Though it may pose some logistical concerns, there's no scientific evidence that having sex during your period is harmful to your health. Some women even find that having intercourse while menstruating brings several benefits and is more pleasurable than it is at other times.
It's important to remember, though, that just because your body is eliminating your uterine lining because an egg was released but not fertilized doesn't mean you can't get pregnant while you have your period. Likewise, concerns about sexually transmitted infections are the same regardless of the time of the month.
Benefits of Period Sex
Having sex while on your period has several benefits that are due to physiological changes that occur in response to intercourse.
Cramping during your period occurs because the uterus is contracting to shed its lining. Many women find that orgasms may relieve their menstrual cramps because the uterine muscles contract and then release, easing the constant state of muscle tension during this time. And, of course, sex triggers feel good endorphins, which can get your mind off the pain and discomfort.
A Shorter Period
Muscle contractions during orgasms push uterine contents quicker. That means you could have shorter periods if you are having period sex.
Studies shows that sexual activity can partially or completely relieve headaches.
Researchers aren’t sure why this occurs, but they speculate the rush of endorphins during sex helps to numb headache pain.
If your vagina is usually on the dry side, menstrual flow can act as a natural lubricant, making sex more comfortable and reducing the need for lubrication products.
While the chance of getting pregnant during your period is low, it is still possible. Some women may have shorter menstrual cycles and/or menstrual irregularities, which may impact when the ovary releases a new egg. In addition, sperm can stay alive in the reproductive tract for up to five days, according to the American Pregnancy Association.
So, fertilization may occur well after you might expect it to.
If you aren’t trying to get pregnant, contraception is still a good idea.
Using a condom to protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is also advisable. Having unprotected sex during your period—like at any time—can increase the risk.
It's important to remember to remove a tampon before having sex. A forgotten tampon can get pushed further into the vagina and potentially cause a bacterial infection that can unnoticed until it has progressed. Furthermore, a tampon that is too deep in the body may need to be removed by a doctor.
There is no denying that sex during your period can get a bit messy.
With a little bit of pre-planning, you can reduce the amount of mess.
Stick to Light Days
If you know that days 3 to 5 of your period are lighter, try having sex on those days. However, if sex on day 1 of your period doesn’t bother you or your partner, go for it.
Decrease the Flow
To minimize the amount of blood in your vagina during sex, you could try using a menstrual cup—a relatively small, flexible device that is an alternative to tampons and pads.
It essentially collects the blood as it passes through the cervix and keeps the vagina relatively clean.
Most reusable menstrual cups need to be taken out before sex, but the soft disposable do not. Your partner shouldn’t feel the cup, and there shouldn’t be any leaks during intercourse. However, some women may feel discomfort using this sort of device during sex, because the vagina may feel crowded and/or there may be pain.
If you use a menstrual cup, confirm with your doctor that it is safe to use during sex.
Note: The menstrual cup does not protect against pregnancy.
Another option for decreasing menstrual flow is the vaginal contraceptive sponge. It traps blood in the upper part of the vagina just like the menstrual cup. Though it may not as effective at collecting the blood, it’s likely more comfortable. It also has the added benefit of preventing pregnancy.
The menstrual cup and the sponge will not protect you against STIs.
Condoms (male or female) are the best method for protection.
Both of the menstrual cup and vaginal contraceptive sponge should be removed after sex.
Have Towels and Tissues Handy
Before having sex, place some towels under you to protect your sheets and mattress, and keep tissues nearby so you can wipe yourself when you're done.
Opt for Missionary Position
Lying on your back during sex can lessen blood flow. Be careful about deep penetration because the cervix is lower and more sensitive during this time of the month. If things start to hurt, let your partner know and proceed slowly.
Try Shower Sex
The flow of a running shower can help wash away menstrual flow as it appears, helping with the mess factor.
Using your hands during foreplay can be messy when you are on period. If this bothers you or your partner, consider other ways to get one another aroused.
What About Oral Sex?
Having oral sex during your period is safe. To minimize the mess you could use the , menstrual cup, contraceptive sponge, or a tampon. Just remember to take out whatever you use when you're done.
If you don't want to put anything in your vagina, you could use a dental dam, which is a cut square of latex that can be purchased as is or made by cutting a condom.
Dental dams can also help prevent against STIs.
A Word From Verywell
Not everyone enjoys period sex, so talk to your partner ahead of time and find out how your partner feels.
Some religions and cultures don’t believe in having intercourse while a woman is on her period, and it is important to respect your partner’s feelings and beliefs.
Discussing concerns and feelings ahead of time gives both partners an understanding of expectations, considerations, and concerns.