Period sex taboo: A sexual health educator breaks it down

Published on: 6 December 2021, 23:11 pm IST

What does the thought of period sex make you feel? Do you wrinkle your nose with disgust or remain nonchalant? Read on to know if it's safe or not.

period sex
Let's break some myths around period sex. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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Some women – and maybe men too – may be grossed out by the idea of indulging in period sex, but a research conducted with 2,000 British women has indicated that it gives them a heightened sense of pleasure. Yet, they may have faced shaming for even suggesting it.

The study was conducted by a period brand and a dessert company in an attempt to stigmatize attitudes towards menstrual sex. Of the 2,000 women surveyed, only 15 per cent said they have had sex while on their period, whereas 70 per cent have never even suggested period sex with a partner, according to a report by The Sun.

period sex
Some people may not be comfortable with menstrual blood during sex. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

While that may be a story of Britain, having sex while bleeding is considered a taboo by many in India too, mostly because period blood is considered “unclean”. According to menstrual and sexual health educator Artika Singh, “There is nothing ‘dirty’ about period blood – making the taboo itself scientifically incorrect”.

Period sex is a matter of personal choice and comfort

Singh, founder of Taarini Foundation, a non-profit working in the area of menstrual health management and sexual health advocacy, has shared some facts to help people make a choice when it comes to period sex.

1. Sex drive and types of sex

The hormones associated with your menstrual cycle also affect your sex drive. Many menstruators have reported a higher sex drive during or right before a period. However, each menstruator has a different experience and can take their own conditions into consideration.

It is important to mention here that ‘sex’ can mean different things for different people. It can be solo sex (masturbation), penetrative sex, oral sex, etc. Any/all kinds of sex are possible during periods. In fact, some forms may not even include contact with the vagina. Depending on the kind of sex that the menstruator decides to engage in, it can be made safer by following simple steps.

period sex
Have you tried period sex? Image courtesy: Shutterstock

2. Pregnancy and period sex

Contrary to popular belief, pregnancy can occur if one engages in unprotected penetrative vaginal sex without a condom or another form of contraception.

Pregnancy occurs when a sperm fuses into the ova. The ova persists in the body for differing number of days from one person to another. While the chances of pregnancy during a period sex are very low, they still do exist.

Unplanned pregnancy can be avoided by simply opting for a contraceptive of choice if engaging in penetrative sex or engaging in another form of sex. Pleasure is pleasure – no matter how it is experienced.

3. Periods and risk of STIs

Just like any other time of the month, different types of partnered-sex during periods also comes with a risk of Sexually Transmitted Infections. In fact, science suggests that pH changes in the vagina during periods and make the vaginal environment more conducive for growth of pathogens, and can thus lead to infections easily.

But there are multiple ways to make partnered sex safer. These include:

Using a condom for penetrative sex and/or anal penetration
Using a dental dam for oral sex
Testing regularly (both partners)

4. Scared of the blood-y mess?

We often come across menstruators and/or partners who don’t enjoy seeing blood or are scared of it. Like we mentioned earlier, sex is NOT always about vaginal penetration. There are several ways to have pleasurable experiences without coming in direct contact with menstrual blood.

  • Lay down a towel before you begin!
  • Using a condom has multiple benefits: prevents unplanned pregnancy, STI prevention and cuts direct contact with blood
  • Use a vibrator/stimulator instead of your hands. Adding a condom with your vibrator/stimulator makes cleaning afterwards easier! Use it on your own or with a partner
  • Menstrual cups can come in handy! For menstruators who feel comfortable using cups, stimulation of the vulva and clitoris can happen without coming in contact with blood
  • Use this time to explore other forms of stimulation and sex!
  • Try over the cloth stimulation! This can be tried over the underwear/pants or while keeping cloth pads on. Avoid stimulation which involves pushing non-biodegradable pads into the vulva and/or vagina
  • Use your shower time for more than just bathing! Go solo or with a partner – running water will keep the blood away.

Also Read: What’s it like to have sex during periods? 10 Indian women answer

period sex
The discharge can act as a natural lubricant. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

5. Pros and more pros:

Having solo and/or partnered sex on your period is completely alright. In fact there are also some benefits!

  • Menstrual blood can act as a natural lube! Feel free to pair it with non-scented or unflavored lube for internal use
  • Chemicals released during sexual arousal and/or climax are known to be natural pain relievers and have been reported to ease cramps for some women
  • Bodily chemicals released as a response to pleasure in the body are also known stress relievers and soothe the mood

The last words

Period sex is absolutely normal to engage in and can be made safer in simple ways, but just because it’s okay to do, it doesn’t mean you HAVE to do it, asserts Singh.

“The final call on whether to have sex or not lies with the person(s) involved. Each woman has a different relationship with their body and menstrual cycle – it can be triggering for some to express themselves sexually while on their periods. Many others like to spend their period time resting and not engaging in any physical activity which may include sex,” she adds.

Assess your personal preference, comfort and safety before you decide whether period sex is for you, or not!

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