If you’ve ever been in the mood for sex when you’re on your period, you’re not alone. But it’s not for everyone. It might be that you can’t imagine getting intimate when you’re bleeding and cramping, your partner’s not into it or you’re worried about the mess - especially if you have a heavy flow.
But if you and your partner are curious about having sex at that time of the month, the good news is that sex during menstruation is perfectly safe, healthy and can even have some benefits!
We’ve teamed up with SH:24, the online sexual health experts who provide free at-home STI tests and contraception. Their Senior Sexual Health Nurse, Helen Burkitt, tells us all about the unexpected advantages of sex on your period and offers advice for having a good time (IF you want to give it a try).
5 surprising benefits of period sex
Relief from cramps and headaches: When you orgasm, the muscles in and around your uterus contract. This can help relieve cramps. Studies have shown that sex can help with headaches too.
Feeling good: During sex, your body releases endorphins, the hormones that make you feel good. So this happy hormone, plus the distraction of intimate activity, can help take your mind off any pain and discomfort caused by your period.
A shorter period: Some people say they get shorter periods if they have sex while they’re bleeding. This could be because when you orgasm, muscles contract and tighten, which could help clear the menstrual blood and tissue from your uterus.
Increased sex drive: For some people, the hormone changes that come with their period leave them feeling more turned on, with a higher libido. Increased horniness = better sex!
Intimacy: Sex during your period can increase the intimacy between you and your partner. Showing that you love each other's bodies, and giving each other pleasure, no matter the time of the month, can bring you closer and help you better understand each other’s bodies.
Tips for trying period sex
The clean up
There’s nothing dirty or dangerous about menstrual blood, It’s just another body fluid that’s part of your sex life - like semen, sweat and vaginal fluid. But you might feel more comfortable with it if you have a plan for cleaning up. Protect your sheets by putting down a towel (and chucking it in the washing machine afterwards) or hop into the shower together to keep the intimacy going.
You still need contraception
Having your period does not protect you from getting pregnant or from getting an STI. You’ll have slightly more chance of transmitting bloodborne viruses like HIV and syphilis because they can be found in menstrual blood. And you can still get pregnant during your period. Condoms are ideal here as they prevent pregnancy and protect you from STIs.
Take out that tampon
If you use tampons, make sure to take it out before sex! Having sex with a tampon still inside can mean it gets pushed too high into the vaginal canal. This means your tampon will be harder to remove, and risks causing infections. Some menstrual caps are designed so you can wear them during sex but do check the instructions first.
Try something new
The changes in your body during this part of your cycle can make things a bit less comfortable during sex. Your cervix will be lower and firmer, so some positions won’t feel the same. And your breasts could be more tender. Communication is essential, so make sure to tell your partner if things don’t feel good.
Stay on track
Tracking your periods (we like apps like Clue) is a good idea so you can work your sex life around your periods. If you know you’re likely to have a heavy flow or intense cramps in the first few days of your period, then you can see when to expect that. And can try sex once those days have passed and your bleeding is lighter.
About SH:24: SH:24 is a multi-award winning digital sexual health service, delivering online sexual and reproductive services 24:7, in partnership with the NHS. SH:24 offers free and discreet at-home STI testing, treatment and contraception.