Though we’ve entered a new realm of period positivity in recent years, period sex is a highly divisive topic. Some women swear by it (myself included), while the idea of getting it on during Shark Week dials up the ick-factor for others. I get it.
That said, there are so many amazing stats on and benefits to having sex during menstruation. More often than not, I’ve found my partners amenable to having sex during my period. They’ve fingered me, engaged in penetrative sex or performed oral sex on my clit, focusing efforts primarily on the outside. I’m happy, they’re happy and we don’t let this natural monthly occurrence get in the way too much.
If you’re squeamish about blood, there are ways to mitigate the mess. Wearing a menstrual cup is one option. Here’s everything you need to know about getting down and dirty while wearing a menstrual cup.
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Period sex can be amazing
When you’re riding the crimson wave, your estrogen and testosterone levels increase, which lead to amped-up arousal. I’ve found that harnessing that energy into an orgasm (or five) provides way more period relief than popping a Midol.
Most menstrual cups aren’t designed for penetrative sex
There are numerous menstrual cups that are not designed for penetrative sex — things can get a little crowded in there with some designs. So be sure to read up on your cup of choice (most brands are super cool about letting you know if your cup is not a period sex ride or die!) and check in with how your body/your partner’s body is feeling before having penetrative sex wearing one.
However, there are some cool designs on the market that are greenlit for penetration. Intimina has their Ziggy Cup, a stem-free menstrual cup, which is basically the answer to penetrative period sex prayers. Its flat design sits right under the cervix and feels much like a diaphragm (but doesn’t leak).
“Ziggy also has the added benefit of keeping things comfortable, because unlike tampons, it isn’t absorbent,” as Amandine Pranlas-Descours, former global brand director of Intimina told SheKnows in 2018. “During your period, you’re still producing much-needed moisture (aka discharge) in addition to your menstrual fluid, so everything stays lubricated and your flow is cleared out of the body easier.”
But they do make for great mess-free oral sex
That said, if you really want to go for it with a cup in, Cathy Chapman, president of Lunette (a company that makes menstrual cups) tells SheKnows that she recommends having oral sex: “Not only does it feel amazing (all the blood flow in your vagina makes things extra sensitive and pleasurable), you and your partner don’t have to be concerned over period leakage if that bothers you.”
Practice makes perfect
It can take a bit of practice to figure out the perfect positioning for your cup, so Pranlas-Descours also says the first few times you use a menstrual cup, you might want to put a towel down just in case.(PSA: Sex towels are a sacred BFF for period sex.)
“Every vagina is different just like every body is different, and it’s always good to get a little more familiar with your own body,” she says. “Most important is to find your cervix to figure out how far you need to insert the cup. The back rim of the cup needs to go below and past the cervix (basically, the end of the vagina) while the front rim tucks into place behind the pelvic bone, right near the G-spot. Really, what you’re doing is wedging the Ziggy Cup [or other menstrual cup] between the back wall of the vagina and the pelvic bone so it cups your cervix. It kind of clicks into place and stays there until you’re ready to remove [it].”
There are less messy alternatives to penetrative sex
And if blood on the sheets turns your stomach (no judgments!), Chapman suggests shower sex or using sex toys that are made of washable, medical-grade silicone as alternatives. She loves Dame Products’ Eva (as do I), a hands-free toy that’s great for couples. And as much as I love assuming a women-on-top position during penis-in-vagina sex, I avoid it during my period strictly to avoid an unnecessary bloodbath. Also, I really like my bed linens — and hate doing laundry.
Chapman adds, however, that you should never be ashamed of having your period or period sex, since the mess is part of the very human experience of sex in general: “Sex is messy anyway, so embrace your flow and have open talks with your partner about it.”
Menstrual cups do not double as contraception
Menstrual cups may provide a barrier from blood, but they don’t block sperm. Despite common misconception, you can still get pregnant during your period. If you’re not on any kind of hormonal contraception, you should still use a condom or other viable form of birth control.
Minimal-commitment menstrual cups
If you’re still on the menstrual cup fence, consider trying out a cup designed for beginners like Intimina’s Lily Cup — it’s super soft, made of medical-grade silicone and doesn’t have the steep price tag that some other cups have. You get to see if you vibe with the fit, function while taking the sustainable, long-lasting period care method for a low-risk test run.
Are menstrual cups a good fit for everyone? Probably not, but a lot of people who menstruate love them. And while traditional menstrual cups aren’t meant to be used during sex, there are options out there designed for that purpose. Regardless of your choice of period product or whether or not you opt for getting it on during that time of the month, make sure you’re safe, comfortable and healthy, and do your thing!
A version of this story was published May 2018.
Before you go, check out 69 of our favorite sex positions to add to your bucket list (thank us later!):