FOR many of us, the thought of period sex is enough to put us off intercourse for life.
After all, bleed days have typically meant our vagina is a no-go area; a ‘red zone’ if you’ll pardon the pun.
Or, perhaps being on your period has been a perfect excuse to take a rain check on sex.
But, it might be time to ‘stir the paint’ as they say, because period sex is a-ok, and it can even provide some pretty impressive benefits.
Dr Susanna Unsworth is an in-house gynaecology expert at Intima.
She says that one of the main reasons people avoid having period sex is because of the mess: “Period blood does also smell a little different, and some may worry that their partner would not like this.
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“In turn, this may impact their own feelings towards sex.”
She adds that some may be frightened by the actual blood itself, or may be worried about the potential for transmitting some sort of infection or disease.
“There is also sadly still an element of stigma associated with periods, reinforcing the idea that periods are something to be ashamed of.
“This is obviously going to have a significant negative effect on the idea of having sex during a period.”
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We say it’s time to run the red light, and ride the crimson tide because period sex just got our approval…
The benefits of period sex
Messy sheets aside, there’s actually some benefits to getting down and dirty during the days of a period bleed.
In fact, if you suffer from PMS symptoms, then period sex could offer a useful aid.
“Having sex on your period has been proven to help relieve painful symptoms that can come with menstruation, from menstrual cramps to migraines,” says Dr Unsworth.
“This is because sex and orgasm can increase the production of chemicals that result in ‘wellbeing feelings’, which dampen pain signals and act as a form of pain relief.”
Oh, and long, drawn out periods might actually become shorter if you’re getting jiggy between the sheets during the days of your bleed.
“Sex can help to bring periods to an end quicker. Orgasm can cause a contraction of the womb muscle which can speed up the process of the uterus shedding its lining, shortening the length of your period.”
The biggest benefit though, trumping every other by far, is that period sex can lead to more intense orgasms.
Research by Intima found that almost half (41 per cent) of women say they sometimes experience better orgasms when menstruating, whilst 12 per cent said they always orgasm better on their period!
“More intense orgasms are due to increased sensitivity in the vulva. This is due to the increased blood flow in the area.
“Many people who menstruate find that their sex drive is higher during their period thanks to a spike in oestrogen and progesterone that occurs just before menstruation, so this is a great time to reap the benefits,” adds Dr Unsworth.
Can you get pregnant having period sex?
You should still use contraception during period sex, if you don’t want to fall pregnant.
Although the risk is small if you are having regular cycles, Dr Unsworth says it’s been shown that sperm can survive for up to seven days in the reproductive tract (inside the womb or fallopian tubes), and “if you were to ovulate earlier in your next cycle there is the potential that fertilisation of that egg could occur from sperm that is still present”.
Plus, some women bleed during ovulation.
“If this were to be confused with a normal period and someone had unprotected sex, this could actually be the most fertile time in their cycle leading to a much higher chance of pregnancy.
“Therefore, if pregnancy is definitely something you wish to avoid, I would always recommend using effective contraception at all times.”
Tips for mess-free and safe period sex
We get it, stained bed sheets are never ideal.
“If the potential mess is putting you off, try putting a dark towel down on the bed.
“This can make it easier to clean up quickly and protects the sheets from any blood staining, letting you focus on the task at hand,” recommends Dr Unsworth.
She adds that sex in the shower will automatically clean away any blood loss, “without you having to worry about it – and it can be great fun”.
Be sure that tampons and menstrual cups are removed during period sex.
A tampon can get pushed high into the vagina if it’s forgotten about.
Dr Unsworth recommends a menstrual disk. These protect you from leaking as well as allowing you to have mess-free period sex.
She also warns that protection should still be used during period sex, as you would during non-period sex.
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“Transmission of blood borne STIs is higher during this period, so ensure that you use condoms or other barriers.
“There is still a potential risk of pregnancy too – use contraception and consider long-acting reversible contraception as a very effective option.”
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