Is It Safe To Have Sex During Periods?
The big question: Is period sex safe?
Some people worry about hygiene during period sex, while others wonder about the potential spread of infections. On the other hand many people mistakenly believe that this is the one time in the month that it is impossible to get pregnant. The truth is that to mitigate the risks of both unintended pregnancy and STIs, it’s best to use condoms even while on your period. While period blood itself is not inherently impure or infectious, if someone has an STI, it can be transmitted whether or not one has their period, and contact with blood can raise the risk of transmission.
Also, while it is unlikely that one can get pregnant while on their period, it is not impossible. Sperm can live in the body for up to 5 days, so for example, if you’re at the end of your period, and you have a short cycle, ovulation can be a few days away, and sperm could potentially survive till then. Also sometimes mid cycle spotting can be confused for a period, and cycles can be irregular. For all these reasons, if unintended pregnancy is a concern, and / or if you and your partner have not been tested for sexually transmitted infections, it’s always best to use condoms. Menstruating or not.
Of course, there’s also more to unpack. Period sex precautions go beyond using a condom too. Ensuring menstrual sex safety is vital for your physical as well as emotional well-being. If you’re contemplating period sex, understanding this stuff can help you to fully enjoy the experience without any apprehensions.
The first step is to assess how comfortable you are with the idea of it. Then, equip yourself with the right information. Misinformation can cause as much harm as an absence of information, if not more. The most important thing is getting the facts straight and having open conversations with your partner about your comfort levels and boundaries.
Safety Tips For Pleasurable Period Sex
1. Communication and Consent
The first safety tip for sex during menstruation is naturally, communication and consent. Communication is always the first and the most important step in any sexual encounter. Open communication ensures that desires and actions are shared and aligned. It also confirms your boundaries and helps you manage concerns and expectations. This is indispensable to maintain a healthy relationship and intimacy.
Both partners need to be comfortable with anything you plan on doing together. If either partner is not, pause. Ask them how they’re doing. Don’t pressurise each other to do anything either party feels hesitation around. If hesitation around period sex from either party comes from a place of misogynistic disgust rather than a place of simply not being in the mood emotionally or physically or not feeling ready, safe, etc, you can perhaps talk about and unpack those biases together. Communication is so valuable, and can be key to understanding each other and yourselves better.
2. Hygiene During Period Sex
It’s always a great idea to have a shower before sex— it gets you all clean and fresh and also relaxes you. At the very least, both partners should wash their hands and their genitals :)
If you’re using toys, be sure to clean them properly before and after use. (If you want to deep dive into how to clean your toys, we have a whole blog post on it which you should read if you haven’t already 😎)
If you’re concerned about period sex staining your sheets, you can simply place a clean and easy- to-wash towel on the bed.
3. Protection and Barrier Methods
Can you get pregnant from period sex? As we mentioned, contrary to popular belief, there still exists a chance of pregnancy if one has unprotected sex during their period. The chance is miniscule for most people, but may be higher for people who have irregular periods. So, why risk it?
Over and above that, there may be a greater risk of infection transmission. Some infections transmit more efficiently through blood. This is not to scare you, but to remind you that condoms are quintessential for menstrual sex safety. While other methods of contraception like birth control or IUDs may prevent unwanted pregnancies, barrier methods are what will provide you protection against STI’s and help you enjoy your experience with complete peace of mind.
Along with safer period sex, many also wonder how to restrict stains on the sheets. If you’re not one for shower sex, or want to have sex in positions that keep you more comfortable on the bed, use towels or place dark-coloured sheets as your bedding. This can make cleanup afterwards a lot more manageable.
Periods, for most menstruators, provide natural lubrication. But for others, there may still be some dryness. This can also be exacerbated if you’re using tampons since they work by absorbing all the fluids.
Among other period sex precautions is taking care of cramps or discomfort. Now, you might be thinking, if periods are already painful for someone, why would they want to have sex? Of course, there is no pressure to have sex while on your period if you prefer not to or feel so out of sorts already with cramps and other menstrual symptoms that the only thing you want to snuggle with is your hot water bottle. However, for some folks, their desire for sex actually increases during menstruation. And oh, having an orgasm can actually relieve cramps. They also release happy hormones which make us manage our emotions better. If you do have painful period cramps, know that you can also choose to take an over-the-counter pain reliever or consult your doctor for other pain relief solutions.
The last of our tips for period sex is an obvious one - cleanup! Pee after sex, as you usually would, and jump into the shower for a warm wash down. When you’re both in the mood to do some laundry you can wash your sheets or towel if they got a little messy :)
Q: Can you get pregnant from period sex?
A: While the chances are lower, it's still possible to get pregnant during your period, especially if you have irregular cycles. To reduce this risk, you can use condoms.
Q: Is it safe to have sex during periods?
A: Having sex during your period can slightly increase the risk of STI transmission if an STI is present. Using condoms can help mitigate this risk.
Q: How can I make period sex more comfortable for my partner?
A: Ensuring open communication with your partner will always help. Discuss your comfort levels with clarity. If you experience excessive friction, use water-based lubrication. You may choose relatively simpler positions and consider putting a pillow or a rolled-up towel under the back for greater comfort.
Q: Can period sex relieve menstrual cramps?
A: Some individuals find that orgasm and sexual activity can provide relief from menstrual cramps. However, this varies from person to person.
Q: How can I ensure a mess-free experience?
A: Hygiene during period sex goes a long way . Wash up before and after, and consider using a towel or dark-coloured sheets on the bed so your bedding is easier to clean after :)