Overhead view of someone waist down, laying in bed under a blanket, calves exposed to reveal tattoos and ankle braceletsShare on Pinterest

If you buy something through a link on this page, we may earn a small commission. How this works.

The only subjects more divisive than period masturbation are veganism, Jenny Schecter, and CrossFit.

Here’s the thing: Sure, it’s messy. But a little one-on-one time with your bloody bits is a completely normal, common, and healthy activity, according to Sherry Ross, MD, OB/GYN, women’s health expert in Santa Monica, CA, and author of “She-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women’s Intimate Health. Period.” Emphasis on healthy!

Below, everything to know about throwing yourself a hand party just before or during your period — including health benefits, how to get started, how to include your partner in the fun, and what to do when all’s said and come.

Solo period sex is where it’s at. Need proof? Keep reading.

It can help relieve pain

Masturbating might overthrow Motrin as the period pain reliever.

“Masturbating can help relieve anything from cramps and back pain to headaches and joint aches,” says Ross.

That’s because, during orgasm, the body releases a rush of dopamine and serotonin. These hormones act as natural pain relievers.

It can help boost your mood

Let’s face it: Who isn’t in a nicer/better/happier person after a solo session?

There’s a chemical reason. The aforementioned endorphins that get released during orgasm have all been linked to improved mood.

It may lead to better sleep

Add melatonin to the list of meds masturbating might replace.

In addition to the release of oxytocin, which is thought to create a sedative effect when its initial rush wears off, an orgasm also releases a chemical called prolactin.

This hormone is linked to feelings of sleepiness, says Che Che Luna, a sensuality coach and sex educator at Allbodies, an online platform for reproductive and sexual health.

Plus, sex is a cardiovascular — and even strength, depending on the position — activity. So if you really got after it, it’s normal to feel spent.

It can result in a stronger, longer orgasm

“During menstruation, there is increased blood flow and circulation which can increase arousal, sensitivity and pleasure,” says Luna. “And blood makes great lube.”

It’s the perfect recipe for having your best O of the month.

It allegedly helps shorten your cycle

The hypothesis, according to Ross, is that when you have sex (partnered or solo), your uterus contracts.

When your uterus contracts, it pushes out your uterine lining faster than it’d come out on its own.

Sure, it’s not proven. But what’s the worst thing that comes from giving it a try?

It’s just fun! There isn’t a reason not to

Seriously! It’s doctor-approved. Ross says, “It’s a normal and healthy sexual activity that’s pleasurable and safe every single day of the month.”

Admittedly, masturbating during your period can be a bit messy. Planning ahead can keep you from creating a Law & Order-esque scene.

Use a menstrual cup or discs

Certain menstrual products can be left in during penetration.

Menstrual discs and menstrual cups sit higher up in the body — on the cervix — blocking the blood from trickling down where the penis/dildo/finger is going to go.

Luna adds, “Some people even report that having sex with a menstrual cup in is extra enjoyable because of the ways it puts pressure on their G-spot.”

Just keep in mind that while these menstrual cups and discs look similar to birth control devices like the diaphragm or cervical cap, menstrual products don’t double as birth control.

Wear a tampon during foreplay

“You can wear a tampon and take it out right before penetration,” says Ross.

Note: Taking it out is important. Wearing a tampon during penetrative sex can cause some health concerns.

Focus on clitoral or other external stim

This goes for every day of your menstrual cycle, not just when you’re bleeding, but sex doesn’t have to mean penetrative sex.

“Explore your other erogenous zones,” adds Luna. Use a vibrator, Wartenberg wheel, feather, or your fingers to stimulate your clit, breasts, neck, inner thigh, lower stomach, and armpit.

Put on your comfiest period panties and use a vibe to tease through the fabric

If you’re team period panties, pull on your sexiest pair — because why not dress up for your solo sex sesh? — and use your finger, nails, or fave vibe to pleasure yourself through the crotch.

Hop into the shower or bath and feel things out

If you’re worried staining the sheets or carpet is going to interfere with your pleasure, take it to the shower or tub, suggests Luna. The blood will go right down the drain.

She suggests bringing lube into the shower. “While showers are wet, they actually wash away your body’s natural lubrication, which can cause uncomfortable friction.”

Just be careful: Both blood and lube can be slippery, so consider investing in a shower mat.

Put a condom on your toys or keep toy cleansing wipes or spray nearby

Bringing your buzzy buddy into bed? Cover it with a condom — or finger condom if it’s a small toy like a bullet vibrator — for easy-peasy cleanup.

Or, keep a toy cleaner like the Babeland Toy Cleaner and a box of tissues on hand.

“There is something really powerful and intimate about embracing the mess of period sex,” says Luna. Ready to embrace the bodily fluid?

