Period sex can be awkward. Talking about period sex can be even more awkward. No, we’re not going to tell you the “X reasons why you should have period sex” or tell you to buck up and just do it. But naturally, we love talking about both of these topics, so we’d like to lay down some facts about period sex.
1. It’s OK to have sex during your period. Really.
You don’t have to spare yourself pleasure for 2–7 days every month if you don’t want to. For some people, period sex is just as pleasurable as sex outside of menstruation. For others, it can be more pleasurable.
30% of sexually active people have sex during their period (1,2).
2. Some people feel more aroused during their period.
Studies have shown that periods have no negative effect on sexual arousal, and some women notice heightened levels of arousal during their period (2,3).
There are plenty of societal attitudes towards period sex that affect arousal (4). If you ignore these biases and listen to your body, you may notice increased sex drive during menstruation.
3. Orgasms can ease cramps.
Orgasms can relieve menstrual cramps for some people — based on the strength and intensity of the climax. Vaginal orgasms have substantial alleviating properties, much more than clitoral stimulation (5).
4. No issues with lubricant.
Natural lubricant, anyone?
5. You’re more likely to spread sexually transmitted infections.
Proceed with caution. Sex during menstruation may contribute to transmission of some sexually transmitted infections (such as HIV)(6).
6. Yes, you can still get pregnant.
People with regular 28-day cycles are less likely to ovulate around their period (and therefore less likely to get pregnant), but there are many reported cases of ovulation happening close to menstruation. Because sperm can live up to seven days, it is possible to get pregnant during your period (7).
Keep in mind that the fertile window can be highly unpredictable from person to person and cycle to cycle, and people with very short cycles may ovulate right after their period (8).
In addition, some individuals experience mid-cycle bleeding or spotting. This can occur during ovulation and be mistaken for a period, making it difficult to establish the exact place in the menstrual cycle (7,8).
1. Lurie S. Does intercourse during menses increase the risk for sexually transmitted disease? Arch Gynecol Obstet. 2010;282(6):627–30.
2. Allen KR, Goldberg AE. Sexual activity during menstruation: a qualitative study. J Sex Res. 2009;46(6):535–45.
3. Guillermo CJ, Manlove HA, Gray PB, Zava DT, Marrs CR. Female social and sexual interest across the menstrual cycle: the roles of pain, sleep and hormones. BMC Womens Health. 2010;10:19.
4. Meuwissen I, Over R. Sexual arousal across phases of the human menstrual cycle. Arch Sex Behav. 1992;21(2):101–19.
5. Brody S. The relative health benefits of different sexual activities. J Sex Med. 2010;7(4 Pt 1):1336–61.
6. Tanfer K, Aral SO. Sexual intercourse during menstruation and self-reported sexually transmitted disease history among women. Sex Transm Dis. 1996;23(5):395–401.
7. Wilcox AJ, Dunson D, Baird DD. The timing of the “fertile window” in the menstrual cycle: day specific estimates from a prospective study. BMJ. 2000;321(7271):1259–62.
8. Stirnemann JJ, Samson A, Bernard JP, Thalabard JC. Day-specific probabilities of conception in fertile cycles resulting in spontaneous pregnancies. Hum Reprod. 2013;28(4):1110–6.