[It is important to note that not all people who menstruate identify as women, and not all women have periods.]*
Are you or a partner jumping on the red bus? Maybe dreaded aunty Flo is coming to stay? Or, as the French say: ‘Les Anglais ont debarqué’ (the English have landed). Whatever you like to call that time of the month, we wanted to find out some bloody interesting things about period sex for you!
In our survey, 90% of you have had sex whilst you or your partner was on their period. So, let’s dive a little deeper into the crimson waves about why 55% of you might choose not to do it again.
We believe that the more we understand the way the body works, the better informed our decisions are – particularly when it comes to periods and sex.
So here’s 5 bloody interesting questions we wanted answering:
- What should you know about periods before having period sex?
- On a scale of bubble-bath to blood-bath: how much do you like period sex?
- What are some reasons you might not want to have period sex?
- What are some common misconceptions and myths surrounding period sex?
- Are there any benefits to having sex on your period?
[For some sexy period sex stories and How To Have Great Period Sex. Period. read here.]
1. What should you know about periods?
What are periods?
Periods are nature’s monthly shedding of the lining of the womb when an egg has not been fertilised. People usually shed between 4 and 12 teaspoons of blood over a period of 3-7 days.
The first day of the period is the first day of a cycle, and a cycle can last anywhere from 23-35 days (with the most common being 28 days).
Everyone’s flow is different. For some it’s barely noticeable, but others may experience the wrath of Moses commanding the red sea to come crashing down and rain bloody hell on your existence (but of course not really as the most you’re likely to lose is 50ml, but it can definitely feel like this at times!).
What’s the deal with tampons?
Tampons are inserted into the vagina to soak up the blood. Mainstream tampons have some risk of causing bodily harm, such as TSS (toxic shock syndrome) as many are soaked in bleach.
The Tampon Tax is the 5% tax on tampons and towels in Britain since 1973, which means sanitary products are still considered a luxury item – whilst men’s razors are not. This leaves many underprivileged people without period protection.
OHNE is a bespoke, 100% organic tampon subscription service. They cater to the fact that all periods and cycles are unique. Customers can choose their tampon type, total tampon number per period, absorbency range & delivery cycle and delivery dates – and 5% of the revenue goes towards improving menstrual health and education in Zambia!
What are some alternative sanitary options?
Pads – worn on the lining of underwear, sold as either disposable or reusable depending on the material used.
Menstrual cups – inserted into the vagina and catches the blood in a cup, cannot be worn during penetrative sex.
Sponges – inserted into the vagina, sitting at the base of the cervix, can be worn during penetrative sex – does not work as a method of contraception.
Discs – similarly to sponges, menstrual discs sit just past the vaginal canal and can be worn during penetrative sex – is not a method of contraception.
How do periods affect sex?
Menstruation affects people’s sexual hormones differently. Many can experience dramatic mood swings effecting desire and varying levels of sexual libido, all depending on the time of the month.
Studies have shown that peak arousal levels are at ovulation. This is when you’re at your most fertile, around day 14 of your cycle.
Leah at Ohne explains:
“On day 14, the mature egg is released and it travels down your fallopian tube. Your body releases the hormone progesterone which prevents the body from expelling the uterus lining, making sure it stays a nice comfy place for the egg to live. (Progesterone actually means ‘for pregnancy’ pro-gestation).”
“Many [people] experience PMS symptoms (acne, mood swings, irritability, bloating, anxiety). This is because your body realises it’s not pregnant and your progesterone and oestrogen levels are both at their lowest.”
Despite this drop in sex hormones, many people in our study reported that they felt just as highly sexually driven, if not more, before, during and after their period.
“Luckily, your period arrives and actually often relieves the symptoms [of PMS] (one good thing about having a period!)”
As the uterus fills with blood, this puts pressure on nerve endings in the clitoris and vulva, stimulating arousal and increases desire to masturbate and have sex.
2. How much do you like period sex?
We asked you bloody gorgeous people (of all genders and sexualities) to rate how much you like period sex. 0 being “bubble-bath”, and 10 being “blood-bath”.
The majority landed on the midway point of 5 (a nosebleed-in-the-bath?), neither loving nor hating it.
Out of the 60 responses, 36.7% voted more against and 40.1% had fewer issues with it. For those more on the keen side – or just need a little guidance – why not read our tips on How To Have Great Period Sex. Period.
3. Why might you choose not to have period sex?
From our survey on period sex we received many different reasons for why you might choose not to have period sex.
Depending on what day of the cycle and how heavy the flow is, messiness was the top reason for not wanting to have period sex. With this in mind, blood can and does end up in the most unexpected and unwanted places…
“The last time I had period sex, it was a real bloodbath. I’m usually more contained but after the act, there was blood everywhere – on my face, the white pillows, the wall, my armpit…eeysh.”
