What is a period?
For those born biologically female, the beginning of the menstrual cycle occurs sometime after puberty. Having a period is a sign that the body is matured to the point where reproduction is possible.
The menstrual period occurs every 28-35 days or so. Each month, an ovary releases an egg, ready to be fertilized. A cocktail of hormones primes the body for pregnancy. The uterus lining thickens, your breast may feel tender and swollen, and you might feel fatigued or experience cramping.
If sperm reaches the egg at the right time, the egg is fertilized, and the egg-bearer becomes pregnant. If pregnancy does not occur, the vagina sheds the lining of the uterus in the form of menstrual blood. This shedding can last anywhere from three to seven days.
Ovulation is the part of the cycle in which the egg is released. This is the most fertile part of the cycle. Once the egg is released from the ovary, or the egg storage center, it travels down the fallopian tube toward the uterus. If the egg meets sperm during this trip, the sperm fertilizes the egg. A fertilized egg will “hatch” in nine months – in the form of a baby! The ovary generally releases an egg about 12-16 days before your next period.
Can you get pregnant if you have sex while menstruating?
Short answer: Yes.
If you’re trying to get pregnant, your period is not the most fertile time of your cycle. It never hurts to practice, but you’ll be at your most fertile during ovulation, which typically occurs about two weeks before your next period.
If you’re trying to avoid pregnancy, the likelihood of becoming pregnant during your period is relatively low. It is entirely possible and has happened, however. Also, sometimes other types of bleeding can occur. If spotting is mistaken for menstruation, you may be having sex during a more fertile time in your cycle than you thought.
Other factors can contribute to the likelihood of conception during menstruation. Many various bodily changes can cause the ovulation period to fluctuate, like breastfeeding, eating disorders, exercise and common pelvic disorders. Additionally, sperm can live in the body for three to five days.
If you have unprotected sex, you always run the risk of getting pregnant. What’s more, it’s always possible to contract an STI. If you’re not and taking another form of birth control to prevent pregnancy, wear a condom if you have sex on your period. It makes cleanup a snap, too!
How do I track my period?
Get a calendar and start marking the days at the onset of your first day of bleeding. This is going to be the official start date of your cycle. Keep track of each day bleeding occurs. You may also want to take note of other symptoms like energy levels and irritability. Count the days until your next period.
Keep track for a few months, and take note of any patterns that emerge. Some people get their period on a regular schedule to the day (or even hour). Others are less regular. The more exactly aligned your dates, the more precisely you’ll be able to predict when you’ll be fertile. This is important whether you’re trying to get pregnant or actively avoiding pregnancy. A shift by just a day or two in your period will also result in a shift in your fertile window.
Other indicators of ovulation include increased body temperature and thicker vaginal discharge. You can also purchase ovulation predictor kits from any drug store to test your hormone levels.
There are several free apps available to help track your period and predict fertility. Check out the Clue, MyFlo or Glow apps.
Can you have sex while menstruating?
Short answer: Yes.
It’s perfectly fine and normal to have sex when one or both people are on their period. There are a few small health risks that increase when you’re menstruating, but on the whole, for most people, the biggest risk is to your sheets.
OB-GYN Jessica Shepherd, MD, says that during menstruation, “the possibility of transmission of diseases that are bloodborne is increased because of the presence of blood.” To prevent this, wear a condom unless you’re monogamous and you and your partner are certain that neither of you has any conditions like HIV or hepatitis.
Aside from health concerns, some folks prefer not to have sex during menstruation. Sometimes the side effects from that flood of hormones, like cramps, headaches and the dire need to cuddle up in sweatpants and eat chocolate cake make the idea of sexual activity seem less than appealing. Some people would prefer to wait until the deluge turns into more of a trickle. But there’s nothing inherently bad, unclean or unhealthy about having sex during a period. It isn’t yucky; it can just get a little messy. But what fun is sex that isn’t a bit dirty?
What are the benefits of having sex while on your period?
The benefits of sexual activity can ease some of the discomfort associated with menstruation. Less lubricant is needed since things will naturally already be wet down there. Having orgasms can relieve cramps. Contractions that occur in the uterus during an orgasm may also reduce the length of your menstrual period. The release of endorphins can boost your mood and ease tension aches and pains. And the release of oxytocin and dopamine fostered by sexual activity with a partner can make you feel a sense of connection and well being within your relationship, which can help chase any period-induced blues away.
How Do I Have Sex On My Period?
Talk to your partner first and make sure they know you’re on your period. Sometimes sexual activity can cause bleeding if you’re close to your usual start time, but if you know it’s already happening, don’t surprise them. If your partner is hesitant, don’t pressure them, but it’s okay to ask them why they’re uncomfortable. Menstruation is a natural bodily process, and it isn’t gross or shameful.
Put down a towel before you begin. Take a trip to the bathroom to remove tampons or dispose of pads. Use a wipe to freshen up.
Some positions may be less comfortable while you’re on your period, especially positions that enable really deep penetration. Take control by getting on top, or choose a position that fosters more shallow penetration, like spooning or standing up. You can also avoid the mess altogether by doing it in the shower or bathtub!
Another amazing option for period sex is to use a menstrual cup. Reusable soft cups like Fun Factory’s menstrual cup are silicon vessels that rest comfortably inside your vagina, held in place by your pelvic muscles. Cups are becoming a popular alternative to pads and tampons, especially because of their environmentally friendly nature, among other benefits. The cup, which ends in a soft taper, won’t poke out when you’re getting ready to get down. You can leave the cup in during all sorts of forms of external foreplay – your partner can use their hands, mouth or even toys on your clit and vulva while you lay back and enjoy without fear of making a mess. The Fun cup will even hold its seal through very shallow penetration with fingers or smaller internal vibrators.
If you don’t have a sexual partner, you can enjoy all the benefits of having an orgasm without the mess – you can totally use a clit vibrator while wearing a tampon or a cup to get that sweet endorphin rush without having to clean up after.
Being on your period shouldn’t mean that your sex life needs to be put on hold. With a few minor adjustments, you can still enjoy a healthy, vivacious roll in the hay.