Period cramps are the worst, so it’s understandable that some people prefer to say no to sex when they’re cramping.

The thing is, you’d probably be doing yourself — and your uterus — a solid by masturbating or having partner sex when you’re having a bad period.

Feel-good hormones released during sexy time have pain-relieving effects that can help with cramps and other period pain, like headaches.

Still not convinced? We’ve got the best sex positions for menstrual cramps and other pesky period probs that’ll make you say yes, yes, oh yessss to sex even when you’re having the period from hell.

rider on top penetrative sex positionShare on Pinterest
Illustrations by Alyssa Kiefer

These positions can help bring a little sexual healing to any sex act if you’re having bad period cramps.

Penetrative sex

“Consider being on top of your partner — in this position you can control the depth of penetration and prevent further discomfort in your pelvis,” says Dr. Kate White, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Boston University School of Medicine and author of “Your Sexual Health: A Guide to Understanding, Loving, and Caring for Your Body.”

This position works for vaginal and anal penetration with a penis or strap-on. Just climb on, lower yourself onto their penis or toy, and use your hands to control the depth while your hips dictate the tempo.


If you need a quick release, masturbation’s the way to go. The key to enjoyable self-lovin’ when cramping is to avoid pressure on your abdomen and pelvis where you feel cramps.

You have a couple of cramp-friendly positions to choose from: on your side in the fetal position or on your back with a pillow under your knees.

Both provide easy access to the clitoris and all the usual hot spots so you can stroke to your heart’s content or use a toy for external or internal pleasure.

Hand sex

Like with masturbation, being on your side or on your back to take the pressure off your crampy pelvic region can make all the difference.

Here’s how to receive pleasure in both positions:

  • On your back: Have your partner kneel at your side so each of you is able to reach your genitals with ease.
  • On your side: Lie facing each other for manual genital play or spoon with the pleasure giver behind you for anal stimulation.

Oral sex

Sideways 69 is the ideal position for giving or getting oral because it lets you be in the position that most of us curl into when having bad period cramps anyway.

Just lift your top leg to receive, or place a pillow between your knees for extra comfort if you’re giving, oral.

A heavy flow can make for a slippery good time, but if you or your partner is squeamish about the blood, using a menstrual disc and opting for positions with gravity on their side can help.

Penetrative sex

“You may prefer to be on your back,” says White. “Try pulling your legs back toward your chest if you like the feel of deeper penetration — blood can act as a lubricant.”

To improve the position for anal—and give gravity a helping hand—prop your bottom up with a pillow or two. Don’t forget to use lots of lube!


Lying on your back with your 2 or 3 pillows under your knees can help keep any blood up and (mostly) off the bed if you’re not wearing a disc, cup, or tampon.

Use your hands or a toy for clit stim, or take it inside for some V play. Just be sure to take out your cup or tampon to avoid pushing it too high up in there!

If it so moves you, feel free to reach around back for some solo butt play.

Hand sex

A face-down, butt-up position (aka doggy), puts gravity on your side while allowing you to be manually pleasured.

If you’re doing the pleasuring or it’s a simultaneous hand sex situation, have your partner sit or lie back and then assume this position over top of their genitals, facing toward or away from them.

Oral sex

Oral sex on a heavy flow day is doable. Lying on your back with your knees pulled up can help reduce leakage while receiving oral or rimming.

A dental dam plays double duty during oral sex on your period to reduce STI risk while also providing a barrier between mouth and blood.

Comfy’s the name of the game when bloating is in full swing.

Penetrative sex

“Try lying on your side with your partner curled around you — there’s less pressure on your abdomen from either your partner or the bed in this position,” says White.

With your partner nestled in behind, vaginal or anal penetration with a penis or strap-on is easy and comfy on your bloated belly.


Any comfortable position goes for a rendezvous for one, but you might find that lying on your side feels best for your bloated belly.

Place a pillow or two between your knees to keep your legs apart just enough to easily reach your clit and vagina, or to reach around for a backdoor tease.

Hand sex

On your side is again the best position to assume when giving or receiving hand sex with a bloated tummy.

You can both lie on your sides facing each other for manual genital stim, or spoon for anal fingering.

Oral sex

Lying on your side takes top honors again to keep pressure off your bloated tummy during oral.

Raise your upper leg to receive or assume the sideways 69 position for simultaneous pleasure.

The last thing you may feel like doing when you’re nauseous is to move around, but if you’re feeling randy, there are plenty of low-lift ways to satisfy your needs.

Penetrative sex

White recommends the lotus position while dealing with period nausea.

