Periods and sex: What you need to know

By Elaina Verhoff

Health & Wellness | Apr 20, 2012 3:13 AM

Does the mere mention of periods and sex in the same sentence make you cringe? You may be surprised to know that sex during your period can be extremely pleasurable – and it doesn't have to involve plastering your bed with old towels. If you think you might be willing to give it a try, or if you're just plain curious, here's everything you need to know to enjoy lovemaking all month long.

couple in bed

Let communication flow

You and your partner have a romantic getaway planned. The morning you're set to leave... surprise! Aunt Flo comes knocking at your door. What's a girl to do? Well, take those cute white shorts out your bag, for starters. But don't forgo your romantic weekend entirely just because you're riding the cotton pony. Talk to your partner and find out if he might be interested in making love while you have your period. If he has concerns, find out what they are and how you might be able to address them.

Keep it clean

Chances are, the mess factor is your number one concern, and the reason why you and your partner may retreat to your own side of the bed during high tide. The prospect of bleeding during intercourse doesn't paint a pretty picture – especially if you tend to have heavy periods. Did you know there's a period protection option that is compatible with sex? The menstrual cup is inserted entirely inside the vagina to catch your menstrual flow, and it can be worn for up to 12 hours. According to the makers of the Softcup menstrual cup, you can have clean, comfortable sex after inserting a new Softcup just prior to intercourse.

Sex with benefits

If cramping is an issue for you during your period, you might think having sex would only exacerbate the pain. Instead of popping a pain reliever and curling up into a cramped up little ball, try a little lovemaking.

According to Dr. Laura Berman, Assistant Clinical Professor of OB-GYN and Psychiatry at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago, "Sex while you are menstruating can help ease the symptoms of PMS if you achieve orgasm." Berman explains, "an orgasm releases endorphins, natural painkillers and mood enhancers, which can help with the cramps, headaches, mild depression, and irritability sometimes associated with periods."

Safe sex

Unless you're trying to get pregnant, don't make the mistake of having unprotected sex during your period. Just because you're flowing doesn't mean you aren't ovulating. Take the same precautions you normally would, and use appropriate birth control while making love during your period.

Dr. Berman notes that it's especially important to have safe sex during your period because you're at greater risk for giving and receiving sexually transmitted diseases while menstruating. She explains that the cervix opens to allow blood to pass through, which creates a pathway for bacteria to travel deep inside the pelvic cavity. Dr. Berman also notes that during menstruation, a woman is at greater risk of developing yeast or bacterial infections due to the vagina's pH being less acidic at that time.

More on having sex during your period

Sex during your period
Is it OK to have sex during your period: The best sex of your life
Can you get pregnant during your period