Of course, not everyone loves period sex. In fact, one survey indicates that it’s roughly evenly divided: 55% of people thought period sex was “natural or awesome,” while 45% found it “kinda gross.” Even if you’re okay with the blood, some people experience cramps, bloating, pain, or fatigue during their period, and would much rather curl up in bed for a nap.
If you don’t feel up for period sex, no problem — there are plenty of other days in the month. But if you do want to have period sex, here are some tips for having the most fun with the least mess.
The best positions for period sex
Sex positions that work with gravity, including missionary, spooning, and side-by-side, will help minimize mess. But if you love cowgirl, you don't have to give it up — maybe just lay down an extra towel first. And if you're taking it to the shower, try some standing sex positions.
Can you stop your period for sex?
The only way to safely delay your period is by using hormonal birth control to skip your period. If you’re on the pill, you can simply start a new pack instead of taking the placebo pills. "It is absolutely safe to do," Raquel Dardik, MD, clinical associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at NYU Langone Medical Center, previously told Refinery29. You can use the patch, the shot, or any other kind of hormonal birth control similarly: simply start your next dose when you'd usually have your period.
When it comes to other methods for stopping your period, there’s not much that works safely. You may have heard that ibuprofen may delay your period, but the dose needed would be so high that no doctor would advise you to do this: high doses of anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen can be harmful to your stomach lining. Similarly, drinking alcohol may affect your cycle, but this doesn’t mean it's safe to drink to delay your period. You can't simply drink one or two glasses of wine to stop your period a few hours before sex — that won’t work. Drinking apple cider vinegar is another sometimes-suggested home remedy, but there’s no evidence to suggest has any effect on your period, either, and the high acidity can harm your teeth and esophagus. So skip the home remedies — they're not worth the health risks.
Is it safe to have sex on your period?
Any time you have sex, you can still transmit STIs — and that includes period sex. Some research suggests that you may be slightly more susceptible to STIs on your period, because your cervix is more open. But, just like sex while not on your period, you can reduce your risk by using a barrier method like condoms or dental dams, getting tested regularly, and taking any relevant medication to manage or prevent STIs.
Can you get pregnant on your period?
Although the risks of pregnancy are much lower during your period, pregnancy is still possible. When you ovulate, usually around the 14th day of your cycle, your egg leaves your fallopian tube, and it can remain there for about 24 hours. Sperm typically lives for three to five days, but can live for up to seven days inside the body. So if you have sex near the end of your period and ovulate early, you could get pregnant, particularly if you have a shorter than average cycle. Again, this is rare, but not impossible, so it’s best to use birth control to be safe.
When should you have sex on your period?
Your period will be messiest on the days when you have a heavier flow, typically during your first few days. Period sex will be less messy when you have a lighter flow, typically at the end of your period. So if you’re concerned about mess, you might want to have period sex towards the end of your period. But if you and your partner don’t mind getting a little bloody, then go ahead and have period sex at any time.
How to avoid making a mess
There are a lot of ways you can reduce the mess from period sex, or even avoid it entirely. First, you can choose to have sex that doesn’t involve the vagina, so you can keep a tampon or menstrual cup in. You can have your partner rub your clitoris, you two can mutually masturbate (with you focusing on your clitoris), or you can have anal sex. You could also choose another sexual activity that lets you leave your tampon or cup in, like dry-humping.
For another no-mess option, you can wear a diaphragm or certain brands of menstrual cups for penetrative sex (check the instructions to see if it's approved for this use). If you're simply removing your pad, tampon, or cup for sex, there are still mess-reduction tactic you can take. You could have sex in the shower for easy clean-up, or simply lay down a towel on your bed (or, if you’ve got cash to spend, a period sex blanket). If you do accidentally stain your sheets, you can treat a period blood stain with cold water and stain remover.
Are there any benefits to period sex?
The rumors are true: Period sex can reduce menstrual cramps. When you orgasm, your pelvic muscles contract and release, which can help alleviate cramping. Besides that, the same benefits you usually get from sex — pleasure, stress relief, bonding with your partner — also apply during period sex. Plus, period blood provides some all-natural lube. If and your partner are interested in period sex, why not try it? You might be surprised by how much you enjoy it.