Unless it troubles you, there’s no need to avoid sexual activity during your period. Though period sex can be a bit messy, it is safe. It can even have some benefits.

You’ll get a menstrual period about once a month during your reproductive years. Having sex when you’re menstruating can actually offer a few advantages, including relief from menstrual cramps.

Read on to learn more about sex during your period.

Having sex during your period has a few upsides:

1. Relief from cramps

Orgasms may relieve menstrual cramps. Menstrual cramps are a result of your uterus contracting to release its lining. When you have an orgasm, the muscles of your uterus also contract and then release. That release should bring some relief from period cramps.

Sex also triggers the release of chemicals called endorphins, which make you feel good. Plus, engaging in sexual activity occupies your mind, which may help take it off your menstrual discomfort.

2. Shorter periods

Having sex may make your periods shorter. Muscle contractions during an orgasm push out the uterine contents faster. That could result in shorter periods.

3. Increased sex drive

Your libido changes throughout your menstrual cycle, thanks to hormonal fluctuations. While many people say their sex drive increases during ovulation, which is about 2 weeks before your period, others report feeling more turned on during their period.

4. Natural lubrication

You can put away the K-Y during your period. Blood acts as a natural lubricant.

5. It might relieve migraine attacks

According to one 2017 study, about half of women living with migraine get migraine attacks during their periods.

Although most people with menstrual migraine avoid sex during their attacks, a 2013 study found that many of those who do have sex say it partially or completely relieves their attacks.

The biggest downside to having sex during your period is the mess. Blood can get on you, your partner, and the sheets, especially if you have a heavy flow.

Aside from dirtying the bed, bleeding may make you feel self-conscious. Anxiety over making a mess can take some or all of the fun out of sex.

Another worry about having sex during your period is the risk of transmitting a sexually transmitted infection (STI), like hepatitis. This virus lives in blood and may be transmitted through contact with infected menstrual blood.

Using condoms every time you have sex can reduce your risk of transmitting and contracting STIs.

If you plan to have sex during your period and you’re wearing a tampon, you need to remove it beforehand. A forgotten tampon can get pushed so far up into your vagina during sex that you’ll need to visit a doctor to have it removed.

If you’re not actively trying to conceive, using a barrier method, like a condom, is a good idea, no matter what part of your menstrual cycle you’re in.

Your odds of conceiving are lower during your period, but it’s still possible to become pregnant at this time.

You’re most likely to get pregnant during ovulation, which happens about 2 weeks before your period starts. Yet every person’s cycle length is different. Your cycle length can even change monthly.

If you have a short menstrual cycle, your chances of getting pregnant during your period is higher. Also consider that sperm can stay alive in your body for up to 7 days.

So, if you have a 22-day cycle, for example, and you ovulate soon after getting your period, there’s a chance you’ll be releasing an egg while sperm are still in your reproductive tract.

Using barrier methods, like condoms, help protect you against STIs. Not only can you contract an STI during your period, but you can also more easily transmit one to your partner. Some viruses, like hepatitis, live in menstrual blood.

Have your partner wear a latex condom every time you have sex to reduce your odds of getting pregnant and contracting an STI.

If you or your partner are allergic to latex, there are other forms of protection you can use. You can also ask your pharmacist or doctor for recommendations.

Here are a few tips to make period sex a more comfortable and less messy experience:

  • Be open and honest with your partner. Tell them how you feel about having sex during your period and ask how they feel about it too. If either of you is hesitant, talk about the reasons behind the discomfort.
  • If you have a tampon in, remove it before you start fooling around.
  • Spread a dark-colored towel on the bed to catch any blood leaks. Or, have sex in the shower or bath to avoid the mess entirely.
  • Keep a wet washcloth or wet wipes by the bed to clean up afterward.
  • Have your partner wear a latex condom. It can prevent pregnancy and STIs.
  • If your usual sexual position is uncomfortable, try something different. For example, you may want to try lying on your side with your partner behind you.

Don’t let your period put a halt to your sex life. If you do a little prep work, sex can be just as enjoyable during those 5 or so days as it is the rest of the month.

You might be surprised to find that sex is even more exciting during your period.

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