“The rocking motions in this position may upset your tummy less than vigorous action in other positions,” says White.

To do it, have your partner sit crossed-legged and sit in their lap with your legs around them. Adjust as needed for vaginal or anal entry with a penis, strap-on, or double-ended dildo.


If you’re going to masturbate while nauseous, keep your upper body slightly elevated to avoid smooshing or crinkling your belly, which could make it worse.

Sit on your bed or couch and lean back into a relaxed position that’s easy to reach your pleasure parts from.

Hand sex

Sitting side-by-side with your partner while leaning back against a headboard or pillow lets you get handsy without too much stomach-churning movement. Place one leg over theirs for easier access to each other’s genitals.

If you’re giving the hand action, have them kneel over your legs instead, either facing you or away, so their genitals or butt are within easy reach.

Oral sex

The beauty of giving oral is that you can assume a propped lying position and let them go down on you or bring their genitals or anus to you for a good licking.

If your partner has a penis or is wearing a strap-on, they can stand over you or next to you for a beej. If they have a vulva, they can do the same or get on all fours over your lap, maneuvering their backside towards your mouth for oral or rimming.

A hands-off approach above the waist may be best if your chest hurts, but you can show all your other bits all kinds of love with these positions.

Penetrative sex

If your breasts need support, consider being on your stomach with your bum in the air so you can rest your breasts on or over a pillow,” says White.

Arch your back to allow your partner access to your vag or bum. Resting your elbows on the bed and keeping your arms close to the sides of your breasts will keep the bounce and jiggle to a minimum.


Soft pillows are your BFFs for a solo sesh with sore breasts.

If you like to lie on your back while you masturbate, tucking a pillow under each arm can help support your ta-tas from the sides while you writhe.

If you want to masturbate face down, a soft cushion for the pushin’ under your breasts will feel good as you rub your clit or show your butt hole some love.

Hand sex

It’s ta-tas on top for the win when giving or receiving hand sex because you can adjust as needed for your comfort.

Have your partner lie on their back. Then get on all fours over their lap so each party’s genitals (and buttholes!) are within easy reach.

Oral sex

A good face sitting is best because it leaves your hands free to support your breasts.

If you’re in a giving mood, just swap positions and lie back or propped up against a couple of pillows while they lower their parts over your face.

If you’re not feeling it and would rather skip sex, that’s fine. You do you, Boo. But if you’ve got a hankering for hanky panky, there’s no need to let your period cramps keep you from satisfying your craving.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Take ibuprofen around 30 minutes before sex for relief from cramps and other period-related pains, like low back ache and headache.
  • Lay down a dark towel or a waterproof blanket to camouflage blood and keep your sheets clean.
  • Consider taking a hot bath or shower before sex or even during. The heat increases blood flow to all the right places, like your genitals to get you primed for lovin’ and your pelvis to relieve cramping. It also helps relax muscles.
  • Don’t forget about all the non-penetrative sex you can have! Mutual masturbation or even a hot, touchy-feely, makeout or hump fest can get you to O-town and help with cramps.
  • Say yes to solo pleasure on your period, which can be just as beneficial for your mood and cramps as partnered play, without having to worry about how a partner feels about blood.
  • If you’d rather not free bleed while you play, you can put in a menstrual cup or tampon for outercourse or use a menstrual disc, which is penetration-friendly.
  • Try not to let the worry of a mess interfere with your pleasure. It’s just blood and it can be cleaned up, NBD.

There are a lot of myths around period sex, so let’s bust ’em so you get can down to business already:

  • Period blood isn’t dirty. It’s just another bodily fluid. In fact, it’s made up of more vaginal secretions and uterine cells than it is actual blood.
  • Sex on your period isn’t bad for you. It can actually help soothe cramps and other pain thanks to relaxation-inducing, pain-relieving hormones.
  • Think people don’t want to have sex while PMS-ing? Think again! A lot of people actually report feeling horny before their period.
  • You can get pregnant on your period, so use birth control if that’s a concern.
  • Period blood can transmit STIs just like any other infected bodily fluid, so use barrier protection if that’s a concern.

Cramps suck, but they don’t have to interfere with your sex life. A little extra prep, housekeeping, and the right position can make all the difference.

Adrienne Santos-Longhurst is a Canada-based freelance writer and author who has written extensively on all things health and lifestyle for more than a decade. When she’s not holed-up in her writing shed researching an article or off interviewing health professionals, she can be found frolicking around her beach town with husband and dogs in tow or splashing about the lake trying to master the stand-up paddle board.