Stop hitting pause during your period week and start scoring these benefits.
If you're like a lot of women, the days when you have your period are off-limits as far as sex goes. And we get why. Period sex can be messy, and not everyone is comfortable dealing with bloody sheets or getting naked during what tends to be a bloated, crampy, unsexy time of the month.
But there are also plenty of reasons to look past those issues. Period sex has some big advantages—and most importantly, it can help you feel good and sexy if you're otherwise feeling crappy. (And certain positions actually minimize the mess while maximizing your pleasure.) Here are five reasons to get it on when you're on the rag.
Sex may help with menstrual cramps
During an orgasm, your pelvic muscles contract and release, which may reduce the pelvic pain and cramping associated with menstruation. “It always amazes me how few people take advantage of sex during their period,” Aline P. Zoldbrod, a psychologist and sex therapist based in Boston, tells Health. “Sex makes you feel good, plus, I think it’s the best thing in the world for your cramps.”
There’s extra lubrication
Some women say sex on their period feels even better than usual, and that they don’t need to worry about dryness or use a personal lubricant. “It can feel really great for both partners because it makes things naturally slippery and wet,” Yvonne Fulbright, PhD, sex therapist and author of The Better Sex Guide to Extraordinary Lovemaking, tells Health. It's a good argument for making shower sex your go-to period sex style, since water is not a good lubricant on its own.
Speaking of lubrication, here’s an important reminder: “If you’re wearing a tampon, make sure you take it out before having sex,” says Lauren Streicher, MD, associate clinical professor of ob-gyn at Northwestern University. “If you don’t, it can get pushed up underneath your cervix and you can forget about it.” That can lead to odor and infection, and may need to be removed by a doctor. Seems like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised by how many women forget. Gynos see it all the time.
Orgasms can be a powerful pain reliever
Along with relieving cramps, orgasms can also be good for the overall discomfort and fatigue that can come along with having your period. Orgasms prompt the release of powerful chemicals called endorphins, which can ease pain and boost your mood—a big plus if your flow makes you draggy, easily irritated, or just crummy in general.
There's another reason orgasms can help you handle pain. A landmark study in the journal Pain in the 1980s found that women’s pain tolerance thresholds increased significantly (by nearly 75%) during orgasm. More recently, a 2013 study in the journal Cephalagia showed that sexual activity could lead to “partial or complete relief” of migraine and cluster headaches in some patients.
It can reduce stress and help you sleep
Those endorphins are also amazing at lowering stress levels: Studies show that couples who have sex more frequently have fewer blood-pressure spikes and healthier reactions to stressful situations. Getting it on with your partner is also a great way to feel closer, strengthen your bond, and feel good about yourself and your body, says Zoldbrod.
Here's another stress-reducing perk. Orgasms also prepare your body for sleep by releasing the hormone prolactin, which may help you get more restorative shuteye. (One thing you should still stress about, though? Using protection. If you’re not currently on hormonal birth control, it is possible to get pregnant, says Dr. Streicher. You may also be at a slightly higher risk for sexually transmitted infections while you’re on your period, as well.)
Your sex drive might be higher during your period
Not all women feel sexy or ready to go during their period. But this point of your cycle can be a time of heightened sexual arousal. Some women say they get turned on more easily, or that sexual stimulation feels better than usual, says Fulbright.
Fluctuating hormones and increased blood flow to the pelvic area may both play a role. (Estrogen and testosterone are low on day 1 of menstruation, but they start to rise by day 3.) Most research shows that a woman’s sex drive tends to peak around ovulation—usually 10 to 16 days before menstruation starts—but some women also report feeling extra desire during their periods. If you're one of these women, consider taking advantage of the libido boost.