Sex During Periods: Infection Risk

Whether you're into it or not, period sex is safe from a medical perspective. For those with a flow, there is no evidence that having intercourse during your period is harmful.

Typically, the only barrier to sex during a period is personal comfort. Having period sex may be beneficial to the person menstruating. It can reduce painful cramps through orgasms and release feel-good hormones.

This article discusses what you need to know about having safe period sex, free from unwanted pregnancy and infection risk.

A couple in bed

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Infection Risk During Your Period

Men and women alike can still catch or transmit a sexually-transmitted infection (STI) during period sex. Bleeding does not mitigate the risk. Some viruses, like HIV and hepatitis, live in the blood, so there's a higher risk of STI transmission.

Contact with menstrual blood carrying HIV or hepatitis can spread the virus. The safest way to prevent STIs during period sex (and in general) is through consistent barrier use like condoms, dental dams, or female (internal) condoms.

Changes in the cervix and pH balance of the vagina during menstruation can make women more susceptible to bacterial and viral infections.

How to Prevent STI Transmission

Everyone who is sexually active is at risk of contracting STIs. While abstaining from all intimate contact is the only way to avoid getting STIs altogether, it's not very reasonable. Here are medically-backed tactics to help keep sex safe.

  • Frequent STI testing
  • Mutually monogamous sexual relationships
  • External condoms
  • Communication
  • Set and uphold personal boundaries
  • Consider vaccinations

Signs of an STI

As taboo as they still are, STIs are very common. In 2018, 26 million new cases were diagnosed in the United States.

Signs and symptoms of STIs range in severity and length. While some infections are asymptomatic, common symptoms to look out for in the genital region include:

When to Get Tested for STIs

Diagnosing and treating STIs early is crucial in preventing more serious medical complications and managing transmission to future sexual partners. Other common genital conditions, like yeast infections, allergic reactions, or bacteria vaginosis, share similar symptoms.

Set up an appointment with your healthcare provider if you experience any unusual symptoms in the genital area or you suspect a sexual encounter was risky or condomless. They will ask about your sexual-health history and perform a physical examination before deciding what tests to order or samples to collect for a lab test.

Make a plan with your healthcare provider about checkups and potential re-testing if you feel you've been exposed but render negative test results.

Some viruses won't show up soon after exposure. For instance, it takes at least two weeks and as many as three months for herpes to show a positive test result. HIV antibodies can be detectable in the blood two to six weeks after exposure but can take up to three months.

Sex and Periods: Other Things to Consider

Period sex can be fun, beneficial, and even more enjoyable to some. Besides understanding safe period sex practices, there are a few other things to consider.


While the odds of conceiving during your period are pretty low, you can still get pregnant.

The peak ovulation window is about 12 to 14 days before your period. Viable sperm can live inside a woman's reproductive tract for three to five days after sexual intercourse. Therefore, you can conceive if you have a shorter than average menstrual cycle and begin ovulating shortly after your period.

If you are actively trying to avoid pregnancy, it's best to use a barrier method during period sex.

Potential Benefits

For some women, having sex during their period can bring heightened pleasure. For starters, blood is a natural lubricant. And while it's not well medically recorded, hormones at play during the days leading up to one's period could garner a spike in libido. Some other benefits of period sex include:

  • Relief from cramps
  • Ease migraines
  • Shorten period
  • Reduce stress
  • Improve sleep


Period sex has many benefits, such as stress relief, shortened periods, and better sleep. However, period sex does not exclude anyone from getting pregnant or contracting/transmitting STIs. The safest way to prevent STIs during period sex (and in general) is through consistent barrier use like external condoms, dental dams, or internal condoms. See your healthcare provider if you experience unusual genital symptoms or have had condomless sex.

A Word From Verywell

When it comes to safe period sex, it's all about preference. Those with periods, be honest with yourself. Would it be better for your body to rest? Are you feeling turned on? These answers can change, so consistently check in with yourself. Period sex can be enjoyable and even create a bonding experience if you and your sexual partner communicate openly and honestly.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can you get a UTI from period blood?

    Scented tampons and pads can irritate the vaginal tissue and reduce its pH balance. But, typically no, personal hygiene, sexual activity, pregnancy, and genetics are more likely to contribute to UTIs than period blood.

  • Does period blood contain bacteria?

    Yes. Period blood contains natural bacteria from the vagina and cervix, among other components like blood and uterine endometrial tissue. This is the same healthy and regulating bacteria that lives inside the vaginal canal during different parts of a woman's cycle.

  • Can a man get sick from period blood?

    Period blood, just like all blood, can contain bloodborne pathogens. Consuming period blood (during oral sex) or getting it in an open wound comes with a risk of transferring or contracting known or unknown bloodborne illnesses.

11 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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