This Is What Happens to Your Body When You Have Sex on Your Period
The topics of sexual and vaginal health need to be discussed openly and freely—after all, this is our health we’re talking about, and keeping it under wraps because it might seem off-limits or embarrassing is impractical at the very best and dangerous at the very worst. Whether those topics are related to birth control, consent, menstruation, or masturbation doesn’t necessarily matter. What does matter is that we feel safe and capable to talk about it, ask questions, receive answers, and voice concerns. And if there's one sexual and vaginal health topic that we need to discuss more often (and that's rarely acknowledged), it's period sex.
According to a recent survey, which was conducted by the women’s health brand, INTIMINA, more women are engaging in period sex than you might have previously thought. The global survey, which took responses from over 500 women between the ages of 18 and 50, found that 82% of women have sex on their period. Some of them claim they orgasm better while menstruating, and even though 57% of women mind the mess that period sex causes, 74% still do it in bed.
After learning about those results, we had some questions—namely, is it safe to have sex on your period? Does it affect menstruation in any way? Keep reading to find out answers to all of these questions and more, straight from Dr. Alyssa Dweck, New York OBGYN and INTIMINA’s women’s sexual and reproductive health expert.
Is it safe to have sex while on your period?
Let’s get the most important concern out of the way, first. Yes, it’s safe to have sex while on your period. However, according to Dr. Dweck, there are some caveats. The first of which is the risk of pregnancy.
We know what you’re thinking—your period is the process of your uterus shedding its lining, which means ovulation should have already ended, right? The answer, according to Dr. Dweck, is not necessarily. “It is much less likely to get pregnant during menses (but not impossible),” she explains. In other words, birth control is still necessary. “Occasionally, for women with irregular menses, ovulation might occur while bleeding is present, in which case, contraception is always recommended.”
Something else that’s necessary is your typical STD prevention methods, since according to Dr. Dweck, “Some infections are transmitted through blood," which can be spread more easily when you're on your period. So make sure to use condoms when you're having sex. But that's not the only thing to be mindful of. According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), while your vagina normally maintains a pH level of 3.8 to 4.5 throughout the month, you may be more inclined to receive yeast infections during your period, because yeast can grow due to the higher pH levels that can occur—and it's possible having sex during this time can heighten the symptoms.
Are there any benefits to having sex on your period?
The best part about having sex while on your period is that it could lessen the symptoms and duration of it. “Period sex is proven to help with pain and cramps, and it can even shorten the length of the period because an orgasm can speed up the process of uterus shedding its lining,” Dr. Dweck explains. That’s not the only advantage. “Orgasms are usually more intense on your period, and sexual drive might be higher too.” While there's no definitive reason why this happens, it's been theorized that the rise of hormones (estrogen and testosterone) during ovulation, could be the cause.
How can you have sex during your period without causing a mess?
One of the negative aspects of period sex is the potential mess it could cause. Luckily, Dr. Dweck has a couple of practical solutions. “I recommend going with the flow (no pun intended) and use a dark towel for the mess for sex in bed and also consider shower sex for much less of a mess," she says.
She also recommends investing in a comfortable menstrual cup that can be worn during sex, and for that, there’s only one option, which is INTIMINA’s Ziggy Cup. “It is the first and only reusable menstrual cup that can be worn during sex,” Dr. Dweck says. “It has a leak-proof double rim made of FDA-approved and BPA-free silicone to provide up to 12 hours of protection.” One of the reasons why you can use this menstrual cup during sex is its flat structure and its petal-thin silicone texture.
However, whether you decide to have sex with or without a menstrual cup, it's important to be transparent and honest with your partner about your period before you have sex. "Always to be sure to warn your partner that you have your period. Otherwise, they may be concerned or shocked once they see the blood," Dr. Dweck says. And if you're wearing a tampon, make sure to remove it. While the above cup might be safe to use during sex, tampons are not, as they can be shoved up your cervix and cause an infection.