For some time now, I have been incorporating Dominique Christina’s “The Period Poem” into my first date interactions. I’ve been known to require potential sexual partners to watch it as part of sexual planning and foreplay. Why? Because just as I make sure my preferred brand of condoms and lube are in my bag when I go on a date, as they are my co-conspirators in pleasure, I also feel the way she advocates and proclaims that periods are powerful gives me a level of emotional safety that I need to be in my body in these experiences.
I have noticed, the more I grow to know myself and my preferences, that having sex during my period is actually my favorite time to have sex. Why? Because there is a level of emotional connectivity that is available to me at that time and no other. Because my vagina feels *different*. Because when I am able to have sex during this time and not feel shamed, I feel AFFIRMED. I feel rooted and present in my body. I feel at my most vulnerable and I invite people to be there with me, and when they accept, the pleasure potential is powerful. I feel at my most beautiful at this time. My breasts are fuller and more sensitive, I feel that my senses are heightened and my level of tolerance for bullshit is low, so boundary setting feels so much easier.
Looking around for information to affirm this preference online, I am finding a lot of “but don’t worry it’s not that messy,” or “if blood gets on your man’s dick, it’s not the end of the world.” First of all, what man? And what do you even mean by “man”? Second, we don’t talk about sperm as if it’s “not as messy as you might think.” Third, let’s talk about some anatomical and physiological possibilities.
Science doesn’t definitively explain the connection between hormones, pleasure and period sex. We’ve included some theories below about why period sex may (or may not) feel so great.
We’ve also included excerpts from the period sex stories you all submitted. We were so grateful and humbled by your thoughtful, vulnerable, and real responses to our request for period sex stories. Your stories are richer than any scientific explanations and often contradict what we think we know about that-time-of-the-month. You can read everyone’s stories in full here. We will also share a Period Sex Zine soon!
1. Period sex may shorten your period as the contractions triggered by orgasm can expel blood more quickly.
2. During menstruation, there’s increased blood flow to the reproductive system, potentially leading to increased awareness and sensitivity. This can also cause a sense of heaviness that some people associate with arousal.
3. Oxytocin and endorphin release associated with orgasm can decrease menstrual cramps during period sex. However, this may not be the case with endometriosis.
“. . . orgasming is a great way to relieve cramps!” - Amanda Powell
“It continued to be incredibly painful for years and years for me to have sex during my cycle. It would almost always end with me crying in the bathroom alone, with debilitating and scary cramps. If I orgasmed, my uterus would spasm so hard and so long that it would be even more painful. I would cry in the bathroom afterwards. I remember just laying on the cold floor writhing and sobbing. When I asked my doctor about it, I was always met with gaslighting, or some generic answer . . . I often wonder if some of that pain I experienced was emotionally based. Since I’ve now given birth to two daughters I no longer have pain during or after sex on my period.” - Anonymous
“Pre childbirth, I liked it . . . It always eased the pain and was very intimate . . . Post child birth however, in five years, we have only done it enough times to count on one hand, because, despite having a caesarean, it isn't the same. My menstruation has become significantly more painful, so even though I'm somewhat craving physical interaction, it doesn't ease the pain anymore and I'm unable to feel pleasured by it.” - Anonymous
4. Wetness related to the period can feel similar to arousal fluid, turning some people on and serving as lubricant.
“He also loved the lubrication it provided and he joked, “you can also paint with it!” (He was an artist).” - Alex, @gatorus, birth and postpartum doula, and medical assistant at Oasis Women’s Sexual Function Center
“Menstrual blood is amazing for lubricant.” - Anonymous
“Contrary to what many people think, I have found that menses is NOT “extra lubrication”. On the contrary, I find that using extra lube (like KY or coconut oil) is my best friend when I choose to have intercourse during menstruation.” - Sarah
5. Chest tenderness during menstruation can trigger dysphoria.
“But, I also have a lot of boob sensitivity during my period which does bring me a lot of dysphoria, so I sometimes wear a binder during sex on my period which makes me feel less dysphoric but also creates a physical barrier between me and my partner that I’m not thrilled with when we’re being intimate.” - Cass Bliss, @tonithetampon
6. The first three-five days of a period are not usually fertile days. It depends how long your menstrual cycles have been the past year and if and when you ovulated the previous cycle. If you want more information, read “the first 5 days rule” here. For some people tracking their cycle, the knowledge they are not fertile during this time can be freeing.
“I knew when her discharge changed in viscosity and would string between my fingers that she was ovulating so as long as her eggs went unfertilized the lining of her uterus would make its grand theatrical appearance which also meant the least probability of pregnancy so I was green lit to climax inside.” -- Andrew V., @skynwalker
7. Progesterone, one hormone that plays crucial roles in the menstrual cycle, is low during your period. High progesterone has been linked to low libido, so low progesterone may mean a strong libido.
If you want to talk more period sex, please join us at Babeland Brooklyn on Friday, March 23 at 7:00 PM for a conversation about period sex that’s affirming of all menstruators. We’ll be chatting about the mechanics of menstruation, and how your cycle doesn’t necessarily have to put a damper in your sex life. One lucky winner will be going home with a free set of Fun Cup menstrual cups! Find more event info here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sex-period-w-the-fifth-vital-sign-tickets-43462443338