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Period Sex Is Actually Amazing — Here's Everything You Need To Know About Having It

There's still a lot of stigma attached to period sex — but there doesn't have to be.

Periods are a physiological cycle that the vast majority of people with a uterus experience. Even though it is such a regular part of our everyday lives, religious and social taboos surrounding having sex on your period still linger, and there is a lack of conversation regarding sexual desire during menstruation as a natural, normal function. In fact, the word "taboo" itself originates from the Polynesian word for menstrual blood, "tapua."

Stock image of a menstrual pad with blood on it, pink background

However, despite its many taboos, period sex is not something we should shy away from discussing, especially when it comes to our sexual partner(s). We need to normalize discussing all aspects of healthy sexuality, along with everything that comes with it, including, but not limited to, having sex during periods.

Stock image of a couple embracing and going in for a kiss

So today, let’s break down some of these taboos and take a look at how period sex has (or has not) been discussed over the years, and how that conversation is (hallelujah) finally changing.

First — to really understand what happens with our bodies during our periods, and how it affects sexual activity — we spoke to urologist and sexologist, Dr. Maria (Mafe) Peraza Godoy.

Dr. Maria Peraza Godoy posing for headshot

And we also spoke to sex expert, Michelle Hope, an activist, sexologist, and educator who has worked with many marginalized urban communities to promote a holistic approach to sexual health and sexuality!

Michelle Hope headshot

The experts spoke to us about everything below — and also offered guidance on navigating period sex in general:

• What really happens to your body during your period, and how it impacts your sex drive.

• How mental blocks can translate to physical tension that makes period sex uncomfortable.

• The potential physiological benefits vaginal stimulation and sexual pleasure can have for alleviating period discomfort.

• How the risks of having sex on your period are mostly the same as having sex at any other time.

• Ways to make period sex even more enjoyable — and how to actually put things into practice.

So what really happens to your body during your period? First, let's break down the physiology of the menstrual cycle and how your body changes.

Stock image of a fruit with a red stripe depicting blood

Since progesterone dominates during this period (literally), you may actually feel more aroused. Dr. Godoy calls progesterone the "hot hormone," since it can increase sexual desire.

A human hand putting two fingers into a grapefruit on white background

Part of the mental discomfort around having period sex may stem from concerns about the physiological impact of sex on your period. Dr. Godoy says that if you're concerned about the physiological impact of sex on your period, it's the same as having sex at any other time. "Menstruation doesn't have any negative impact on your body's sexual functions, and vice versa."

For those who find period sex physically uncomfortable, some of that discomfort may come from mental tension translating into your body. Because so many of us are often taught throughout our lives that menstruation is often equated with pain and shame, such narratives can be distracting and cause tension in your body that prevents you from having a good time. As Dr. Godoy bluntly and correctly puts it, "You can't enjoy something if you're distracted."

Stock image of a fruit with a red-like substance dripping out in front of a black background

Mental narratives we grow up with include connecting menstruation with pain, and a lack of positive messaging around the phases of menstruation. According to Dr. Godoy, "The truth is you can have sex during menstruation and unfortunately pleasure is not discussed in most narratives. It's a physiological condition that you should handle the best way for you and if you have problems then you need to consult."

Outside of mental blocks — which are totally real and valid — it's important to note that there are several conditions that can make period sex physically uncomfortable, and this pain and these conditions should never be ignored or brushed aside as "just in your head." Conditions like endometriosis, adenomyosis, fibroids, and any type of pelvic floor dysfunction can absolutely impact how penetrative sex and/or orgasming feels. Intense pain associated with sex or orgasms is never normal and should not be ignored.

However, vaginal stimulation and orgasms can help alleviate painful symptoms for some period-havers! According to several studies, vaginal stimulation has been shown to produce analgesia (pain-relieving effects) in both humans and rats.

A hand grasped against a sheet

Another source of confusion that breeds stigmas around period sex, is a lack of understanding surrounding the risks of pregnancy and STIs. Dr. Godoy and Michelle Hope help us clear it up: Yes, there are risks, but they're the same as having sex at any other time of the month (and yes, you can still get pregnant).

Stock image of a condom on a blue background

So how can we make period sex better? Essentially, it comes down to knowing your body and what makes it feel good — and having a partner(s) that you trust and feel safe with. Dr. Godoy says that, "Period sex done right can serve as an exercise in self awareness because you know your body and your needs."

Stock image of a couple embracing in an intimate embrace

If you're looking for ways to make your period feel less "messy" during intimacy, having the right tools can help. From menstrual discs and menstrual cups, to having towels on hand and exploring in the shower, there are many ways to reduce or even prevent a mess. Again, preparation and communication with yourself and your partner is key.

Stock image of a woman holding a menstrual cup in her hand and squeezing the fruit of a grapefruit into said cup

Period sex is not just about penetration. In fact, sex itself isn't either. Self-love on your period doesn't have to be limited. Hope promotes masturbation as a practice of self-love, and what better time to practice self-love than on your menstrual cycle?

Aubrey Plaza in "The To-Do List" self pleasuring

At the end of the day, whether or not you enjoy sex on your period should be a choice between you and your partner. By opening up the dialogue around period sex, we are normalizing conversation around female bodily functions and sexuality.

Cut pomegranate on a white background. Menstruation concept. Symbol of vagina. Gynecology, female intimate health

What are your thoughts on period sex? Let me know in the comments.