When it comes to having sex during your period, where do you stand? A recent survey by the period tracking app Clue found that only 15% of women engage in their usual sexual behavior during their period. 

It’s totally understandable if some of the less desirable side effects of menstruation — cramps, bloating and PMS, to name a few — make you feel like passing on sex. But period sex might actually help alleviate some of these very symptoms. Sex while menstruating can lead to a number of positive benefits:

Helping to alleviate cramps. When you orgasm, your body releases endorphins like dopamine and oxytocin. These hormones and chemicals not only feel amazing – they can actually help alleviate pain caused by cramps.

Heightened libido. You might find yourself actually wanting sex more during your period. The shifting hormone levels that accompany your period may lead to an increased sex drive.

A shorter period. Yes, you read that correctly. When you orgasm, your uterus contracts, which may actually help speed up the shedding of your uterine lining.

Benefits aside, period sex can be amazing, and there’s no reason you should hold yourself back if you’re in the mood. We’ve gathered some tips to help you have great sex during your period.

Talk it out.

First things first, give your partner a heads up before the foreplay begins so there are no unwelcome surprises. Your partner might not mind period sex (it might even turn them on), but If they do, it could help to talk about specifically what bothers them. Getting it out in the open can destigmatize period sex, and help you plan around what is and isn’t ok with both of you during that time of the month.

Particularly if your partner is male, it may help to explain how much blood will actually be involved. The average woman only loses 6 – 8 teaspoons of blood during her entire period. If your partner’s envisioning a tidal wave of red in the bedroom, giving them the facts may ease any anxieties they have.

Place a towel on the bed.

Or invest in a set of dark sheets if you like to move around a lot during sex. You can even go a step further and buy a waterproof mattress cover. Whatever makes you feel most comfortable and carefree in the moment. If you do happen to stain anything, don’t fret: chances are, you can remove the spot.

Be aware of any heightened sensitivity.

Hormones and increased blood flow can make your breasts, nipples, genitals and vaginal canal feel more tender during your period. While this could be a good thing, it could also lead to discomfort. Be aware of how your body is feeling during sex, and communicate with your partner. 

Your cervix also sits lower during menstruation, so if you’re having penetrative sex, going as deep as you usually do may not feel good. Certain positions may not feel good either. One good position to try if you’re feeling sensitive is spooning, which allows you to control the depth of penetration.

Know how different positions affect your menstrual flow.

Here’s another reason why we like spooning during period sex. Any position where your hips are level with the surface you’re laying on, or higher than the rest of the body, can help control the amount of blood that comes out during sex. We wrote a whole blog post about sex positions, but a few more we recommend for period sex include the bridge, missionary with a pillow under your hips, and modified doggie style (think doggie style, lowered down onto your elbows). Want to be on top? That may mean more blood comes out. But hey, don’t let that stop you.

Take a shower.

We think sex in the shower – whether it’s oral, penetrative, or otherwise – is hot any time of the month. But the added benefit of shower sex during your period means not having to worry about making a mess. Just be sure to have a bottle of water-based lube nearby since water can wash away your body’s natural lubricant. 

And don’t feel like you have to stay in the shower! Foreplay in the shower before moving to the bed all squeaky clean is a great strategy during your period. If you or your partner are feeling unsure about period sex, or it’s your first time trying it out, shower sex can be a great way to test the waters (pun intended).

Focus on external stimulation.

You don’t have to have penetrative sex to have a good time and get off. Your period can be the perfect time to focus on other erogenous zones, like the clitoris, labia and perineum. The options here are many: Have your partner use their fingers to stimulate you, or go down on your partner while using a toy on yourself. You can even wear a tampon to stop your flow during this kind of sex.

Have a cleanup plan in place.

A little bit of postcoital prep can help you have fun, anxiety-free sex during your period. This means keeping some cleansing wipes handy, or hopping in the shower together immediately afterwards.

You might experience increased blood flow immediately after you get out of bed – especially if you were laying on your back or side the whole time. This is totally normal, but you might want to have underwear with a fresh pad ready, so you can put it on right away.

Embrace the opportunity to try something new.

Your period can be a great chance to shake up your sex life. Try something new that takes the pressure off having vaginal sex. Now’s the time to experiment with erotic massage, nipple play, or a new toy. Always been curious about anal sex? Your period could be a good time to try it out. Have a fantasy about masturbating in front of your partner? Maybe now’s the time to bring it to life.

At the end of the day, there’s no reason why period sex has to be avoided or treated differently. With a bit of preparation and an open mind, you and your partner can have fantastic sex, any day of the month.

Liz Mead is a writer and content strategist living in Brooklyn. She's passionate about technology and sustainability. For more of her work visit www.mizlead.com.