Period sex is when a woman engages in sexual activity during menstruation.
Menstruation is defined by mayoclinic.com as: “Every month an egg is released from the ovary during ovulation. It travels down the fallopian tube, where it may be fertilized by a sperm. If fertilized, it implants in the lining of the uterus. If not, the egg and lining are shed during menstruation.”1
Some avoid sex during their period for various reasons, such as it might be too messy, while others say they get “horny” during their periods.2
It is safe to have sex while menstruating,3 and period sex may have benefits, such as easing cramps for some women.4 However, protection, such as condoms and dental dams, is also a consideration since there is still a chance of getting pregnant5 and infections6 during period sex. There are also some precautions involving tampons.
The sourced articles below provide more information on having period sex.
Footnotes: 1. mayoclinic.com, accessed 6/24/2018; 2. “9 Embarrassing Period Questions You’re Afraid to Ask Your Gyno — Answered!” goodhousekeeping.com, 1/9/2016; 3. “Have Great Sex While She’s Menstruating,” askmen.com, 4/29/2016; 4. “Is It Safe To Have Sex During Your Period?” everydayhealth.com, 2/17/2016; 5. “Is It Safe To Have Sex During Your Periods? Tips, Benefits, And Side Effects,” healthline.com, 4/13/2018; 6. “5 Unexpected Things That Can Happen During Period Sex,” bustle.com, 1/27/2016
- How To Properly Clean Your Vagina After Period Sex, To Avoid Any Discomfort
“The best way to tidy up your vagina after period sex — or any sex — is … not to. That’s because, as Dr. Kristin Yates, of Garrison Women’s Health tells Elite Daily, ‘Our vagina technically refers to your vaginal opening, not your vulva, labia, etc. Really, there’s no need to specifically clean your vagina. As some people know — your vagina is self cleaning, using soap or douching is actually counterproductive.'”
Rachel Shatto, elitedaily.com, 3/25/2019
- 5 Menstruation Myths You Must Leave Behind
“Moreover, if you have sex during menstruation without using a condom, the risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection (STI) — including HIV — or a yeast infection increases, due to the hormonal changes that occur at this time. Vaginal-penile sex during a period can also, in some cases, cause inflammation of the penis head — a type of infection called ‘balanitis.’ Still, as long as you take all necessary precautions to avoid an unwanted pregnancy and the transmission of STIs, there is no reason not enjoy sex while on your period — to the contrary, in fact, as sex can help relieve cramps and improve your mood.”
Maria Cohut, medicalnewstoday.com, 2/8/2019
- A Gynecologist Reveals The Surprising Truth About Getting Pregnant On Your Period
“‘Given that eggs are viable for approximately 12 to 24 hours and that sperm are viable for up to five days, a pregnancy should only be able to occur five days before and up to five days after the egg is expected to be released,’ says Dr. Enrique Soto, a fertility specialist and fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. So if you have a ‘typical’ 28-day cycle, no, you probably won’t get pregnant. But, Soto says, ‘A problem with this assumption is that the actual day of the cycle when ovulation occurs can vary from month to month.'”
Caroline Colvin, elitedaily.com, 1/17/2019
- Is The Future Of Period Sex This $400 Blanket?
“When I asked Maria Molland Selby, the Thinx CEO, about the price, she told me it is meant more to be a conversation starter about period sex than something the company expects every woman to bring into her own bedroom. ‘We’re not expecting to sell thousands,’ she said with a laugh. The aim is to take the stigma out of period sex in general, and also to sing its praises; if they also wind up selling lots of blankets—well, all the better.”
Elizabeth Kiefer, glamour.com, 6/21/2018
- Can You Get Pregnant On Your Period?
“However, there are exceptions. The above applies to women who have typical 28 to 30 day or longer cycles. If you happen to be one of the individuals who has a shorter cycle there is a chance you could get pregnant while having sex during your period.”
Online Resource, americanpregnancy.org, 6/12/2018
- Can You Have Sex During A Period?
“Yes, you can have sex when you’re on your period. There are a few risks associated with having sex while you or your partner are on their period. HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) may be passed on more easily, so you should always use a condom. Also, while it’s very unlikely, it’s still possible to get pregnant if you have unprotected sex during your period. This is because some women ovulate early, and sperm can survive inside a woman’s body for up to 7 days.”
National Health Service, nhs.uk, 5/4/2018
- Is It Safe To Have Sex During Menstruation?
“There is a risk of infection when having oral, anal, or vaginal sex, or any form of skin-to-skin genital contact — even during menstruation. … There are two types of infection that may occur due to sexual activity: STIs and problems caused by changes in normal vaginal flora, such as yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis. … Vaginal-penile sex can also spread yeast infections, causing the head of the penis to become inflamed. This condition is called balanitis.”
Lori Smith, Reviewed by Janet Brito, medicalnewstoday.com, 4/30/2018
- Yes, You Should Wear A Condom During Period Sex, Too
“A new survey of condom use and periods from the Kinsey Institute and the fertility app Clue found that condom use drops 15 percent during sex when Aunt Flo comes to town. This happens because some people still believe that you can’t knock a woman up (or catch anything) when she’s menstruating, but that’s just not how fertility, or sexually transmitted infections, work.”
