Periods are normal and natural, even when they happen during sex. If you want to have sex, your period shouldn’t be a reason to pass on it.
In a large survey by the period tracking app Clue, only 15% of menstruating women say they keep their typical sex routine on bleeding days. 48% say they avoid genital sexual activity completely while menstruating, while 41% focus on stimulating their partner, not themselves.
Why the pleasure gap? While some people say they get turned on more easily during their period, it’s not a particularly sexy time of the month for everyone. There’s the cramps, bloating, irritability, and fatigue—sure-fire mood-killers—and of course, there’s the risk of destroying your sheets!
The good news: the bothersome symptoms and the blood flow are manageable. Paradoxically, period sex can actually help with both! There are valuable health benefits of period sex, and more good news: they apply whether the sex is partnered or solo.
Natural cramp relief
Period cramps happen when the muscles of the uterus contract so tightly, they close off blood vessels that supply the uterus with oxygen. Since muscles need oxygen to work properly, the lack thereof is painful. During an orgasm, the pelvic muscles contract, followed by a big, relaxing release that can help ease cramping. If cramps are a non-starter for sex to begin with, De Lune Cramp Aid is another natural option for cramp relief.
Orgasms, and the flood of feel-good endorphins that accompany them, are one of nature’s best mood lifters. The release accompanied with orgasm can relive compounded stress, relax the body and mind and reduce the sensation of cramps. If your period mood is preventing you from getting in the mood, De Lune Steady Mood is another natural option for PMS mood swings and stress.
Once a month (if you’re not pregnant), your body deems the lining of your uterus unnecessary, and ousts it. The shedding of the uterine lining is your period, and it happens via the rhythmic tightening and relaxing of the uterine muscles. Your period ends when all the lining has been shed. The tightening and relaxing of the pelvic muscles during an orgasm may speed this process along, helping to expel more lining more quickly (and hopefully more pleasurably).
But what about the mess?
Menstrual discs are a new menstrual hygiene technology that can help.
Menstrual discs are like menstrual cups, with a few key differences. Rather than the rigid cone shape of a cup, discs are flatter, wider, and squishier—similar to a diaphragm. Discs can offer mess-free, penetrative sex because the blood collects in a soft, flexible compartment that sits higher up in the vagina, closer to the cervix. Some people say their partner can feel it a little, others say they don’t notice. Discs are not contraception, and they won’t protect against STIs/STDs. But they do have more blood capacity than the average cup, and some people say their cramps are less intense while wearing one. They come in reusable and single-use varieties, and you can get them at most major drugstores.
If discs aren’t your thing, there’s no shame in free flowing. There are blankets designed specifically for period sex, but a towel works, too. Shower sex is a go-to for many during menstruation, just be sure to use some lube if you have a light flow, as water isn’t great lubrication.
Male or female condoms are a good idea for partnered sex all month long because they’re the only method of contraception that offers a barrier against STIs/STDs. They also double as a blood-to-skin barrier, if touching blood makes you or your partner uneasy or distracted.
So there you have it: period sex could mean a somewhat easier, shorter period. If your period isn’t already a part of your sex life, what’s holding you back?
Courtney Mayszak, RDN, LDN is the co-founder of De Lune, who offer an all-natural line of menstrual relief products.
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