Just Flow With It!
By: Jacquetta Szathmari
Yes, great period sex is possible.
One of the ironies of period life is craving sex at that time of the month when you may feel the least sexy. It’s a natural urge you should not ignore. Menstruation is a time of significant hormonal fluctuation including an increase in estradiol, a sex hormone present in estrogen that is associated with increased sexual desire. To put it simply--more estrogen, more libido. Your hormones are trying to tell that you can and should be having sex on your period – and we agree!
Periods have a bad rap.
Let’s face it, period sex is a sensitive topic. Irrational fears and societal taboos around menstruation, lead to negative messages which link menstruation to uncleanliness for many. It’s no wonder that many of us believe sex and even foreplay during our time of the month is out of the question. We obsess over a perceived “ick factor” and any increase in libido just results in shame and embarrassment.
We imagine ruined sheets and upholstery. We fear grossing out our partners and ourselves with rivers of blood like the elevator scene in the The Shining. We imagine our own blood cascading over the walls and carpet, but worse – messy, clotted, sticky and foul smelling. A real horror movie.
Forget all that. Period sex is normal, beneficial, and for many is a huge turn on. Let’s look at the reality of sex during menstruation so that you can be comfortable having great sex no matter where you are in your cycle, period.
There Will Be Blood
Ok, so, what about all that blood? Sure, there is going to be some blood, but it’s not as much as you think. While there is no identifiable norm as to how much blood flows during an average period, you can generally expect to excrete between 40 and 80 milliliters, with more than 80ml considered to be a very heavy flow. For perspective, a US shot glass is 1oz, or 30ml. Even if you had your entire period at the moment you’re having sex, it would hardly be more liquid than if you knocked over half a glass of wine in bed, and it could easily be handled by a dish towel.
And remember – blood is not going to be gushing out and spraying all over the place, it's going to trickle out slowly, possibly a bit more than usual. In addition, it will be diluted with whatever natural lubricants the vagina is already producing, so it’s also not going to be as vibrant in color.
Keep Up Appearances
Some people are bothered by the sight of blood, others are nonplussed. If you are extremely squeamish at the sight of blood and do not want to see it during intercourse and foreplay, dim the lights, throw down a dark towel, or use dark sheets and a mattress cover. You could also consider keeping wipes or a moist washcloth by the bedside for a quick clean up.
This also might be a great time to consider sex in the shower, or hot tub (if you’re fancy). Some women find that taking a soak in the tub can temporarily slow their flow to the point that it seems to stop long enough for sexual activity.
Or, let it flow!
Menstrual blood, much like sweat, (another often-maligned body fluid), is associated with sexual arousal and attraction. Yes, you read that right! In fact, some partners find a menstruating woman to be downright irresistible. Menstrual fluid is also a fantastic and free lube, meaning that your body is ready whenever you are. Sex during menstruation can also reduce cramps and discomfort, and can, in some cases, speed up your period shortening the length of time that you are producing menstrual fluid.
A Natural Bouquet
But what about “that smell”? Got that not so fresh feeling? Sounds like you’ve been listening to too much advertising. The metallic scent you are negatively reacting to is not the smell of fresh menstrual blood. That smell develops after oxidation (exposure to air), and exposure to bacteria. It is also present, and can become even more pungent, in the case of dried and drying blood on pads, tampons, and underwear. You can simply eliminate this with intimate washing before sex.
Also, keep in mind that while you may feel embarrassed that your scent changes during your period, your partner may react positively and find it arousing. As always, communication is key; check in with them and see how they feel. It might also be a chance to talk about how you feel as well, and that could put you both at ease. The more relaxed you are the better the sex you are going to have.
Have Your Cake…
While having that conversation, maybe ask about oral. Oral sex during your period is a personal choice. While we cannot speak to flavor, menstrual fluid is no different than other similar bodily fluids, (semen and vaginal discharge), in terms of health and safety. If you and your partner are into it, go for it!
Like semen and vaginal fluids, menstrual blood can harbor STIs and harmful bacteria, however, so it is essential to practice safe sex, including the use of condoms, dental dams, and even surgical gloves.
No fuss. No muss.
Having your period does not have to be an obstacle to having sex as long as you take steps to reduce any anxiety that may arise. Reserve some time to process your feelings around period sex and to discuss your thoughts and desires with your partner. You may find that your expectations are out of step with reality. Make the changes you need to be comfortable. Prepare the room or change the venue, altogether. Prepare yourself mentally and physically. Perform intimate grooming if you feel the need to do so, and use foreplay to reduce any tension you may be experiencing.
If you find that you still have reservations, then communicate that to your partner and switch gears. There are many ways to have orgasmic, satisfying period sex that do not involve vaginal penetration and you can have just as much fun discovering them at any time of the month.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jacquetta Szathmari is a New York based writer and the founder of Dernier Mile, a boutique consultancy providing last minute and last mile solutions for your content-intensive, logistically complex, and totally unique creative projects.
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