Tracy Moore, melmagazine.com, 4/16/2018
- Is It Safe To Have Sex During Your Periods? Tips, Benefits, And Side Effects
“If you aren’t actively trying to conceive, using protection is a good idea, no matter what part of your menstrual cycle you’re in. Your odds of conceiving are lower during your period, but it’s still possible to become pregnant at this time. You’re most likely to get pregnant during ovulation, which happens about 14 days before your period starts. Yet every woman’s cycle length is different, and your cycle length can change monthly. If you have a short menstrual cycle, your risk of getting pregnant during your period is higher. Also consider that sperm can stay alive in your body for up to seven days. So, if you have a 22-day cycle and you ovulate soon after getting your period, there’s a chance you’ll be releasing an egg while sperm are still in your reproductive tract.”
Stephanie Watson, Medically reviewed by Janet Brito, healthline.com, 4/13/2018
- So That’s Why You Get So Horny During Your Period
“But, unlike when someone goes through menopause, not all hormones wane during your period. You actually experience a small surge in testosterone. While testosterone is known stereotypically as the hormone that makes men want to have sex all the time, cisgender women have low levels of testosterone, too. So the slight uptick in testosterone during menses could cause increased libido for some people. Of course, there may be other factors, too, including the psychological effects of knowing that period sex is (mostly) safe, and the benefit of added lubrication, Dr. [Ob/Gyn Nicole] Bullock says.”
Kasandra Brabaw, refinery29.com, 4/10/2018
- 15 Sex Struggles Only Lesbians Understand
“5. When your periods are NOT synced up. There is nothing worse, in this cruel, cold world than dating someone who is on a different menstrual cycle than you are. That means the for about two weeks out of the month (half the month) you either you have to put towels down and have period sex, or if you’re like me and period sex is not your thing, have no sex. At all.”
Zara Barrie, gomag.com, 10/4/2017
- I Love Period Sex
“The way most people talk about period sex, you’d think it was a natural disaster you’d try and run from as fast as you can — and to be fair, sometimes it feels like a flood. But surely not all women see it that way. In this week’s Sex Talk Realness, Cosmopolitan.com tracked down three women to talk about about what it’s like to love having sex during that time of the month.”
Lane Moore, Carina Hsieh, cosmopolitan.com, 9/15/2017
- When Can I Get Pregnant During My Menstrual Cycle?
“You have the highest chance of getting pregnant on the days leading up to ovulation (when your ovary releases a mature egg) — these are called fertile days. Your egg lives for about 1 day after it’s released from your ovary, and sperm can live in your uterus and fallopian tubes for about 6 days after sex. So you can usually get pregnant for around 6 days of every menstrual cycle: the 5 days before you ovulate, and the day you ovulate. You can also get pregnant a day or so after ovulation, but it’s less likely.”
Planned Parenthood Federation of America, plannedparenthood.org, 5/10/2017
- What Happens When You Have Sex With A Tampon In?
“That’s literally the opposite of true. The person who started this myth up needs to stand in a corner and think about what they’ve done, because tampons don’t do anything to prevent pregnancy. Planned Parenthood has shed light on this before, too. They’re not birth control, and nothing is birth control except birth control, so take your tampons out before having sex.”
Christine Rivas, rebelcircus.com, 1/6/2017
- The New Kind Of Menstrual Cup That Might Make Period Sex Even Easier
“The Flex Company, which devised the product, raised more than $1 million in funds this month, Crunchbase reports, showing there’s some real interest in taking a different approach to sex during that time of the month. But as with any new product, one question keeps coming up: Is this safe?”
Korin Miller, self.com, 8/15/2016
- Have Great Sex While She’s Menstruating
“The first thing you have to do is not freak out or be having sex with a partner who’s uncomfortable. ‘The menstrual taboo continues to linger, but there’s no reason you can’t have sex at that time of the month—in fact, many find that it relieves cramps and feels particularly great. If safer sex is at all relevant for you, it may be more so now, because of the blood (this is an HIV risk, IF the menstruating person has HIV),’ says Carol Queen, Ph.D, Good Vibrations Sex Sexologist.”
Aly Walansky, askmen.com, 4/29/2016
- 9 Things You Need To Know Before Having Period Sex
“But you shouldn’t feel like you can’t have sex at will just because there’s blood coming out of the place where said sex usually takes place. Here, experts share nine things that can help turn period sex into a crazy-good experience.”
Zahra Barnes, self.com, 3/16/2016
- Is It Safe To Have Sex During Your Period?
“The need for lubrication lessens during your period, and some studies show that sex can soothe period-related symptoms, such as cramps. And a study published in 2013 in Cephalalgia concluded that sexual activity may reduce migraine and cluster headache pain for some.”
Amy Kraft, Medically reviewed by Justin Laube, MD, everydayhealth.com, 2/17/2016
- 9 Embarrassing Period Questions You’re Afraid to Ask Your Gyno — Answered!
“4. Why do I get so horny during my period? Really, there’s no single answer to this question. Many women don’t experience a higher sex drive on their period at all. In fact, many have a decreased libido. For those who do feel an extra charge of sexual energy, Dr. [Ob-GYN Allan] Warshowsky says the reasons will differ on an individual basis: ‘It could have to do with hormones such as estradiol, our primary sex hormone, and progesterone, which helps regulate your cycle and peaks toward the beginning of menstruation.'”
Lauren Leonardi, goodhousekeeping.com, 1/9/2016
- What Happens If You Accidentally Have Sex With A Tampon In
“It can be, says women’s health expert Jennifer Wider, M.D. Wider says it’s not uncommon for women to just forget they have a tampon in there before sex, but the problem is what can happen next. ‘The biggest danger is that the tampon gets pushed farther into the vaginal canal, making it very difficult to retrieve,’ she says. … ‘I highly recommend removing the tampon before you engage in sexual activity,’ says Wider. But hey, accidents happen.”
Korin Miller, womenshealthmag.com, 9/16/2015