Tips for Having Sex During Your Period

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More rumors and myths surround the issue of sex than probably any other topic in the universe. This is why it's smart to listen to science and facts.

For starters, you may be glad to know that no scientific evidence exists showing that having sex during your period is harmful to your health.

Some women even find that having intercourse while menstruating brings several benefits. Among other things, it may be more pleasurable than it is at other times of the month.

It's important to remember, though, that it is possible to get pregnant during your period. Likewise, concerns about sexually transmitted infections don't "go away" while you're menstruating. You should take the same safe-sex precautions as always.

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This article explains the benefits of "period sex," some of the safety considerations you should keep in mind if you have sex during menstruation, and how to plan ahead to reduce some of the messiness you may encounter.

Benefits of Period Sex

Having sex while on your period can trigger physiological changes that have several potential benefits. These include:

Cramp Relief

Cramping during your period occurs because the uterus is contracting to shed its lining.

Many women find that orgasms may relieve menstrual cramps because orgasms cause the uterine muscles to contract and then release. This can ease the constant state of muscle tension during the period.

And, of course, sex triggers feel-good endorphins, which can get your mind off any pain and discomfort.

A Shorter Period

Muscle contractions during orgasms help clear the contents of your uterus.

In theory, this means you could have shorter periods if you're having period sex. Many women swear this is true. Unfortunately, no scientific evidence exists to back up this claim.

Headache Relief

Studies show that sexual activity can partially or completely relieve headaches.

Researchers don't know exactly why this occurs. But they speculate the rush of endorphins during sex helps to numb headache pain.

Lubrication

If your vagina tends to be on the dry side, 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

There are three things you should pay attention to so that sex during your period doesn't result in problems:

Pregnancy Risk

While the chance of getting pregnant during your period is low, it is possible. Some women may have shorter menstrual cycles and/or menstrual irregularities, which may affect when ovulation (the release of an egg) begins.

In addition, sperm can stay alive in the reproductive tract for up to five days. So fertilization may occur well after you might expect it to.

If you aren’t trying to get pregnant, using contraception while you have your period is a smart idea.

Sexually Transmitted Infections

Sexually transmitted infections (STI) are the biggest downside to having sex during a menstrual period. This puts partners at risk of contracting HIV or hepatitis. These viruses can spread during contact with the blood of an infected person, such as exposure to menstrual blood.

Having unprotected sex during your period or at any other time can increase the risk of other STIs, such as herpes, as well. Changes in the vagina during the period can make a woman more susceptible to infections, as well.

Use condoms to guard against catching or spreading an STI.

Tampons

It's important to remember to remove a tampon before having sex. A forgotten tampon can get pushed further into the vagina during sex and potentially cause a bacterial infection.

Also, a tampon that becomes lodged too deep may have to be removed by a healthcare provider.

Planning Ahead

There's no denying that sex during your period can get messy. With a little pre-planning, though, you can minimize the mess and keep the focus on intimacy.

Stick to Light Days

If you know that blood flow on, say, days three to five of your period are light, try having sex on these days.

However, if a heavier flow doesn't bother you or your partner, then disregard the calendar.

Decrease the Flow 

To minimize the amount of blood in your vagina during sex, try using a menstrual cup—a relatively small, flexible device that is an alternative to tampons and pads. It collects blood as it passes through the cervix and keeps the vagina relatively clean.

Most reusable menstrual cups need to be taken out before sex, but the soft, disposable ones do not. Your partner shouldn’t feel the cup, and there shouldn’t be any leaks during intercourse.

However, some women may feel discomfort using this device during sex; the vagina may feel crowded and/or it may cause slight pain.

Confirm with your healthcare provider that your preferred menstrual cup is safe to use during sex. Keep in mind that the cup does not function as contraception; it does not protect against pregnancy.

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

It may not be as effective at collecting blood, but it may 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 (male or female) are the best method for protection.

Have Towels and Tissues Handy

Before having sex, place some towels under you to protect your sheets and mattress. Keep tissues nearby so you can wipe yourself afterwards.

Opt for Missionary Position

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

If you feel any pain or discomfort, tell your partner and proceed slowly.

Try Shower Sex

A running shower can help wash away any menstrual flow as it appears.

It's worth considering that you can have a pleasurable session by forgoing sex and taking turns offering a sensual back rub with a soapy sponge.

Rethink Foreplay

Using your hands during foreplay can be messy when you're menstruating.

If this bothers you or your partner, consider other ways to get each other aroused. (Or return to that sponge in the shower.)

Oral Sex

Having oral sex during your period is safe. But you may wish to use a menstrual cup, contraceptive sponge, or tampon to minimize any leakage.  

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

Summary

Putting personal preferences aside, there are benefits to period sex. It can reduce cramps, result in lighter periods, and provide headache relief. But it's no time to become reckless, either.

You can still get pregnant while you're menstruating. 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 reduce some of the messiness so you can focus on your partner.

A Word From Verywell

Not everyone enjoys period sex, so find out how your partner feels ahead of time. Some religions and cultures frown on intercourse while a woman is on her period. Respecting your partner’s feelings and beliefs is important, and talking about them could even bring you closer.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is it safe to have sex on your period?

    Yes. It is safe to have sex when you have your period. But you should still practice safe sex. A woman can get pregnant from having sex during her menstrual period. Likewise, unprotected sex at any time of the month can put you at risk for an STI.

  • Can a man get an infection from period blood?

    Yes, some sexually transmitted infections are transmitted by contact with blood, such as HIV and hepatitis B. In addition, unprotected sex could put both people at risk for a sexually transmitted infection. It's important to practice safe sex at all times of the month. 

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10 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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