Period sex can be great, but let’s not kid ourselves: This is messy fun. But once you get past the blood, you realize that period sex can be just as great, if not sometimes better than sex the rest of the month. Besides, who wants to put their sex life on hold for the better part of a week every month? There is nothing gross or unsanitary about period sex, but there are some key things to know to ensure that your sexy time is as safe and pleasurable as possible.
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1. Can you have sex with a tampon inside to lessen the mess?
Absolutely not, says Adeeti Gupta, M.D., founder of Walk-In GYN Care. “Having sex with a tampon is a big no.” While you may think a tampon will prevent any messes during sex, it actually can cause bigger health issues down the line. “Penetrative sex with a tampon may push the tampon deeper inside or split it, and that can lead to a ‘lost’ tampon or fragments in the vagina,” Gupta says.
In extreme cases, a forgotten tampon can even lead to infections, including Toxic Shock Syndrome—rare, but it happens. Instead, toss the tampon, lay a towel down on the bed, and get busy, says sex therapist Laura Berman, Ph.D. Or try having shower sex for a different (and pretty damn clean) experience—just grab a little something to help you have a great time, since water is basically the anti-lube.
2. Do you get hornier on your period?
It’s complicated. During your period, your hormones, particularly progesterone, are at an all-time low, so your sexual appetite could start building up. “There is a more complex interplay of hormones between testosterone, estrogen, and other small hormones, which create an ideal environment for heightened sexual response during or just after the period,” Gupta says.
But of course, your feelings toward sex around your time of the month are very personal—meaning it’s not weird if you don’t feel that way too—and may also be reduced if you’re using oral contraceptives.
3. … and relatedly, does sex on your period really feel any different?
If you think that sex feels so much better on your period, it’s not all in your head. Many people agree with you. “Sex is definitely more pleasurable,” Gupta says. “It’s almost like your system rejuvenates automatically every month.” Just another great excuse to get it. (But again, it’s not weird if it doesn’t feel super incredible then too).
4. Is it safe for your partner to go down on you when you have your period?
Receiving oral sex during your period may not be everyone’s… red velvet cupcake, but it’s actually A-OK. That said, while the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection like HIV through oral sex is low, contact with menstrual fluid may increase that risk, so if you’re seeing multiple partners or haven’t been tested in a while, it’s worth using a dental dam during your time of the month.
5. Can you get pregnant on your period?
Yes, but probably not. “At that time, the hormones are at their lowest, and the chances of ovulation are minimal.” But that doesn’t mean you should get lazy with the birth control—there’s still a small risk that pregnancy can occur any time you have sex. “The chances of conception during menstruation are minimal but never zero,” Gupta says. “Especially if your ovulation cycle is irregular and your ovulation is unpredictable as a result.”
6. Does having sex on your period really relieve cramps?
The verdict is 50/50. Gupta believes sex doesn’t have much of an effect on cramps. In some cases, those who are prone to cramps because of another medical condition (adenomyosis or endometriosis) may experience discomfort during period sex, Gupta says.
But some feel otherwise. “Having an orgasm releases endorphins, and the contraction of the uterine muscles during the orgasm could act as a pain reliever,” Berman says. So why not experiment with it—if it hurts, you can always stop or try a different position. But if you find it helps with your cramps, go with the flow (… pun intended).