Back in my days of cubicles and office work, a co-worker once complained to me that she was on her period, but her boyfriend was staying over for the weekend. She knew he'd be satisfied sexually by her own efforts, while she'd wind up feeling frustrated and have to take plenty of painkillers for her menstrual cramps.
"The worst thing about it," she whispered, "is that I'm so freaking horny on my period. Ugh. Men will never get it."
My frustrated coworker ranted on for a few more minutes, complaining that men expect BJs and handys during that time of the month while we feel like shit. I couldn't disagree since my personal experience involved much of the same, but I thought it was sad. My co-worker was unwilling to broach the subject with her then-boyfriend and eventual husband. She didn't want him to think that she was crazy.
How many other women refuse to bring up their desires in the bedroom only because men might think they're gross? And who decided it was so damn gross in the first place?
Were menstrual cycles reversed and only experienced by men, I have no doubt that period sex would be about as normal as men choosing to grow beards. As far too many women already know from experience, just as many men are no strangers to making sex happen... come hell or high water. So I suspect that most men would continue to have sex if they had a menstrual cycle--bleeding be damned.
Like my former coworker, I tend to feel pretty frisky whenever my period rolls around. Especially when I'm more "in-tune" with my body. When I feel like my best self, my period inspires cravings for bananas, top quality dark chocolate... and p in v sex.
For a long time, I thought it was something I shouldn't talk about because it was somehow abnormal. In short, I thought I was a freak to even want to have sex during my period.
The idea of period sex being some depraved or otherwise disgusting act likely stems from society's overall attitude about women on their periods. Most of us have been taught that it's dirty or unclean. Many women will go to great lengths just to avoid being seen buying menstrual products like pads or tampons. In some households, it's mortifying to even imagine a brother, father, or husband might see some evidence of our Aunt Flo.
"It’s sad that the most glorious of sexual experiences can make us feel guilty, ashamed, embarrassed, and abnormal." -Sue Johanson
In reality, it's silly and sad. As much as some of us girls feel like we're hemorrhaging, our blood and menstrual fluid are counted in milliliters. And not much more than 100 at the most. We’re needlessly self-conscious about this ongoing bodily process that won't deter us from school or work--unless perhaps, we're doubling over in pain due to cramps and inflammation.
And while period sex carries a weird stigma, what about other types of sex? Like sex when you have allergies or a cold. Plenty of couples have sex and risk getting their partner sick with a sore throat, a runny nose, or worse. We all risk some exposure to STIs. Yet it's practically the norm for women to worry more about period sex. Unexpected periods can ruin honeymoons, long-awaited holidays, and any number of impromptu sex sessions--usually because so many women think they're not supposed to even want sex then.
For the record, if you are a woman who hates being touched during her TOM and/or wants nothing to do with period sex, I don't think you're a prude, and I'm not trying to change your mind. But for women who do want to have sex that also feels pleasurable to them during their periods, that conversation shouldn't be taboo.
Another monthly gift?
There are definite health benefits to period sex, just like there are health benefits to giving your male partner head. For one thing, period sex feels good. As in otherworldly good. Period sex is extra slippery due to the extra lubricant, of course. And reaching orgasm delivers pain-relieving hormones throughout your body--just what you need while on the rag.
But honestly, if you suffer from excessively painful menstrual cramps and inflammation, there's just something about penetrative sex. Like scratching a deep itch that nothing else can soothe. Just the mere sensation of p in v intercourse during a period is enough to work out your kinks, like a much-needed massage.
Personally, penetrative sex isn't my favorite sexual activity during any other time of the month, but once I'm feeling bogged down by TOM, I actually crave it alone. And sure, I know how weird that sounds to a lot of people, because I've talked to them about it.
Most women I speak with either a.) don't want to tell their partners about their desires for period sex, or b.) say they can't imagine it feeling good since their monthly gift makes them feel so bad. But I think plenty of women would be surprised to discover just how pleasurable it can be. If there wasn't so much yucky stigma.
Some men I've dated won't try it. I might broach the topic and gently mention if my period comes early, and some will say it weirds them out. But to be honest, none of those men have been weirded out to have a woman on her period service them orally or manually--even knowing she's not feeling great. They just don't want to see or smell her blood.
Maybe if a woman's reproductive system and menstrual cycle were less taboo, we'd not only have an easier time bringing up period sex, but we could talk more openly about tips to make it more pleasurable for all parties.
I credit sex educator Sue Johanson for going a very long way to help reshape my formerly rigid or even fearful views about sex, and I always appreciated how she made sex so... matter of fact. I dont think period sex needs to be any different.
The truth is that a freshly showered woman who's already a couple of days into her period could very likely have period sex without her partner being none the wiser. But as soon as a woman tells a man that she's got her period, his mind is in danger of running away with him and picturing a Jackson Pollock set of bedsheets splattered red.
(Please don't lie to your sexual partner. I'm not advocating that women hide their periods.)
Keep it simple, silly.
If you're lucky enough to find a partner who's up for period sex, invest in a dark-colored bath sheet or dark bed sheets you're willing to wash promptly. And take a shower before intercourse, or opt for a shower-only rendezvous.
Keep in mind that women bleed vaginally (which means the clit does not bleed, ahem, hint hint), and even the heaviest of flows won't kill you. Guys, wear a condom. Pregnancy is less likely during that time of the month, but not impossible. Plus, condoms help prevent STIs.
One innovative solution for mess-free period sex is to have the menstruating woman wear a FLEX Disc, a unique and (also disposable) alternative to tampons, pads, and menstrual cups. Because FLEX sits just past the vaginal canal in the same place as a diaphragm, messy period sex becomes a non-issue.
Look, I'm never out to force people into sexual activities that don't interest them, but I do think it's time to end the stigma of enjoying period sex. It's not weird or gross. Throughout history, women have been encouraged to stifle their own pleasure for the sake of men, children, and society. Besides, it's okay to find pleasure in something which may not be convenient.
It's not too late to change the dialogue we have about sex and menstruation, but let's face it--the change must begin with us. Women have to change the way we speak to and about our own bodies before expecting change from our men.
If a woman wants period sex, she should be able to speak openly to her partner without shame or fear of censure. And men, I'm not suggesting you engage in some disgusting sexual practice that makes you gag. I do ask that you challenge yourselves to question why a woman's period tweaks you out if you see no problem with (or even get turned on by) a woman handling your messy jizz.
Just in case you're still on the fence about period sex, here are a couple of reputable resources from Healthline and VeryWell. And if you're looking for a laugh? It's like Sue says, "If you can’t laugh about sex, you shouldn’t be doing it."