- You can have sex on your period, but it’s still important to use protection, as you can still become pregnant.
- While period sex is considered safe, it may increase your risk of spreading or contracting yeast infections and STIs.
- To have safe and enjoyable period sex, you should always use protection, consider adding lubrication, try shower sex, or make sure to have towels ready for any potential mess.
- This article was medically reviewed by Sherry A. Ross, MD, OBG/YN, a women’s health expert in Santa Monica, CA.
- Visit Insider’s Health Reference library for more advice.
If you’ve never tried having sex while menstruating, it can be intimidating. However, with the right precautions, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy sex as much on your period as you do otherwise. Here’s everything you need to know about period sex and how to do it safely.
Yes, you can have sex on your period
While it may require a few extra steps, you can absolutely have sex on your period, and it is a normal, safe activity for consenting adults to do.
In a small 2009 study, 43% of sexually active women aged 18 to 23 reported having sex during their period. Plus, 78% of men aged 18 to 24 said they’ve had sex with someone on their period.
Period sex: What to know
Before having sex on your period, there are some risks you should consider and discuss with your partner.
For example, you may be at a greater risk of infections due to changes in vaginal pH. According to Mary Jane Minkin, MD, OB/GYN, a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale University, your vagina becomes less acidic and more basic during menstruation.
This new environment facilitates bacterial and fungal growth, contributing to conditions like yeast infections. Additionally, a change in pH means, "STDs like gonorrhea and chlamydia can more easily travel up from the cervix into the uterus," says Minkin.
And, contrary to popular belief, you can still get pregnant if you have sex on your period. While a person is most fertile when ovulating, there is always a chance of getting pregnant when having penetrative sex, says Minkin. This is especially true if you have irregular periods, which make it more difficult to determine if you are at the end of your cycle or just spotting.
How to have period sex safely
If you decided to have sex on your period, here are some tips to do it safely and mess-free.
- Use protection. Even during your period, it's important to practice safe sex to prevent unwanted pregnancies and the spread of STIs. "Condoms are still recommended for STI and pregnancy prevention, as both these can still happen," says Mariz.
- Consider lubrication. While it may sound counterintuitive to add lube into the mix, you may need it if you use tampons, as they can dry out the vagina, says Minkin. Consider swapping out tampons for another option such as pads or a menstrual cup in the days before having sex to negate these effects.
- Try shower sex. There is no better time to try shower sex than while on your period. That's because there's less stress about making a mess. If you've struggled with enjoying shower sex in the past, there are a few ways you can make it a better experience. If the angles or slipping are issues, bring a stool or non-slip mat into the shower for some stability. You may find that being in the shower increases vaginal dryness, so consider a lube that works well in the shower to make things more comfortable.
- Have towels ready. To prevent staining of bedsheets, lay down a towel or blanket that can be washed after. To clean yourself up afterward, Mariz recommends using a warm washcloth on any residual blood.
- Consider using a menstrual cup or disc. Some menstrual cups and discs — alternative period hygiene products — can stay inserted while you're having sex. It's a safe option that can make you feel a bit more comfortable about trying sex on your period, says Minkin.
- Be open and honest with your partner. If you're considering having sex on your period, talk to your partner about both of your comfort zones. Ask them if they're open to having sex while you have your period and suggest some of the above ways to make you both feel comfortable and pleasured.
While you can have sex safely during your period, you are still at risk for pregnancy and STIs. Therefore, it's important to use protection like condoms. You can also prepare for any potential messiness or dryness by keeping towels and lube nearby.
Related articles from Health Reference:
- The truth about period syncing and why you might be experiencing it
- 6 reasons you may be bleeding after sex, according to OBG-YNs
- What everyone should know about birth control, from the types to effectiveness
- How birth control pills work by tricking the body into thinking it's already pregnant
- Yes, birth control helps with cramps and some methods are better