How to have great period sex
Period sex can be messy, awkward, and hard to plan around. But it can also be bloody incredible (pun very much intended). Not only is it the way to relax, which we all know we could use when we’re menstruating, having sex while on your period can actually help relieve your cramps too! I know, I know, where do they keep these secrets? Why are we not taught this life-saving info in school? I don’t know about you, but I’d have been a lot more interested in sex ed workshops if they covered all the ways a healthy sex life can improve your life, rather than leave us with a condom-covered banana and little understanding beyond ‘men ejaculate, feel good’.
But! Fortunately for our blood pressure levels, we are not here to discuss the many sins of the cis-herteropatriarchy, we’re here to talk about period sex: why it’s so great, how to enjoy it if you’re not sold on it, and how to have it safely and neatly, if that’s one of your concerns.
First, have a read of part one in this beginner’s guide to period sex series, where we discuss the need-to-know info about having safe, informed, and consensual period sex. It’s important to read the less-fun facts about period sex as well as the spicy tips, because far too many people don’t know that you can get pregnant from having sex on your period or that having period sex actually comes with a slightly higher risk of spreading STIs. So stay safe and read up, babe.
Is period sex messy?
Yeah, period sex can be messy as hell. Now, depending on how heavy your flow is at the time you’re going to be having sex, or how attached you are to your bedsheets/couch cushions/towels, this may or may not be a problem for you.
It is thought that period sex can cause your period to arrive a little earlier than expected – but only if you orgasm. This is because the muscles which contract when you have an orgasm also contract to help shed the uterine lining. So if you’re nearing the end of your cycle, be aware that some of our tips on how to save your bedsheets during period sex might apply to you, too! Some people also reckon orgasming while menstruating can help shorten your period by expediting the rate at which the uterine muscles shed – again, thanks to those contracting muscles.
Period sex being potentially pretty messy is one of the main things that puts a alot of people off trying it out. This could be because the societal stigma of periods has left you or your partner(s) feeling grossed out by the sight or thought of the blood itself, or maybe because you simply don’t feel like dealing with the extra admin that having period sex can involve, be it figuring out how to mitigate the mess, to how to remove your tampon without breaking up the ~mood~, or how to leg it to the bathroom afterwards without leaving a horror movie-worthy trail of blood in your wake.
If you’re anxious about having period sex because you’re not sure how to manage the blood, there are a few things you can do to avoid or control the mess and feel comfortable while you do it.
How to save your sheets during period sex
Throw a towel down. Maybe this one goes without saying but throwing a towel down is really step one when you’re initiating period sex. Even if you think your flow is light enough not to cause a mess, if you’d be gutted to stain your sheets it’s always worth throwing a towel down just to be on the safe side. Especially if the sex will involve any kind of penetration (penis, toys, or fingers), the sudden activity down there and increased vaginal lubrication can definitely be accompanied by a sudden… gush. Sorry.
Wear a menstrual disc during sex. They work a bit like a menstrual cup but are much shallower and can be worn during sex. They’ll help catch a lot of the blood but it’s worth bearing in mind that if you’re having a particularly energetic session or are going for a long time (hey, good for you, babe) then it could become dislodged or need emptying.
Have shower sex. It immediately takes care of the clean up for you and it’s hot as hell, period or no period. Besides, if you’ve previously tried having sex in the shower or bath and found the water a bit of an obstacle to your natural lubrication, your period blood might actually have your back as a natural lubricant!
Blood-free ways to enjoy period sex
Can you have period sex if you’re squeamish about blood? If the thought of having to deal with a bloody towel or overflowing menstrual cup after sex is bringing out shudders in either you or your partner(s) and they’re far too blood-phobic to broach the subject of shower sex – which, yes, makes clean up easier but does nothing to cover up the presence of blood as it flows down your legs and tub – there are definitely a few other ways to enjoy sex without your period hogging too much of the limelight.
First up, why not get a little kinky and try out a blindfold? Whichever one of you has trouble with the sight of blood should be the one wearing it, obviously, and the other person can have fun playing with all their other senses, which will be heightened by wearing a blindfold. If you’re already a pro when it comes to kinky sex and fetish gear, you may already have a whole bloody collection of blindfolds lying about, but if not, a bandana, silky scarf, t-shirt, or even a pair of underwear can suffice.
