Everything You Need To Know About Getting It On While You're Getting Your Period

period sex
PHOTO: @WEAREHAPPYPERIOD

Having sex on your period means different things to everyone. To some, it's a messy inconvenience; to others, it's a kink; to me, personally, it feels like normal sex just with a little extra clean-up. But whatever your perception is about period sex, it's something we probably don't think about as much as we really should.

There are many pros and cons to having period sex, but there aren't nearly as many cons as society has led us to believe. In fact, there are a lot of advantages to it that we don't talk about enough. But we'll get into that soon enough; first, let's get just a few things out of the way.

One of the biggest myths about period sex is that you can't get pregnant because of it, but that's far from the truth. As much as we'd like it to be the case, menstruation is (unfortunately) not a
contraceptive. Getting pregnant during your period is a lot rarer, sure, as there's a much smaller window for fertilization to take place, but that window is still there. This is because sperm can live inside the uterus for up to 72 hours after sex has occurred. If you have a short menstrual cycle, then, you may go from period to ovulation while that sperm is still alive. This is all well and good if you're planning on getting pregnant anyway, but if you're abstaining from parenthood, just make sure that you're protected and have done some in-depth period cycle math.

So pregnancy can still be an issue when you have period sex, but what about sexually transmitted diseases? Though period sex is perfectly safe, like any other kind of sex, it's safest when you're protected. Condoms and dental dams are a must because studies do show that there is an increased risk of picking up an STI/D when you're on your flow

Now don't get it twisted: Your period blood is not dangerous nor is it gross; it's mostly just a bunch of unfertilized eggs and uterine tissue. The only issue is that this extra blood flow means there's the extra risk of blood-borne bacteria entering your or your partner's body. The extra blood flow can also act as a carrier for such diseases as HIV, but such a phenomenon isn't exclusive to period blood; it's the same thing as having an open wound around your partner.

Your body is also in a more vulnerable place during your period due to how open your cervix is, making you more at risk of picking up a uterine or cervical virus (yikes) during sex. But keep in mind: This applies to unprotected period sex, so just slap on that condom and you're good to go! 

Let's move away from the risks and disadvantages of period sex and focus on its upsides (and bust some more myths while we're at it).

While many people assume that period sex can make cramps worse, it's actually the opposite. Since an orgasm releases the endorphins oxytocin and dopamine into the system, period sex can actually aid in the process of relieving period pain. (It's actually recommended that you have a little kinky fun while you're menstruating.) 

And period sex doesn't just help with cramps: It can ease the pain of virtually everything uncomfortable that's period-related, including back pain, stress, and headaches. A 2013 study involving 800 migraine patients and 200 cluster headache patients discovered that a whopping 70% of the former group experienced moderate-complete relief of their migraine symptoms after partaking in sexual activities during a headache attack; and 91% of the second group noted moderate-complete relief for their cluster headaches after getting it on themselves. These results were regardless of partner, sex position, or type of sexual activity used. So if the aspirin hasn't worked, then maybe try slipping into something a little sexier during your next period. 

The one thing you can't get away from during your period is the mess that is period blood; not all of us want to see or taste it. If you want to have penetrative sex without dealing with the blood, a condom can prevent your partner's penis or dildo from getting covered in it, but that doesn't really help your vagina much. Luckily, there's another method out there that makes you feel like you're not on your period at all.

Though it's perfectly safe to have penetrative sex without a menstrual blocker (and a lot of people totally dig that extra lubrication), there is a way to have blood-free period sex. FLEX, for instance — a small, flexible disc that looks like a cross between a Diaphragm and the DivaCup — is an alternative to tampons, pads, and traditional menstrual cups. FLEX not only lets you have penetrative sex without needing to remove the device or touching blood, but it can stay inside you for up to 12 hours (unlike the standard tampon). Research shows that the device even helps alleviate cramps and is less prone to causing toxic shock than the fibrous tampon. The only downsides to the FLEX I can see are that it's a little pricier than the average tampon and insertion takes a little getting used to, as it is quite a fair bit larger than the DivaCup or a tampon. But hey — practice makes perfect!

And since FLEX is, well, very flexible, your partner's penis or dildo will fit comfortably inside your vagina, pressing up against the rubbery material of the device instead of the wall of your vagina. The blood remains behind the device, whether you're standing up or lying down. Your genitals will still generate natural clear lubrication, of course, and it'll still feel great for everyone involved.

If you're not interested in FLEX, it's still possible to have period sex that doesn't damage your bed sheets — the most obvious option being shower sex. Just clean as you go! You can even incorporate a little showerhead action into your foreplay if you're feeling a creative. If that's not an option, though, you can always pick up some rubber sheets. (Your mattress will thank you later.)

Also: If you're a fan of oral sex, your partner can still give you cunnilingus during that time of the month with the aid of a dental dam. Just like penetrative sex, it's not actually dangerous to engage in oral sex during your period; it's all about preference. 

At the end of the day, as much as society wants us to believe that we're gross for having period sex, it's just not true. Choosing to have period sex with or without a device like FLEX is not disgusting, and deciding to engage in heavy-petting around the blood is not gross — in fact, it's as natural as having one's period (and sex itself, for that matter).

If your partner prefers not to have period sex, that's one thing. (And it's fine!) But if you're with someone who reels back in horror at the mere idea of going near you during your period — who makes you feel disgusting for something so natural and uncontrollable — they're the disgusting ones, IMO.

So next time you feel a little randy during your period, get yourself protected and just go for it. It's safe, it's comforting, and it's as simple as that!

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STEPHANIE WATSON

Stephanie Watson is a feminist journalist and editor, who also dabbles in fiction and poetry. She is the EIC over at Fembot, and contributes to HelloGiggles, YourTango, and many more.

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