Lay down a towel

You can designate a couple towels as period sex towels and lay them on the bed before getting it on,” says Luna. “That way you’ll be able to embrace the mess without messing up your sheets.”

Pro tip: Pick patterned or dark colored towels.

Better yet, buy a water repellent throw

You could designate one special towel or blanket as your Sheet Shield and decide not to care if it gets bloody.

You could also invest in a moisture resistant throw like the Liberator Throw, which features an inner moisture barrier.

Keep baby wipes on hand

Will baby wipes save your sheets? No. Will they make cleanup way easier if a shower isn’t available? Yep!

Commit to the mess

“Wear the blood like war paint,” says Luna. “Don’t be afraid to get it on your hands, clothes, body, and mouth.”

It might feel incredibly liberating to embrace your period blood, a fluid you’ve always been taught to hide, she says.

Partnered period sex offers all the same health benefits as solo period sex.

According to Luna, sex when one or both partners are menstruating “can be an incredibly intimate, bonding experience.”

Try mutual masturbation

If you plan on touching yourself, why not invite your partner to watch?

Better yet: Have them touch themselves at the same time. Watching your partner take their pleasure into their own hands? H-O-T.

Plan on penetration

“There’s no reason you can’t have penetrative sex during your periods, if that’s how you have sex,” according to Ross. So if P-in-V (or dildo-in-V), vaginal fingering, or fisting are part of bedroom MO, have at it.

Note: If your partner removes their penis, dildo, or hand and there are clumps or clots of blood, that’s normal, according to Ross.

It’s probably just older, dried blood or some of the uterine lining — you can wipe it off and get back to it.

Consider cunnilingus

Oral sex during menstruation can be super sexy, says Luna. “There’s something very primal and raw about it.”

If you and your partner aren’t fluid-bonded, or your partner doesn’t want a tongue coated in blood, use a dental dam with a tampon or menstrual cup.

Explore anal sex

Your front hole may be bleeding, but your back hole can certainly be free. Keep your menstrual product in and enjoy some anal play.

According to Luna, the slight pressure of a tampon can actually enhance the feel-good sensations of anal.

Sorry, but period sex isn’t synonymous with safe sex.

If you’re using sex toys

“Toys made out of nonporous materials like silicone, ABS hard plastic, metal, and glass are the safest option in general,” Luna says. “Especially during your period, because they can be cleaned completely.”

When used without a condom, toys made out of porous materials like TPR, TPE, jelly, rubber, and PVC can harbor bacteria, which increases the risk of infection.

If you’re with a partner

Having your period doesn’t protect you from transmitting or contracting an STI. In fact, according to Ross, there’s a slightly higher risk for both.

STIs like HIV and hepatitis are transmitted through blood, so contact with the menstrual blood of someone who has one of these viruses may transmit the STI.

Further, your vagina is less acidic during your period than it is when you aren’t on your period. This makes it easier for infectious microbes to survive and thrive in your reproductive tract.

You and your partner’s move: Make sure you both know your current STI status, share that information, then use protection as necessary.

Remember: You can still get pregnant

You can’t get an STI or pregnant if you’re masturbating.

But if you and your partner have penis-in-vagina sex, pregnancy is a risk.

“While it’s less likely that you’ll get pregnant on your period, you still can,” says Ross.

Play it safe and use a reliable birth control method even when you’re bleeding — unless you want to get pregnant, of course.

After period play is finished, be sure to clean yourself, your partner (if they were present and involved), and any toys, clothes, or bedding that were worn and used.

Yourself

If you want to shower, you can rinse your vulva (labia, clit, clitoral hood) with just warm water or warm water and fragrance-free soap.

Don’t wash inside your vagina — it’s a self-cleaning machine.

“Washing the inside of your vagina or douching at any time in your cycle can disrupt the healthy pH balance of the vagina and actually increase the risk of a wicked yeast or bacterial infection,” says Ross.

Your partner

If your partner has a vulva, they can follow the same clean-up protocols above. If they have a penis, Ross suggests they gently wash it with fragrance-free soap.

Your toy(s)

Every sex toy is going to have its own specific instructions.

If your toy is made of the recommended nonporous materials above, it can be washed with either warm water and fragrance-free soap or boiling water.

The material of your bedding, clothes, and other items will determine exactly how you treat and wash it.

As a general rule: The longer you let a stain sit, the harder it is to get out.

The benefits of period sex can’t be O-verstated. Unless you’re squeamish around blood, there’s really no reason not to get it on.

So, take some mess precautions (or not!) and say goodbye to those pesky PMS or period symptoms.


Gabrielle Kassel is a New York–based sex and wellness writer and CrossFit Level 1 Trainer. She’s become a morning person, tested over 200 vibrators, and eaten, drunk, and brushed with charcoal — all in the name of journalism. In her free time, she can be found reading self-help books and romance novels, bench-pressing, or pole dancing. Follow her on Instagram.