Period Sex: Safe, Messy, or Sexy?

A sanitary napkin with red flowers in the middle and small white flowers surrounding it
Published on
October 24, 2023

The idea of having sex with someone while they’re on their period seems to disturb some people - usually I hear the words “gross!” or “ew!” when it comes up around those who don’t find it appealing. What makes it “gross” seems to be subjective, but there’s generally some concern around the sensations related to it (be it smell, the feel, etc.). And while I know some people are squeamish around blood and therefore, understandably may have a hard time contemplating engaging in this activity, I’ve also found that once some people learn how to manage the sensations, they actually find period sex to be enjoyable.

Getting a person to that place typically involves some questions such as: Is it safe? Is it messy? How do I bring it up with my partner? But to start, we need to explore why someone would find this activity enjoyable in the first place:

Why would you want to have sex on your period?
  • Pain Relief: Some people find that sexual activity, including orgasms, can help relieve menstrual cramps and discomfort. This is due to the release of endorphins during sexual arousal and climax, which can act as natural painkillers.
  • Increased Lubrication: Menstrual blood can act as a natural lubricant, potentially making intercourse more comfortable for some individuals.
  • Shortened Period Duration: Some research suggests that uterine contractions during orgasm may help expel menstrual blood more quickly, potentially leading to a shorter period.
  • Enhanced Libido: Some people experience an increase in sexual desire and arousal during their period, which can lead to more satisfying sexual experiences.
  • Reduced Stress and Improved Mood: Sexual activity can lead to the release of endorphins, which can reduce stress and improve mood. This can be especially helpful for individuals experiencing premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or mood swings.
  • Emotional Connection: For some couples, having sex during a woman's period can foster emotional intimacy and a sense of closeness.
  • Kinky: Some people find it kinky or especially arousing to have period sex. Some of that can be related to the person on their period feeling a sense of empowerment or submission when having sex during this time.
  • Exploration and Open Communication: Engaging in period sex can promote open communication between partners about sexual desires and boundaries, leading to a healthier and more communicative sexual relationship.

Of course, not everyone may feel comfortable with or experience these benefits, and individual preferences and comfort levels vary. But if you haven’t tried it before and notice that one these benefits appeals to you, it may be worth exploring to see the impact for yourself/your partner(s)

Is it safe?

Yes, it is safe to have sex on one’s period; however, you still need to use birth control methods to prevent pregnancy. Having sex on your period does not mean that you are not susceptible to pregnancy (or STIs for that matter), so you still need to use whatever safe sex methods you would normally put in place to prevent pregnancy and STIs. The reasons you can still get pregnant while having period sex are:  

  • Sperm Survival: Sperm can survive inside the female reproductive tract for several days, depending on the conditions. If you have a short menstrual cycle, and if you have sex toward the end of your period and then ovulate shortly after, it's possible for the sperm to still be viable and fertilize an egg.
  • Irregular Cycles: Women with irregular menstrual cycles may find it difficult to predict when they ovulate. In such cases, it's possible to ovulate shortly after the period ends, and if sperm is still present in the reproductive tract, fertilization could occur.
  • Variability: Not all menstrual bleeding is the same, and sometimes what is thought to be a period could be spotting or irregular bleeding. This can add uncertainty to the timing of the menstrual cycle and ovulation.

So make sure that you and your partner(s) are putting protection in place. After that, you’re free to enjoy the experience!

Is it messy?

Sure it’s messy! But plenty of different types of sex can be messy and messy can be fun. There are ways to help mitigate the mess such as putting a towel or waterproof/washable blanket on the surface of where you are having sex. Keeping a damp towel or wipes nearby to wipe up any messes as they occur can also be helpful. Even planning to have a shower immediately afterwards can allow you clean off quickly and effectively.

Bear in mind, penetrative sex doesn’t have to happen while someone is on their period. Anal, oral, digital (using hands/“digits”), humping, etc. are all activities that can occur while a person is on their period and orgasms can still happen. If you’re worried about the mess, the person on their period can wear a tampon or menstrual cup or disc to decrease messiness. You’ll just want to make sure to use a little extra lube since the natural lubrication that the vagina produces won’t be available.

If you’re concerned about the smell, consider lighting some candles or use scented massage oil (externally only and avoid genitals to prevent potential yeast infections) to help pull your senses to a different smell. There’s also no guarantee that it’ll be smelly, so try it first and see what you notice. Regardless, do NOT douche. Vaginas are self-cleaning and douching can impact the bacteria in your vagina, potentially leading to yeast infections.

Generally, as long as you prep for period sex, it can be fairly mess (and smell) free!

How do I talk to my partner about having period sex?

If you think you’d like to give period sex a try (or maybe you tried it a long time ago and want to try and reintroduce it), here are some considerations for the conversation:

  • Collaborate with your partner to decide what type of sexual activities you both feel comfortable with during your period. Discuss methods to minimize potential mess.
  • While keeping the conversation open, ensure that you respect your partner's boundaries and avoid pressuring them to change their preferences. Consent and comfort are fundamental.
  • Express your desires assertively, but also be patient and understanding of your partner's feelings and reservations. Both partners should feel comfortable and willing to engage in any sexual activity.
  • Share with them what about it appeals to you. Is it just that you don’t want a break in your sexual connection during that time? Are you wanting to see if helps alleviate any period pain or help boost your mood? Are you looking to be penetrative or just want to experience an orgasm during that time? Does it sound hot to you? Etc.

Talking openly about it and getting clear on expectations will help set you up for success in trying this out. Not discussing it in advance could lead to confusion, misunderstanding or missed expectations which is why talking about it beforehand is so helpful.

While period sex might not be for everyone, if it’s something you’d like to try engaging in with your partner, give it a go (assuming they are also interested). Remember not to yuck anyone’s yum - if you try it and find that it’s not for one (or both) of you, that’s okay! You can cross it off your list and say you gave it a try. And if you find that it’s working for you, great! Sex while menstruating can bring a variety of different positive benefits and can be an opportunity to maintain connection, even during a slightly different time of the month!

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