What's Up with Period Sex?
By Luna Matatas
Whether you menstruate or have sex with people who menstruate, or both - how do you feel about period sex?
There might be parts of period sex that turn you on and parts that turn you off. It’s also possible to feel ambivalent about it or have a differing opinion than your partner. It can be tough to untangle our authentic feelings about period sex from the shame society has taught us about menstruation.
Menstruating bodies have commonly been perceived as unhygienic, dirty or gross. Try exploring these learned ideas with questions like:
- What makes me uncomfortable? Is it blood? Scents? The idea of it? Mess?
- Do I need more information?
- Do I feel it’s dangerous or unsafe for me or my partner?
- Is it important to me or my partner to explore period sex?
Once you get curious about the ideas you hold, you may discover opportunities for pleasure you didn’t think were possible or you might discover ways to communicate about period sex that aren’t filled with shame.
Is period sex safe?
Bacterial and viral sexually transmitted infections are possible during period sex, becaue blood is a body fluid (like semen and vaginal fluids). Sexually transmitted viruses that are blood-borne, like HIV and Hepatitis, are possible during period sex. If you’re having unprotected period sex, other sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia, herpes, HPV and others are also possible.
Pregnancy is still possible during menstruation, though it’s not an ideal time if you are trying to get pregnant.
Discuss what barriers you and your partner are comfortable using. You might choose to use barriers like condoms, nitrile gloves or dental dams to help manage blood. Put down a towel or an absorbent bed pad to protect your sheets from blood stains.
Are there benefits to period sex?
Orgasms release the body’s natural painkillers and help with relaxation. Some people enjoy the extra lubrication that blood provides during menstrual sex.
Other people might enjoy a feeling of increased freedom, arousal or deeper intimacy from having sex during menstruation.
What if I don’t feel sexy when I menstruate?
That’s ok! You don’t have to enjoy menstrual sex. You also have the option to:
- Not have sex during your period
- Choose which sexual activities you want on or off the menu for period sex
Every body is different. Check-in with yourself, do you want to feel sexy but you feel ashamed or dirty? Do you want to feel sexy but the mess bothers you or your partner? Do you simply feel unsexy? Any answer is ok.
What if I’m not into having sex with someone who’s on their period?
It’s also ok to not want to have sex with someone who is menstruating. People aren’t into period sex for lots of reasons:
- Blood smell, taste or mess/stickiness
- Uneasiness about blood
- Safety concerns with bodily fluids
- Ick factor
If your reason is the ‘ick factor’, it’s worth exploring. You have an opportunity to unpack any learned shame. As yourself:
- Are you uncomfortable with all blood or menstrual blood specifically?
- Is the idea of menstruation ‘gross’ to you?
- Are you worried about increased risk of infections?
- Are you worried about the mess? Barriers like condoms and dental dams, sex tampons (menstrual sponges), some menstrual cups can help reduce or minimize blood mess.
It’s not ok to expect the menstruating period to just pleasure you without you giving anything back (unless they find that sexy too). Discuss what pleasure would feel good for both of you.
What is menstrual eroticism?
Menstrual eroticism is creating erotic experiences that involve menstruation or menstrual blood. Examples include:
- Body stamping with blood
- Arousal to blood scent (metallic, iron-rich scent), taste or texture
- Fantasies with primal, womb, divine feminine themes
- Fetishes for objects associated with periods like tampons
- Oral sex on menstruating vaginas
- Menstrual sex as a bucket list item (getting your ‘red wings’)
Explore how you feel about period blood and then see how it feels when you imagine it in an erotic way. Is the consistency, smell or visual of the blood erotic for you? Is the idea of seeing your blood on your partner’s face, body or fingers sexy? Does it make you feel more dominant or submissive? You might discover a period sex fantasy!
Talk to your partner about period sex.
When you explore what makes you uncomfortable about period sex, you open up conversations with your partner that can lead to more pleasure and less shame.
You can find ways to make period sex more comfortable, depending on where your discomfort lies. Or you might decide to meet each other’s needs by doing different things during menstruation. Vulvas are only one erogenous zone - periods can be an opportunity to focus attention and erotic energy on other erogenous zones.
It’s ok not to want to have sex if you’re menstruating and it’s also ok to not want to have sex with someone who is menstruating. What’s important is to communicate without shame, by using empathy and self-awareness.