In praise of period sex and its benefits

The post In praise of period sex and its benefits appeared first on FrolicMe.

Some of my best sex has happened on my period. I’m lucky enough to only suffer painful cramps for one day, but the rest of the time I’m bleeding, I’m outrageously horny. It’s as if my body has turned a dial on arousal and suddenly what used to be a ‘want’ has become almost a ‘need.’ And I’m not the only one. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that a significant proportion of us get more horny on our period—in a study from 1960 (not a time when you’d have expected people to feel open talking about these topics!) 59% of the women asked reported increased sex drive while they were menstruating. But given that so many of us are hornier, why is there still so much stigma attached to having sex while bleeding? And how can those of us who enjoy period sex make sure we’re having the best possible time?

Why is there so much shame attached to period sex?

Let’s begin by exploring the shame attached to menstruation, which—believe it or not—is not ubiquitous to all cultures throughout history. There is evidence of menstrual blood being used in fertility rituals in ancient Greece, and in ancient Egypt menstrual blood may have been consumed with wine at times to help ‘increase spiritual power.’ Nevertheless, in more recent centuries menstruation has often been seen as something ‘dirty’ or shameful, and therefore something to be hidden.

Some of this can be put down to religion. There are a number of religions that believe weird myths about this simple, extremely common biological process: that you shouldn’t sit down after someone who’s been menstruating because they are ‘impure’, for instance, or that because of menstrual impurity, they shouldn’t be allowed in places of worship. Some preach that the onset of menses in puberty is somehow indicative of sin. But secular society shares much of the blame here, too, with issues that disproportionately affect those of us with XX chromosomes being treated not only as less important but crucially more embarrassing than issues which affect everybody.

The problem with shame is that it lingers… often for a very long time. If you grew up the way I did—in the secular UK, in a non-religious family, with a school that provided a basic (though by no means perfect) sex education—no one will ever have sat you down and told you that menstruation is gross. And yet the message of shame has always been prevalent: TV ads for sanitary pads that used mysterious blue liquid instead of blood; euphemistic ‘feminine hygiene’ aisles in pharmacies; giggles and whispers if you needed to ask the teacher for a pad if you ‘came on’ unprepared. I remember gross slogans about period sex when I was a teen (“If the river’s running red, take the dirt track”—meaning ‘if your girlfriend’s on her period, try anal.’) and those messages rubbed off not only on me but my peers, too. An early boyfriend expressed pretty visceral disgust when he realised that period blood isn’t actually just blood—it also has solid bits of uteral lining. He wasn’t trying to perpetuate shame, but shame had kept him from learning much about menstruation in the first place.

Although I don’t want to spend too much time on the details, it’s important to highlight the long history of period stigma. We in 2024 know rationally that there’s nothing to be ashamed of, but that doesn’t stop us from carrying residual emotional discomfort—even sometimes trauma—from these messages we’ve been subject to since birth. If you’re still a bit nervous of broaching the topic of period sex with your partner, please don’t worry—you aren’t alone. Hopefully, my brash, enthusiastic love for it can help you start that conversation.

What are the benefits of period sex?

Now we get to the good stuff! There are plenty of health benefits to period sex, and many of those track with the benefits of great sex in general: it boosts your ‘feel good’ chemicals like oxytocin and dopamine, helps you feel more connected to your partner, can be an extremely good exercise (depending on how you do it!), and give you orgasms. The most important reason for having period sex is that sex itself is fun, and a bit of blood doesn’t have to stop that fun any more than you’d have to stop shagging because you cut your finger making lunch.

On top of this, though, there is evidence that orgasms themselves can help alleviate the pain of period cramps. This won’t be true for everyone, and there will definitely be some people (especially those who suffer from extreme pain caused by things such as endometriosis) for whom period sex will not work. But for many of us, sex can work as pain relief. Likewise, those who suffer from migraines during their period may find that orgasms help to relieve the agony.

Most interestingly (to me at any rate) is the fact that orgasms can potentially help to reduce the length of your period. The contractions in the uterus caused by coming can push out more of the uteral lining and mean the bleeding ends a little sooner. This news also backs up something my science teacher told a friend and I when we were 16: if your period is a little late, try masturbation. Often that will kick-start the process of your uterus expelling what it needs to. By the way, if your period has a habit of arriving while you’re mid-coitus, like mine does, this may well be why. Which leads me neatly onto…

Best positions for period sex

The most obvious choice for great period sex is you on top (where ‘you’ is the person menstruating). This is my personal favourite—not only is it best for easy clean-up (it’s far easier for my boyfriend to hop in the shower than it is to wash blood off a duvet) I think it’s also beneficial if you’re slightly tender or sore with cramps. Many people, myself included, find deep penetration a bit uncomfortable when they’re cramping, and going on top helps you to control the depth more easily. Doggy or other from-behind positions can also help with this. Likewise, products such as the ‘Oh-nut’ can be worn around a penis or strap-on to help limit the depth of penetration, and specially designed support pillows, such as those made by Liberator, can also help you get into (and stay in!) positions that give you more control over depth.

Non-penetrative period sex

Always worth mentioning, of course, that not all sex has to be penetrative. If you’re still unsure about the mess that sometimes comes hand in hand with period sex, or you want to ease yourself into it, you might want to first try sex that focuses on manual or oral stimulation outside the vagina, using something like a tampon or a mooncup/divacup to avoid any leaks.

External clit-stim vibrators are perfect for this, likewise some of the newer ‘grind’ toys which are becoming more prevalent in the sex toy market. These are designed to be strapped to someone (or something!) and allow you to stimulate your clit by grinding against the texture. There are some other sex toys designed for grinding play too—the Pulse Duo by Hot Octopuss is designed to be worn on a penis, but has an external vibrator aimed at providing stimulation for someone to grind upon.

Products for period sex

As you may be able to tell, I am personally not worried about a bit of blood. If I’m having sex when I am already on my period or when I think I might be likely to come on partway through, I’ll throw a towel down to save my duvet cover/sofa cushions/living room rug, but otherwise, go with the flow, so to speak. But if you want to have penetrative sex without any blood escaping, there are products that aim to help with this. Sponges have been used for many centuries to stop blood flow during sex, and they are still sold in many places today, but I would not recommend these—the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome is extremely high as you cannot always be sure that they are thoroughly clean before insertion. A much better option would be a modern barrier product such as Flex—a flexible disc that sits just beneath your cervix (like an old-school ‘diaphragm’, sometimes called ‘the cap’) and will collect the blood while it’s in place. These can be emptied afterwards, the same as you would with a mooncup or similar.

However, the only reason to use these products is if you personally want to—if you don’t want the faff of cleaning your sheets or putting a towel down before you get stuck in. It’s very easy for discussion around these products to accidentally fall into talk of blood being ‘unclean’—those traps laid by many centuries of period shaming! —when actually a bit of menstrual blood during sex is no more unusual than the extra lube your vagina produces when you’re getting aroused. You should take the same sexual health precautions that you normally do to lower your risk of STI transmission. Likewise, take the same contraceptive steps you usually would. Although you are less likely to get pregnant when you’re on your period, it is still possible.

How to wash blood out of linen

Fundamentally, I think this is the most useful piece of advice for anyone wishing to have a go at period sex: soak your sheets in cold water (or a mix of cold water and detergent) overnight before putting them in the washing machine on the hottest possible setting. For really tough stains, use a bit of hydrogen peroxide (or any brand-name stain remover) and a brush to scrub it into the mark before soaking and then washing. But the vast majority of menstrual blood stains will go, if you just soak in cold, then wash in hot water.

The post In praise of period sex and its benefits appeared first on FrolicMe.


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