Period Sex: Can You Have Sex On Your Period?

It's safe to have sex during your period, but you need to practice safe sex

Table of Contents
View All
Table of Contents

Yes, you can have sex on your period. There is no scientific evidence that having sex during menstruation is harmful to your health.

Some people find that having sexual intercourse while they are on their period has benefits, like helping with period symptoms. Some people find period sex more pleasurable than sex at other times of the month.

That said, it's always important to practice safe sex—whether you're menstruating or not. You can get pregnant if you have during your period. You can also get sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

This article will go over the benefits of "period sex," the safety considerations to keep in mind if you have sex while you're menstruating, and how to make having period sex less messy.

Romantic couple looking into each others eyes outdoors at night
Hero Images / Getty Images

Benefits of Period Sex

Having sex while you're on your period can trigger physiological changes in your body that may have several benefits.

Cramp Relief

Period cramps happen because your uterus is contracting. The contractions help it shed its lining, which you see as the blood that comes out during your period.

Some people with a uterus find that orgasms help relieve menstrual cramps. Orgasms cause the uterine muscles to contract and then release, which eases the constant tension.

Sex also triggers feel-good endorphins, which can help take your mind off period pain and discomfort.

A Shorter Period

Muscle contractions during orgasms help clear the contents of your uterus. In theory, you could have a shorter period if your uterine lining was shed faster. However, there's no scientific evidence to back up this claim.

Headache Relief

Headaches are a common period symptom related to hormonal shifts. Studies have shown that sexual activity may relieve headaches.

Researchers don't know why, but they think the rush of endorphins during sex helps to numb headache pain.

Lubrication

If your vagina is dry, menstrual flow can act as a natural lubricant. This can make sex more comfortable and reduce the need for store-bought lubrication products.

Safety Considerations for Period Sex

While it's safe to have sex while you're menstruating, you still need to practice safe sex. This means protecting yourself from pregnancy, STIs, and other risks.

Pregnancy Risk

Your chances of getting pregnant are different depending on where you are in your cycle. While you may not be as likely to get pregnant if you have sex on your period, it's not impossible.

Some people have shorter menstrual cycles or menstrual irregularities that affect when ovulation (the release of an egg) happens.

In addition, sperm can stay alive in the reproductive tract for up to five days. That means fertilization can occur well after you've had sex.

If you are not trying to get pregnant, make sure you are using contraception when you have sex—even if you're menstruating.

Sexually Transmitted Infections

Sexually transmitted infections (STI) are a major risk of having sex, but having period sex can make them more likely. If a person with HIV or hepatitis has sex while they are menstruating, their partners are at risk because these viruses can be spread through contact with blood.

Changes in the vagina that happen during a period can actually make a person more vulnerable to infections. Having unprotected sex during your period—or any time—increases the risk of other STIs, such as herpes.

If you have period sex, use condoms to guard against catching or spreading an STI.

Tampons

If you've put a tampon in while you're on your period, don't forget to remove it before you have sex. A forgotten tampon can get pushed deeper into the vagina during sex and cause infection.

A tampon that gets lodged deep in the vaginal canal may need to be removed by a provider. If you are not able to remove the tampon yourself, seek medical care right away.

Planning Tips

Having sex during your period can get messy. However, with a little pre-planning, you can minimize the mess and keep the focus on intimacy.

Stick to Light Days

The amount of blood may not bother you and your partner enough to avoid period sex. If it does, think about when your menstrual flow is the lightest.

For example, if you know that you bleed pretty light on days three to five of your period, you may want to have sex on those days instead of on heavier days.

Decrease the Flow 

You may want to try using a menstrual cup—a small, flexible device that is an alternative to tampons and pads—during period sex. The cup collects blood as it passes through the cervix, which reduces how much blood is in your vaginal canal during menstruation. Most reusable cups need to be taken out before sex, but the soft, disposable ones do not. 

Your partner shouldn’t feel the cup and it won't leak. However, some people may feel discomfort using this device during sex; the vagina may feel crowded or cause slight pain.

Ask your provider if your preferred menstrual cup is safe to use during sex. Keep in mind that the cup is not contraception; it will not protect against pregnancy or STIs.

Another option for decreasing menstrual flow is the vaginal contraceptive sponge, which traps blood in the upper part of the vagina like a menstrual cup.

The sponge may not be as effective at collecting blood as a cup, but it might be more comfortable. It also has the added benefit of preventing pregnancy.

A menstrual cup or vaginal contraceptive sponge should be removed right away after sex.