What counts as sex to you? My fellow queer babes, I’m sure you’re as sick to death as I am of any and all discussions of sex that assume penetrative, penis-in-vagina sex is the only kind of sex there is. There’s a whole world of sexual acts and sensations out there that don’t require getting up close and personal with the inside of your vagina, bleeding or not.
The most obvious of these, of course, is that when you’re on your period you can wear a tampon, cup, or disc while receiving and giving oral sex. When the person receiving oral sex is wearing a tampon, the focus can be on clitoral stimulation – by experimenting with bullet vibes, tongues, fingers – and it can even be on other, tragically overlooked erogenous zones such as the mons pubis, inner thighs, the crease of the thigh, and the perineum.
Other erogenous zones will take you even further away from the genital area/blood zone: your hands, your feet, neck, earlobes, behind your knees, your nipples. The list goes on, really – even armpits are an erogenous zone. Just take anywhere on the body that’s sensitive and experiment with sensual touch and see how your partner reacts. Sex should be fun, after all, and experimenting with new sensations and positions is one of the best parts about it.
Orgasms are great for period pain
You may or may not feel horny when you’re on your period. Our hormones aren’t really bothered about getting us in the mood during our bleed, because it’s not when you’re most fertile. On the other hand, however, the blood flow can stimulate the nerve endings around your genitals and cause you to feel aroused. Whichever camp you fall into, having sex on your period has one unmatched benefit that will have you considering a quick shag even if you feel about as sexy as plate of mashed potato – orgasms can help your period pain.
Period pain is caused by the way our uterus muscles aggressively contract to shed the uterus lining (AKA a period). These contractions compress the blood vessels lining the womb and subsequently prevent oxygen from reaching the uterus. The uterus contains tissues which, when deprived of oxygen, release a chemical that triggers pain.
Muscle tension, another common cause of the pain we feel while we’re menstruating, is caused by the release of cortisol (aka the stress hormone), which taps into the protein stores to engage the muscles ready for fight, flight or freeze. When our muscles contract for a long period of time, we experience pain as a result of our body’s nervous system during these muscle contractions, which reduces blood flow to the muscles and leaves them with less oxygen, causing a buildup of lactic acid.
When we orgasm, there’s a release of oxytocin and dopamine – aka happy-making endorphins that help reduce feelings of pain, tension, and stress, encouraging our minds and muscles to chill tf out. Bonus points if you get yourself to orgasm with a vibrator. Why? Well, whether you’re using a bullet (clitoral) vibrator or an internal one, the vibrations on your genitals stimulate blood flow and oxygen to genitals. This helps to ease the cramps which are caused by the contracting uterus muscles depriving the tissue in your uterus of oxygen. A vibrator is actually better at awakening your nerve endings (all 8,000 of them!) than your fingers, a mouth, or someone else’s genitals are.
The best positions for period sex
When you’re on your period, your cervix sits much lower in the vagina and is open to allow your uterine lining to pass through – also known as, well, your period. As your reproductive organs are likely feeling a bit battered and you’re experiencing heightened sensitivity around your genitals, it’s not necessarily going to be the best time for really aggressive penetrative sex.
A great position to try if you’re having penetrative sex with either someone with a penis or a strap-on, is lying down on your side with them behind you. It’s a gentle position that enables you to easily control the depth of penetration if you’re feeling more sensitive or deep penetration is painful at this time. We’d also recommend getting experimental at this time of the month. It’s totally normal if your usual favourite sex position feels too uncomfortable or even painful, particularly if it involves deep penetration. Try a variety of angles – or just make sure you’re on top so you can settle into the rhythm and depth of penetration that suits you!
If your biggest concern while having sex on your period isn’t comfort but mess, then the go-to sex position for you is good-ol’ missionary. Missionary, if you’re on the bottom, gets bonus points for allowing you to become a total pillow princess and just lie there while your partner does all the work (no shame, you deserve it babe). It also helps stem the flow of blood and allows you to control where any leaks may happen – hopefully on that towel right below you!
Period sex should be fun
Try not to get too carried away with preparing in advance. Of course, you’ll want to make sure you and your partner(s) are as comfy as possible and that you’ve spoken about what kind of sex you’re both comfortable with when there’s blood involved (more on this in part three next week), but if you’re new to period sex, the main take away should just be to have fun with it. Period sex is nothing to be scared or ashamed of, it can be just as fun as sex at any other time of your cycle, just with the added bonus of hopefully helping to ease those cramps or relax your tense muscles! Our top tip is just to experiment with your partner and figure out what works best for you.
header image: Petra Collins