Many women question if periods are a full stop for sexual intercourse with their partners. Can women continue to have sex during menstruation? The short answer is yes, but do remember that it comes with some important caveats.
Many of the considerations about pregnancy and infection seem the same and do not change. Other factors must also be considered while taking sex during periods into account. Your ultimate objective should be to make the experience free from discomfort and unease. Here, we talk about the common questions that women have regarding sex during periods. Read on to know more about this.
Is Sex During Periods Safe?
Should sex during menstruation be allowed? The risk of infection, do note, is the same as other times. But sexual intercourse during your periods can have benefits, too. Let’s get to the risks first. There is a risk of infection during vaginal, oral, or anal sex or, indeed, any form of skin-based genital contact. This rule applies even during periods.
Unless you use birth control or have a same-sex partner, the chances of getting pregnant during your periods also remain high. Remember that sex during periods may be messy, but it is safe in other ways, provided you and your partner use protection. It can even offer relief from menstrual cramps!
Upsides of Sex During Periods
Engaging in sex with your partner during periods has its advantages. Here are the most important ones.
1. Relief from Cramps
Orgasms and sexual activity release the tension, which causes menstrual cramps(1). The cramps are a result of the uterus contracting to eliminate its lining when the egg does not fertilize. During an orgasm, the uterine muscles contract.
Then, they release to bring you the much-needed relief from period cramps. Sex also triggers feel-good chemicals known as endorphins. Engaging in sexual activity can provide a psychological boost and take your mind off the pain.
[ Read: Natural Remedies for Cramps ]
2. Shorter Periods
Sex can make periods shorter. Muscle contractions at the time of an orgasm push the contents of the uterine lining out quicker. This shortens your periods.
3. Improved Libido
During the menstrual cycle, your sex drive changes, thanks to fluctuations in hormonal levels. While sex drive rises for many women during ovulation, just two weeks before the period, others report heightened libido during menstruation.
4. Natural Lubricant
Another good part is that blood acts as a natural lubricant during the periods when you have sex. It’s smoother and more comfortable in that way.
[ Read: Treatments for Period Cramps ]
5. Headache Relief
Most women report migraine headaches during this period subside if they engage in sex. While many women avoid sex during menstrual migraine attacks, others say it partially or entirely relieves the pain.
Downsides of Sex During Menstruation
The biggest turn-off is that it can get messy during the periods if you have sex, and that can take the fun out of the act. Another big problem is the risk of STDs like HIV or hepatitis. Viruses live in the blood. They spread through contact with infected menstrual blood. Using condoms during menstrual sex can cut down on catching or spreading STIs.
Additionally, don’t forget to remove the tampon before having sex. A forgotten tampon may require surgery if you don’t take it out before engaging in sex. More so, if you don’t want to get pregnant, don’t think your periods will protect you.
Use protection, no matter what period of the cycle you are in. Chances of conceiving may be lower during periods. But, it is still a remote but potential possibility you may get pregnant during this time.
Pregnancy is most likely during ovulation, 14 days before the period starts. Do understand every woman’s cycle length differs. Your cycle length can change monthly. With shorter menstrual cycles, risks of pregnancy during periods are higher. The sperm stays alive for seven days. So, if there is a 22-day cycle, and ovulation follows the periods, the egg is released while the sperm is in the tract. So, do opt for protections.
Protection during sex guards against STD(2). Remember, you can also transmit STD to your partner, and not just catch the infection.
[Read: Do’s and Don’t After Sex]
Do’s and Don’ts
Have your partner wear a latex condom to reduce the odds of pregnancy and STI. Check regarding other forms of protection you can use. Ask your doctor or pharmacists for recommendations. Follow these tips to make menstrual sex safe and secure:
- Communicate with your partner openly and honestly. If either of you doesn’t like the idea of sex during periods, talk about the levels of discomfort before actually going ahead with it.
- Always remove your tampon during period sex.
- Spread a dark cloth or towel on the bed or have sex in the shower to avoid a mess.
- Keep washcloths or wet wipes to clean up afterward, once you’re done.
- If you find a sexual position uneasy, try a different one that works for you.
- Remember to wear protection. Two types of infections can occur at the time of sexual activities: STDs and problems due to changes in vaginal flora, like bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections. CDC recommends that 20 million new STIs are transmitted annually in the US. Don’t be another of those numbers.
- Use barrier methods such as condoms or even dental dams. These methods serve to ensure a lower risk of infections and unwanted pregnancy when used correctly.
- According to the American College of Gynecologists & Obstetricians, most women have a 28-day menstrual cycle. This does not mean you cannot get pregnant during periods. The length of the cycle also can vary, sometimes from 26-32 days.
- Remember that the most fertile time of the menstrual cycle is between days 8 and 19. Also, an egg can stay alive and easy to impregnate in a fallopian tube for 24 hours.
- Sperm can live for 3-5 days post ejaculation in the body. Women can be fertile, without knowing it, during the periods.
- Sex during menstruation has its upsides and downsides. Lie on one side or opt for a disposable menstrual cup or condom or positions like the missionary posture for reduced messiness during period sex.
- Disposable menstrual cups are easy to use during penetrative sex.
Safe sex is essential, no matter what time of the month it is. Guard yourself against menstrual discomfort, infections, or even undesired pregnancies by engaging in protected sex during periods. Women need to be clear that they are comfortable participating in the act of making love, as much as their partners, during menstruation. Both parties should be aware that things can get messy, and if this does not pose a deal-breaker, be sure to go ahead and enjoy the experience.