The menstrual cup and contraceptive sponge will not protect you against STIs. Condoms are the best method of protection.

Have Towels and Tissues Handy

Before you have sex, put some towels down to protect your sheets, mattress, or furniture from getting any blood on them. Keep tissues nearby to wipe yourself with when you're done.

Opt for Missionary Position

Lying on your back during sex can reduce blood flow. You might want to be careful about deep penetration because the cervix is lower and more sensitive during menstruation.

If you feel any discomfort or pain during sex, stop and tell your partner. Go slow and communicate to make sure you're both comfortable.

Try Shower Sex

A running shower can help wash away any menstrual flow. You can also have a pleasurable intimate shower session by giving each other a sensual back rub with a soapy sponge.

Rethink Foreplay

If you're worried about you or your partner getting menstrual blood on your hands during foreplay or masturbation, just keep the towels or tissues you set out nearby to clean up.

If you or your partner are uncomfortable about touching blood, you can explore other ways to arouse each other.

Can I Have Oral Sex on My Period?

Having oral sex during your period is safe. If you're worried about leakage, use a menstrual cup, contraceptive sponge, or tampon.

If you don't want to put anything in your vagina, you can also use a dental dam—a square piece of latex that can be purchased or made by cutting a condom. Dental dams also help prevent STIs.

Summary

Period sex is safe and can have benefits like reducing menstrual cramps and headaches and might even shorten your flow.

However, you still need to practice safe sex. You can still get pregnant if you have sex on your period, and the risk of giving, or getting, a sexually transmitted infection, is higher.

If you want to have sex during a period, planning ahead can help make it less messy and ensure that you and your partner are comfortable and safe.

A Word From Verywell

Talk to your partner(s) about period sex. It's not for everyone. Some religious and cultural practices do not permit having sex during menstruation.

A person with certain medical conditions might not want to have sex on their period. In some cases, it's not safe to have sex with someone who is on their period because they may transmit infections through their blood.

While you would expect to see blood if you're having period sex, keep in mind that bleeding during or after sex when you're not menstruating is something to talk to your provider about.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is it safe to have sex on your period?

    It is safe to have sex when you have your period, but you should still practice safe sex. A person can pregnant if they have sex during their menstrual period.

    Likewise, unprotected sex at any time of the month can put you at risk for an STI. In fact, some of them are more likely to happen if you have period sex because they are spread through contact with blood.

  • Can a man get an infection from period blood?

    Some sexually transmitted infections are transmitted by contact with blood, such as HIV and hepatitis B.

    In addition, unprotected sex puts both partners at risk for STIs. That's why it's important to practice safe sex at all times of the month. 

  • Can sex stop period early?

    There is no scientific evidence that having sex makes a person's period lighter or stops the flow. That said, some people who have period sex do feel that it has that effect.

14 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.
  1. Planned Parenthood. Can I have sex during my period? And If I do can I get pregnant?

  2. Verma P, Singh KK, Singh A. Pregnancy risk during menstrual cycle: misconceptions among urban men in IndiaReprod Health. 2017;14(1):71. doi:10.1186/s12978-017-0332-3

  3. Levin RJ. Sexual activity, health and well-being—the beneficial roles of coitus and masturbationSex Relation Ther. 2007;22(1):135-148. doi:10.1080/14681990601149197

  4. Hambach A, Evers S, Summ O, Husstedt IW, Frese A. The impact of sexual activity on idiopathic headaches: an observational study. Cephalalgia. 2013;33(6):384-389. doi:10.1177/0333102413476374

  5. Levin RJ. The ins and outs of vaginal lubrication. Sex and Relation Ther. 2003;18(4):509-513. doi:10.1080/14681990310001609859

  6. Nemours Children's Health. Can a girl get pregnant if she has sex during her period?.

  7. American Pregnancy Association. Determining your fertility window.

  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. STDs and HIV.

  9. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Genital Herpes.

  10. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The lowdown on how to prevent STDs.

  11. National Library of Medicine. Toxic shock syndrome.

  12. Tampax. Worried about a lost tampon or getting a tampon stuck?.

  13. Van Eijk AM, Zulaika G, Lenchner M, et al. Menstrual cup use, leakage, acceptability, safety, and availability: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet Public Health. 2019;4(8):e376-e393. doi:10.1016/S2468-2667(19)30111-2

  14. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How to use a dental dam as a barrier for oral sex.

By Andrea Chisholm, MD
Andrea Chisolm, MD, is a board-certified OB/GYN who has taught at both Tufts University School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School.