Period Sex—Everything You Need To Know

You don't have to take an entire week off from having sex.

Just because you have your period doesn't mean your sex life needs to take a backseat. But period sex comes with its own unique set of challenges.

While there is absolutely nothing wrong with desiring sex while on your period, it's understandable that you might have some questions, like whether it's OK from a medical perspective, what the pros and cons are of doing it, and how to pull it off without a huge mess (if that bothers you).

Here's what you should know about having sex on your period—the good, the bad, and the slightly messy.

Can You Have Sex on Your Period?

The answer is yes, sex on your period is a go. Some people may worry about it, but from a medical standpoint, there's no reason why you can't have sex on your period.

It's essential to continue wearing a condom if there's a chance you or your partner have a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or if you are concerned about getting pregnant.

Can You Get Pregnant During Your Period?

Technically, you could get pregnant on your period, but it's not very common. You're still rolling the dice if you have unprotected period sex.

Unprotected sex increases the chances of both pregnancy and contracting STIs. So if you are trying to avoid pregnancy, it's important to use some sort of birth control (and especially a condom with someone you're not too familiar with) during sex.

Here's the lowdown: If you have regular periods and are absolutely sure what you're experiencing is your period, the chances of getting pregnant are very low.

But—and this is a big but—if you're having spotting or bleeding from some other cause, that won't necessarily be the case. You can get pregnant if you mistake this type of bleeding for your period and have unprotected sex.

The timing with which you have period sex is also important. If you have sex at the tail end of your period, your partner's sperm may be active inside you for five days. So if you ovulate earlier in your cycle, there is a small chance that you could get pregnant.

Period Sex Benefits

There are quite a few pluses to keep in mind when it comes to having sex while you're menstruating.

Less Painful Cramps

You may experience less painful periods if you have sex during them. This is because period cramps result from your uterus contracting to shed its lining during your cycle.

Having an orgasm triggers the release of endorphins which are small proteins that bind to receptors in the nervous system. Endorphins can relieve pain, which may provide some relief for your menstrual cramps.

Increased Sex Drive

Sometimes, menstruation can also help you get more turned on because of the fluctuations in your hormones. One study found that people who were menstruating had an increased sex drive (also called libido).

Provides Lubrication

Your flow can serve as extra lubrication during sex too, which can also increase pleasure and reduce pain. If you typically use a store-bought lubricant to help with dryness during sex, this may be your week to go natural.

Period Sex Risks

Having sex on your period increases the likelihood that you and your partner may end up a little bloody. If messiness bothers you, period sex can be a challenge.

Increased Risk for Spreading STIs

If you or your partner are positive for an STI that can be transmitted through blood—such as hepatitis or HIV—the possibility of transmitting the disease during your period is increased since there is a presence of menstrual blood, which is made up of blood and tissue from inside the uterus.

Vaginal Dryness

Also important: While having sex on your period might help in the lubrication department, that's only if you haven't used a tampon in a while. If you remove a tampon right before sex, there's a possibility it has already soaked up some of your natural lubrication and dried you out. (Luckily, that's where lube comes into play).

Period Sex Tips

You can just go for it with period sex and deal with the aftermath, but a little extra preparation might make the experience even more enjoyable and comfortable—with less cleanup afterward.

Use a Towel

First things first: Use a towel to help save your sheets. Opt for a dark-colored towel, if you have one, so the situation doesn't look as intense in the aftermath. (However, if that doesn't bother you or your partner, use whatever color towel you'd like.)

If you don't have a towel handy—or at least one that you want to sacrifice—try having sex in the shower, so you don't have anything to clean afterward.

Try Different Positions and Techniques

It's also important to remember you don't have to focus on penetrative period sex. That means the focus can be on the menstruating partner's clitoris.

Or the person menstruating can also help their partner orgasm with manual or oral stimulation. And for those of you still interested in penetrative (but less messy) sex, stick to the missionary position (it can limit blood flow—thanks, gravity!).

Communicate With Your Partner

And, of course, the main part of any positive sexual experience is communication. While your decision to have period sex largely depends on your relationship, giving your partner at least a heads-up you have your period is usually considered a nice gesture.

Don't stop communication once the sex starts. If you tend to have painful periods, some positions with deeper penetration might feel uncomfortable. So keep communication open, even while having sex.

A Quick Review

Having sex on your period can get a little messy, but overall, there's no reason to avoid having sex on your period. If you or your partner have an STI that can be transmitted through blood, there is an increased risk of transmitting the disease during your period, so be sure to use protection.

If you communicate openly with your partner and you're comfortable, there's no reason not to have sex on your period.

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  2. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Dysmenorrhea: painful periods.

  3. National Cancer Institute. Endorphin.

  4. Ojezele MO, Eduviere AT, Adedapo EA, Wool TK. Mood swing during menstruation: Confounding factors and drug use. Ethiop J Health Sci. 2022;32(4):681-688. doi:10.4314/ejhs.v32i4.3

  5. Kennedy CE, Yeh PT, Li J, Gonsalves L, Narasimhan M. Lubricants for the promotion of sexual health and well-being: a systematic reviewSex Reprod Health Matters. 2021;29(3):2044198. doi:10.1080/26410397.2022.2044198

  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What body fluids transmit HIV?

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  8. MedlinePlus. Vaginal dryness.

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