There can be physical symptoms of sensitivity that just make some people recoil at any kind of sexual contact during their period. These could be a tender cervix and breasts, too sensitive nipples, or feelings of bloat and discomfort.
A phobia of blood is called vasovagal syncope affecting 3-4% of the population, yet up to 15% faint at the sight of blood. This is due to the fight or flight response where blood pressure spikes in brain and then drops quickly. Scientists have not found an evolutionary reason why.
“My boyfriend literally runs to the toilet in fear if he sees blood.”
“I had one boyfriend who…would only have sex on my period in the shower. And even then once he almost passed out when he saw the blood and had to sit down with his head in his hands for 10 minutes. I thought this was hilarious.”
Even though period blood is different from normal blood, if you are part of the 15% who faint avoiding period sex might be a good idea. However, we have some tips for the faint-hearted who are still keen to have great period sex.
“Depends how far along my period I am. If I’m having a heavy period I don’t have sex because blood freaks me out.”
Yes, periods can be pretty icky, there can be clots and blobs and it can be a lot more textural and thicker than normal blood. Some people may find this a little off-putting in the bedroom, especially those who’ve never had periods and are therefore less desensitised as they don’t have to see it every month.
“It’s fine when blood belongs to him or other people. But when it’s from my vagina for some reason he’s on a one-way train to vom-city.”
“The first time I had sex with a guy when I was on my period was when I didn’t notice, neither of us did, but then in the morning when we realised and there was dried blood on his dick he ran to the toilet to throw up……”
Some of you said you “haven’t tried period sex for fear of embarrassment”, or you choose to avoid it particularly on “heavy flow days” for fear of judgement from a partner.
“I probably wouldn’t feel comfortable having sex with someone for the first time when I’m on my period – it feels like something you would do with a more regular partner.”
4. What are some common misconceptions and myths surrounding period sex?
Protects from pregnancy
Period sex is not a viable method of contraception. You can still get pregnant as sperm can stay living in the uterus for up to a week.
Not only that, but the cervix is more open during this time, making it easier for the little guys to find an egg that will be released in the fertile days following menstruation.
Protects from STIs
The risk of contracting an STI is actually higher as the cervix sits lower down and is more open. The blood can also act as a carrier for viruses and bacteria.
In this Vice article on whether couples who bleed together stay together, Laura Bell interviewed same-sex couples who have periods, and found that some people were adamant that syncing is indeed a real phenomenon.
While, there have been studies that have sought to disprove this, there is no definitive evidence one way or another. Either way, if you aren’t having period sex – there is a possible window of 2 weeks out of every month of having no sex! That’s practically half of a relationship if you are both bleeders!
“I like sex a lot so don’t fancy missing out on 2 weeks of sex due to periods even if it’s a bit messy and I sometimes have less sensation.”
Periods are dirty
Some respondents expressed that “it just feels unclean”, “it’s unhygienic” or it’s “impure”, sadly this is an idea that is repeatedly perpetuated in society.
However, menstruation is actually super clean. So clean, in fact, that some regard it as “Mother nature’s juice cleanse”. Unlike urine and faeces, there aren’t actually any toxins in period blood. This is the because the lining of the womb must be clean enough for a baby to grow.
5. Are there any benefits to having sex on your period?
Leah at OHNE explains that…
…”having an orgasm is actually one of THE best ways to shut down cramps. Orgasms release chemicals and hormones in your body that help relax your uterus, including oxytocin, our body’s natural pain reliever which is actually much more powerful than the pills you might usually pop. If you haven’t got a willing partner to test this tip out on, give yourself a little love – orgasms aren’t exclusive to sex.”
Because of the increase in blood flow to the vulva’s nerve endings this can increase arousal, making sex feel really good.
“Its erotic, sensual and I’m more turned on during my period.”
You don’t have to worry about vaginal dryness with period sex, and it can add a whole new sensation to your experience.
“Sex is sex. Period sex is just better lubricated.”
“If your grossed out let’s pretend it’s cherry lube.” – Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, TV series.
This gives a whole new meaning to Katy Perry’s, lyrics “I kissed a girl and I liked it, the taste of her cherry chap stick”…
Creates a stronger connection
Menstruation can be a quite vulnerable time for a person, and if you are open to exploring each others bodies sexually, this can create a deeper intimacy between partners.
“My girlfriend once got her period just as she climaxed when she was riding my hand and it was both a bit hilarious and also kind of cool?”
Yes, we think that’s pretty cool too! We also like this piece of advice…
“Don’t knock it until you try it, as long as both partners are comfortable then it’s okay.”
If you want more bloody anecdotes, or if period sex seems to float your boat down the red river, read our tips on How To Have Great Period Sex. Period.
*Trans men can still have periods; many trans women have reported they also experience common symptoms of periods without the menstruation; most cis women who have gone through menopause do not have periods; certain contraception methods can also inhibit periods.