- Even though period sex can be a perfectly normal experience, there are still a lot of stigmas and myths surrounding the act.
- INSIDER spoke with an OB/GYN who debunked some of the common myths about period sex.
- When having sex on your period you could still get pregnant and period sex isn’t always as messy as you might think.
Even though it is definitely possible to have great sex while on your period, there are unfortunately a lot of shame-based stigmas and myths out there surrounding the act.
INSIDER spoke with Dr. Carolyn DeLucia, OB/GYN and advisor to Remedy Review, to break down some of the most misconceptions about period sex.
Here are eight common myths about period sex, debunked.
MYTH: There will be blood everywhere.
Period sex probably isn’t as messy as you’d think, said Dr. DeLucia.
“Depending on the flow, it may not be messy at all,” she said. “If your flow is at its heaviest, simply put a towel down on the bed or whatever surface you may be using and have tissues ready for clean up afterward.”
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If you’d prefer to wait until you’re at the end of your cycle when your flow is lightest, you likely won’t even need to worry about much blood at all.
MYTH: You can’t get pregnant during period sex.
If you are having unprotected sex, you could be putting yourself at risk for pregnancy at any point in your cycle, especially because cycles can be irregular. “Always be careful having sex,” Dr. DeLucia told INSIDER. “Our cycles change and we can ovulate sooner than expected.”
According to WebMD, sperm can live inside a body for up to five days, and if your cycle is irregular, you could ovulate within that time – which means even though it’s unlikely, you could get pregnant during period sex.
MYTH: Period blood cannot pass STIs.
Another reason to always use protection: “Any blood and bodily fluids can pass on STIs,” said Dr. DeLucia, so if you or your partner is infected, you could unwittingly be passing on that infection. Safety and STI prevention should be a priority at every point in your cycle.
MYTH: Sex will “trigger” your period or somehow make it heavier.
If you’re nearing your period and worried that sex will make your period come sooner, it’s not always the case. Dr. Leah Millheiser, director of the Female Sexual Medicine Program at Stanford University, previously told INSIDER that sex will only kick-start your period if you have an orgasm because “the act of having an orgasm can actually kind of force some of that blood out because it’s causing uterine contractions.”
But Dr. Lauren Streicher, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University, told INSIDER that this can only happen within a day or two of when your period is supposed to come anyway. In most cases, it’s likely a coincidence.
MYTH: Period sex will make your menstrual cramps more painful.
In fact, the exact opposite is true: If you’re battling cramps, certain physical activities – including sex – can really help with cramps.
“Sex may actually decrease cramps and will definitely make you feel better,” Dr. DeLucia told INSIDER. Among the most unexpected health benefits of orgasms are their pain-reducing abilities. When you climax, your body releases a flood of endorphins, also known as the “feel-good hormone,” or as Dr. DeLucia describes it, “our hormone of well-being.”
So if you’re feeling up to it, period sex could make your cramps a bit easier to deal with.
MYTH: Period pain and bleeding will diminish any desire for sexual activity.
As mentioned before, sex can be pleasurable throughout your cycle. But it turns out that the surge in testosterone that happens during menses can cause an uptick in libido, making you desire sex even when you might be curled up on the couch in pain.
MYTH: Period sex itself will be more painful.
Period blood can act as a great natural lubricant, thus potentially making things less painful than sex during other points in your cycle.
But as Dr. Gersh previously told INSIDER, your body’s estrogen levels are actually at their lowest during your period, so you will experience less natural lubrication. You should still keep lube on hand, but you might not need it.
MYTH: Oral sex and periods don’t mix.
As with period sex in general, it’s all up to personal preference. If you’re having oral sex, you can keep a tampon in if it makes you feel more comfortable – just as you can with anal sex. If you’re having vaginal sex, it’s safer to remove your tampon first.
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