Centuries ago, women were often physically isolated from others when they had their periods and thought of as ‘unclean’. Those days are over. 

If you feel like, it, there’s no reason why you can’t have sex when you are menstruating, if that is what you feel like doing. It’s entirely you and your partner’s choice and you don’t have to take note of what other people say. Taboos often have little basis in fact. This is an issue you and your partner can discuss and decide on for yourselves. 

Here’s more about the ups and downs of having sex during your period, and the precautions you should take – some of which apply even if you are not having your period.

The benefits

You don’t have to use any lubrication. The menstrual blood fulfils the function of a natural lubricant, which can make it easier to have sex.

It could shorten your period. If you have an orgasm, your uterus contracts, and will push out the menstrual blood more quickly.

Relief from painful cramps. If you have cramps during your period, it is because your uterus is contracting in order to release its lining. An orgasm can speed up this process, and can also release feel-good hormones, called endorphins, which act as a natural pain reliever. Some women say that period sex can relieve headaches or migraines.

It could be more pleasurable. The vagina and vulva are swollen with blood when you are menstruating, which might increase some women’s sexual sensitivity – others might be more sexually sensitive during ovulation. 

Period sex: take note of these things

Mental barrier. Some women or their partners may have a mental barrier to having period sex. It’s only a mental barrier and there is no physical reason why you shouldn’t. Have an open discussion with your partner – it’s a choice you can make together.

Things could get messy. This is certainly true, and you might have to wash the sheets afterwards, but if you are comfortable with it, go for it – that includes intercourse, masturbation and oral sex. If you want to avoid any mess, consider having sex in the bath or the shower. You could also wear a female condom, which will allow penetrative sex, while capturing any possible blood flow.

You can get pregnant when having sex during your period. This is especially the case if you have a short menstrual cycle, and you are having sex towards the end of your period. It is wise to use contraception, as you would at any other time, unless you want to fall pregnant. Remember that sperm can stay alive inside you for several days.

Remove tampons before having sex. If you don’t, the risk exists that the tampon could get pushed further up into your vagina and could be difficult to get out again.

Take precautions against STIs. You are at a slightly higher risk of getting and passing on a sexually transmitted infection (such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea, HIV and hepatitis) if you have sex during your period. This is because the vagina is more alkaline during menstruation, making it easier for microbes to thrive.  Many STIs are transmitted through bodily fluids, and this includes menstrual blood. A latex condom can prevent both pregnancy and STIs.

Clean-up. Keep a washcloth, towel or wet wipes handy to clean up afterwards. Consider spreading a towel on the bed to keep the sheets clean. 

In short, forget about the myths that have been doing the rounds for centuries – they are just that: myths. Take the usual precautions, and you will both be fine. There is no need why having your period should put an end to your sex life. Unless, of course, that is what you choose.

Tell us: was this information new to you? Was it helpful? 

Read more here about the menstrual period.