sex session will make your bedroom look like a scene from Carrie. If you’re concerned, just throw a towel down and go to town.
It can ease cramps and shorten your period
One major thing to add to the “pro” column? Vaginal orgasms can alleviate cramps and other symptoms of PMS, thanks to the rush of endorphins and muscle contractions. Sure beats a heating pad. They can also help shorten your period, since each vaginal muscle contraction expels more menstrual fluid.
Not everyone is on board
Not all men are convinced enough to try it — one study found that 45% of women have had a male partner turn down sex when they were on their period. And another study found that about half of men and women alike find period sex gross. Hey, it’s not mandatory — but if you’re intrigued, there’s no shortage of great reasons to try it.