Everything You Need to Know About Period Sex

When using protection, having sex during your period is safe and healthy, and it may even help relieve period cramps or shorten the length of your period.

Key takeaways:
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    Having sex during your period is perfectly normal, and many people enjoy it. It may also help to alleviate menstrual cramps.
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    There is a slightly higher risk of developing or transmitting sexually transmitted infections or bloodborne viruses when having sex during your period.
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    While the risk is relatively low, it is possible to become pregnant when having sex during your period, so remember to use protection if you are not trying to conceive.
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    To help mitigate the risks of sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy, use a barrier method of protection, such as a condom.

There is a slight increase in the risk of developing or transmitting sexually transmitted infections and blood-borne viruses, and a very small chance of becoming pregnant.

Is period sex safe?

Yes, having sex during your period is safe and healthy, provided you use protection to prevent sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy (if you're not trying to conceive).

During the reproductive years, people who menstruate can spend around a week per month on their period, which is around 25% of the year. For some people, this is a pretty long time to miss out on having sex. Unless you are in pain or uncomfortable having sex during your period, you don't need to skip having sex during this time.

Many people have an increased libido during their period and like to have sex during this time, and period sex may even help relieve period cramps and can help reduce the length of your period.

Period sex and infections

Having sex during your period can increase your risk of developing and transmitting sexually transmitted infections and bloodborne viruses compared to other times in the menstrual cycle. It is still vital to use protection when having sex during your period to protect yourself against infection.

You may be slightly more prone to developing a yeast infection during your period due to higher estrogen levels and a lower vaginal pH, but having sex during your period is not likely to increase the risk of developing a yeast infection.

Period sex – do you need protection?

Yes, because having sex during your period does not protect you from sexually transmitted infections or bloodborne viruses. Therefore, you will need to use a barrier method of protection if having sex with a new partner or having sex with a partner who is having unprotected sex with others.

Barrier protection, such as a condom or dental dam, is needed to protect against sexually transmitted infections or bloodborne viruses for all types of sex, including vaginal, oral, and anal.

Can you get pregnant on your period?

Yes. While it is not common, you can get pregnant when having sex on your period.

For most people who menstruate, their ovulation cycle is between 28 to 30 days. Therefore, ovulation generally occurs 14 days after the first day of a person's period. As sperm only lives within the female reproductive system for up to five days, you’re unlikely to get pregnant during the first few days of your period. However, it is slightly more likely to happen if you have sex during the last days of your period and even more likely if you have a shorter ovulation cycle.

Some people also experience bleeding around the time of ovulation, which could be mistaken for a period. Having sex during this time will significantly increase your chances of becoming pregnant.

If you are concerned about becoming pregnant, use contraception, including condoms or the birth control pill. If you're looking for a long-term form of contraception, try using an IUD or birth control implant, as these are very effective at preventing pregnancy.

Tips for having sex on your period

If you want to have pleasurable sex during your period, try these tips:

  • Communicate with your partner. Have a conversation with your partner about each other's desires and boundaries regarding period sex. If any partner is not into blood or period sex, it's best to wait to have sex until after your period. While there's no shame in having period sex, it's not for everyone. If you don’t enjoy having sex during your period, that is perfectly fine too.
  • Use a waterproof blanket. If you’re worried about the mess, try lying down a waterproof sex blanket that can be popped into the washing machine after use. If you're looking for less of a clean-up, try having some fun in the shower.
  • Remove any period products. Remember to remove your menstrual cup or tampon before having penetrative sex. If you’re having oral sex, it is fine to leave your cup in if both you and your partner are comfortable with that.
  • Have clean-up tools handy. Keep some wipes or a wet towel on the bedside table for a quick clean up of yourself or your partner post-sex.
  • Use other methods of stimulation. If you're not into penetration during your period, try using clitoral vibrators.
  • Find what positions work for you. Some positions may be a little messy or uncomfortable during your period, so get creative and find what feels good to you.
  • Use protection. Remember to always to use protection and contraception to avoid sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy.
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