Do NOT Have Period Sex 'Til You've Read These 6 Facts

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Don't Have Period Sex 'Til You've Read These 6 Facts

It can be a whole lot more than you expect.

By Jennifer Garam

Bloating, cramps, aches, crankiness, and, oh yeah, all that blood. When you have your period, the ideal night might sound like popping a few Advil, crawling into bed, and binge-watching Scandal. And although sex might be the last thing on your mind during that time of the month, there's actually no need to rule it out altogether.

Long gone are the days of being relegated to the Red Tent, but unfortunately there's still some lingering stigma and discomfort around period sex, for both women and men. But there shouldn't be.

"It's totally fine from a health point of view, and it really has to do with personal preference and being comfortable with it," says Lauren Streicher, MD, associate clinical professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Northwestern University and author of Sex Rx: Hormones, Health, and Your Best Sex Ever.

Here's what you need to know if you decide to give period sex a go.

1. It could improve orgasm—and ease cramps.


When they're menstruating, women are generally a little more aroused than normal due to their levels of estrogen and testosterone, says Jill Hechtman, MD, Board Certified ob-gyn and medical director of Tampa Obstetrics. There are also other factors that can contribute to increased pleasure at that time. "The blood makes for extra lubrication which can improve the way things feel and improve orgasm," she explains. 

While the ability of orgasm to reduce cramps hasn't been proven in any good scientific study, some women do experience this benefit. So while sex isn't a guaranteed cure for those painful aches, it can certainly be an enjoyable supplement to downing a couple of Advil. 

2. You can still get pregnant.

Just because you have your period doesn't mean that you're in the clear when it comes to pregnancy prevention. "A lot of people think that if they're bleeding they don't need to worry about pregnancy or using protection, and while theoretically that's true, it isn't always the case," cautions Streicher. 

Because sperm can live in a woman's body for up to 5 days, "if you have sex towards the end of bleeding, you can actually conceive 4 or 5 days later if you ovulate early," says Hechtman. "So I wouldn't use that as contraception."

And because some women bleed during ovulation, they may mistake it for their period and end up having unprotected sex during their most fertile window.

3. There's no increased risk of STDs.


Some sources say that the risk of STD transmission could increase during menstruation. One explanation for this is that a woman's cervix is slightly open at this time to let blood out. Streicher explains that, in theory, since STDs like gonorrhea and chlamydia are ascending infections, anything that facilitates them traveling up into the uterus could increase the possibility of transmission—again, in theory. No studies have backed this idea up.

No matter what, it's crucial to remember that just because there isn't necessarily an increased risk doesn't mean that there's no risk. Stick to your typical STD prevention regimen during period sex.

4. There are easy ways to reduce blood flow.

If you're squeamish about having sex while you're bleeding, there are several options for minimizing the flow. One possibility, suggests Streicher, is to put in a tampon before you have sex to soak up some of the blood. But, depending on how heavy your period is, removing the tampon before having sex could result in the drying out of vaginal tissue (and painful sex). She recommends having a lubricant handy, even if you don't ordinarily use one.

And while it may seem obvious, you definitely want to remember to remove the tampon before intercourse. Forgetting to do so could up your risk for infection, says Hechtman. Toxic shock syndrome is the most serious risk, she says, but a foul-smelling vaginal discharge could also result.

Hechtman recommends using a female condom, menstrual cup, or diaphragm as a safe way to inhibit the blood flow during sex.

5. The "messy factor" doesn't have to hold you back.


Hechtman and Streicher both cite the messy factor as one of the most common barriers people face when considering period sex. Even if you take precautions to decrease your flow, you could still ruin your linens. Streicher advises putting down a towel or old blanket. Once you no longer have to worry about staining the sheets, you'll be freed up to focus on your and your partner's pleasure.

6. Don't be afraid to bring it up. 

Just because you've tended to shy away from period sex in the past doesn't mean that it's entirely off the table as an option. "Sometimes it's the guy who's turned off by it, sometimes it's the woman who's turned off by it, and sometimes it's just one thinking that the other one is going to object," says Streicher. You just have to be upfront about it.

"We should remove the stigmas associated with these kinds of conversations," Hectman says, "because if you're comfortable enough to have sex with someone, you should be comfortable enough to talk about things like STDs and having your period."



This article was originally published at Prevention. Reprinted with permission from the author.


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