Yes, it's completely safe to have sex on your period — including internal (vaginal), external, and oral sex. While many people are deterred due to embarrassment, menstrual symptoms, cramping, or a fear of being "too messy," period sex is actually a lot of fun.
Flex, a period wellness company, conducted a survey of over 500 people and found that 55 percent of respondents thought period sex was "natural" or "awesome." Of the 45 percent who thought period sex was "gross," respondents tended to be older, heterosexual, and Christian.
There are some things to keep in mind when having sex on your period, including safe sex best practices, protection options, and methods for keeping the mess to a minimum (unless you love the mess!).
Below, you'll learn everything you need to know about period sex, including potential benefits, foreplay, and positions.
Benefits of Period Sex
Wanting sexual pleasure on your period is completely normal — and it's good for you. A couple perks worth mentioning:
- Feel-good emotions: According to Oregon Health and Science University, sex can boost your self-esteem, decrease depression and anxiety, reduce stress, improve your sleep, and provide pain relief.
- Period symptom relief: Sex can also play a role in relieving menstrual symptoms like cramps, breast pain, and mental restlessness. In a study launched by Womanizer and Lunette, 70 percent of respondents (341 people) reported that masturbation (a.k.a. solo sex) had an impact on the intensity of period pain — with 93 percent of them reporting solo sex reduced the intensity at least somewhat.
- Lubrication: Blood acts like a natural vaginal lubricant. Lubrication is so important to avoid pain or discomfort during sex, and especially during internal sex. If you struggle with vaginal dryness, period sex can provide relief — but you should also consider talking to your doctor if you experience chronic dryness.
Period Sex Side Effects and Risks
Period sex comes with similar risks and side effects as non-period sex, including pregnancy and STIs. You may also experience some discomfort, which is why it's important to always listen to your body.
- Pregnancy. If you have a vulva and are having internal (vaginal) sex with a penis owner, you can definitely still get pregnant during period sex. You should consider birth control, an IUD, or condoms. If your protection method fails — like a condom breaking — you should consider taking an emergency contraceptive like Plan B.
- STIs. You can still pass on or contract sexually transmitted infections during menstruation. STIs can be passed through vaginal sex, anal sex, or oral sex, says the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Birth control does not prevent STIs, only barrier methods (like condoms and dental damns) and vaccinations can help protect you. The CDC recommends getting tested for STIs at least once a year, but if you have multiple sexual partners or don't always use protection, you should get tested every three to six months.
- Discomfort. Some people don't enjoy sex during their period. You may have too much cramping to relax or repetitive motions on your genitals may leave you feeling a bit chafed or uncomfortable. Listen to your body and if period sex isn't for you, enjoy rest during your cycle. If you do have sex on your period, make sure to take out your tampon before any kind of internal sex (as in fingering or using vibrators, toys, or a penis in the vagina) to avoid pushing the tampon too far back, or potentially getting it stuck. A tampon can never get "lost," but you should remove it as quickly as possible, or visit your healthcare provider for help.
How to Have Period Sex
The best way to have sex is however you and your partner feel most comfortable (consider these positions for period sex). But there are a few strategies that will make the experience even better.
- Have an open conversation before you start. If you're new to having sex on your period, it's always worth sitting down with your partner in a non-sexual setting to talk about preferences and boundaries. Are you into oral? Do you prefer using a condom or dental dam? How do you and your partner feel about having blood on your hands, bodies, or the sheets? Gauging your comfort levels is a great way to see where your interests overlap and where compromises might be made.
- Pay attention to foreplay. Foreplay is one of the best, and most important, parts of sex. Foreplay is the sensual, physical, and emotional acts that lead up to genital-focussed sex. This can look like kissing, massage, nipple play, and extended attention to erogenous zones like the neck, head, tummy, and thighs. "The most satisfying sex is when it's been delayed and extended, and then your whole body is awake and alive," sex and relationship coach Kim Anami previously told POPSUGAR. "And you're much more likely to have full-body orgasms when you do that because you've involved your whole body and not just your genitals."
While on your period, you can incorporate foreplay ideas that make you more comfortable with menstrual blood. You can bathe with your partner and take the opportunity to clean away blood while enjoying gentle touch and deep kissing. You may fall on the other end of the spectrum and find blood play erotic. Period blood can be used in foreplay by using it for a massage on the belly, inner thighs, or anywhere else that turns you on.
- Use towels to reduce the mess. Period sex is fun, but it can get messy. Consider putting a towel down under you and your partner(s) to make clean up easier.
- Head to the shower. If you're worried about your menstrual flow getting in the way or are just into water play, the shower is a great option for an intimate, and cleaner experience.
- Don't forget these hygiene best practices. It's completely safe to use toys like vibrators or dildos during period sex, but you should always clean your sex toys before and after each use. Oral sex is also fine during menstruation — you can wear a menstrual cup or tampon during oral to reduce blood flow if you prefer, but it's not necessary. For internal (vaginal) sex, take out your tampon or menstrual cup to avoid discomfort (or at worst, forcing a tampon too far into the vagina).