For all the sexual taboos that have been dismantled, period sex is still a big one. But whether you're nervous about venturing into the wide world of period sex for the first time or you’ve been an enthusiast for years but still worry about the logistics, we're here to tell you: Fret not! There are plenty of great reasons to indulge in the joys of sex during your period, and a ton of ways to maximize pleasure when doing it.
"More comfort around messiness can break down barriers to sexual enjoyment," says Shannon Chavez, a psychologist and certified sex therapist in Los Angeles. "Studies have shown that people who have higher arousal are less grossed out by bodily fluids and ‘messy period sex.’”
Here's everything you need to know about how to have sex on your period.
Can you have sex on your period?
First things first, a lot of people still question whether you can have sex on your period.
The answer is a definite yes. In fact, it can be particularly pleasurable. The hormonal changes that happen during your period—namely increased estrogen and testosterone levels—lead to intensified arousal (and sensitivity). “Your vagina is actually more open and receptive at this time, so if there was a position you were trying to do, but it didn't work so well in the past, now is the time,” says Carlen Costa, sexologist and relationship expert. (For inspiration, check out real women’s favorite positions for explosive orgasms.)
Can you have oral sex on your period?
Having oral sex on your period is perfectly safe. Your main concern is probably the mess, but luckily, there are plenty of options like menstrual cups and menstrual discs (more on those below) that will help keep your oral action blood free. Oral sex is also the perfect time to focus on stimulating the clitoris, which (in case you need the anatomy refresher) sits outside the vaginal canal on your vulva.
What are the benefits of having period sex?
One of the most obvious benefits of period sex is increased pleasure. “When you have your period, your hormones are in overdrive, which means you might find it even easier to orgasm from touch or penetration,” says Emily Morse, sex therapist and host of the Sex With Emily podcast.
Orgasm can also help ease any period cramps. “Orgasm will release feel-good chemicals like oxytocin, dopamine, and endorphins—our body’s natural painkillers—that can ease the pain of menstrual cramps and bloating,” says Chavez. Plus, some women find period sex to be more enjoyable overall. “One of the great things about period sex is that you don't need any lube because you’re already incredibly wet, which means some positions are actually easier for some women to be in,” says Costa. “Some experts suggest sticking to one position so as not to create a mess, but I say go for it," she adds.
There's also some evidence that having sex on your period can shorten it. With every orgasm that shoots oxytocin into your body to alleviate cramps, the contraction that accompanies the orgasm helps to flush out the uterine lining faster than if left to its own devices. This isn’t to suggest that one romp will lead to your period being gone by the morning, but it will shorten it enough that you might notice a difference.
Can I get pregnant having sex on my period?
It is possible to get pregnant during your period, so using your birth control method of choice is very important.
“For women with shorter cycles, 21 to 24 days opposed to the typical 28 to 30 days, the risk is higher,” says registered nurse Gigi Gaytan. “Sperm can live for about two to three days, sometimes even up to five days, so if sex occurs at the end of the period and ovulation starts early with the sperm still alive, there is the chance the woman can get pregnant.” Use a condom (even if you have a LARC).
Period sex tips:
Okay, so you want to try period sex. Here's how to make it as pleasurable as possible.
1. Take advantage of heightened sensitivity.
“Remember that anticipation often heightens arousal and can make your orgasms even more intense," says Morse. Translation: Indulge in extra foreplay. "Although you might not be comfortable receiving oral sex, you can guide your partner to spend time playing with your nipples, teasing your inner thighs, and gently breathing on your clitoris, which can be just the stimulation you need to intensify your orgasms.”
2. Soap up.
Even though “messy” sex can be some of the hottest sex, if it makes you self-conscious, some people find the cleansing shower setting helps loosen inhibitions.
3. Protect your bed.
If you're worried about staining, you can cover up your regular sheets with a blanket to retrofit your bed for period sex. “You can even get special bedding such as a rubber sheet to protect your bed,” says Chavez.
4. Try a menstrual disc.
Unlike menstrual cups or tampons, menstrual discs can be worn during sex. The flexible disks are inserted into the vaginal canal just like a tampon but sit higher up into your vagina, at the vaginal fornix. This allows you to have penetrative sex without the mess.
5. Try new positions.
“When you‘re on your period, some women report more pelvic congestion, which is a heaviness that [may] trigger arousal,” says Costa. “This is why some women report wanting to have more sex while on their period, versus none at all.” Gentle positions like spooning can be a perfect way to enjoy sex right now, adds Morse: “You can play with the depth of penetration and different angles to make sure it works for you.” (The same goes for missionary!)
6. Get a little kinky.
If one of you is squeamish about blood, try using a blindfold. “Your period is the perfect time to elevate sex by exploring other senses like sight and sound,” says Shallon Lester, author of dating memoir Exes and Ohs and YouTube sex and dating expert. “You don‘t have to go full-on Fifty Shades with all kinds of leather contraptions—just peel off your shirt and toss it over your partner’s eyes, then pin their hands and tell them they can’t move or peek. Every sense will be heightened, and you can play around with sensations, from nails to nibbles, with more bang for your buck.”
7. Experiment with less obvious erogenous zones.
“Not everyone is into [period sex], but that doesn't mean you have to eliminate sex altogether,” says Costa. “There are plenty of other ways to seek pleasure with one another that don‘t have to do with [actual intercourse].” Get started heating things up by exploring some of these surprising erogenous zones. We‘re talking ears, hands, stomach—even the bottoms of the feet.
8. Always use a condom.
Although your cervix is closed most of the time, it opens during childbirth and when you’re menstruating. “One function of the cervix is to protect your uterus from bacteria that may enter the vagina during intercourse,” says board-certified registered nurse Jennifer Tine. “During periods it opens slightly to allow the uterus to shed. This opens a small gateway for bacteria to enter the uterus, increasing the possibility of infection.” So, even if you’re in a committed relationship, you still want to use a condom during period sex. The last thing you want is an infection you could have avoided, especially in that part of your body. Make sure all period sex is safe period sex.
9. Embrace the “try everything once” mentality.
Only 55% of adults engage in sex during that time of the month, according to a study by Flex. If you haven't tried it, you just might find that you really like it. For many couples who haven't tried period sex, giving it a go can be an exciting chance to overcome a fear of the unknown. Who knows? You just might love it. And if not, you never have to do it again.
Originally Appeared on Glamour