How To Have Period Sex That Doesn’t Look Like A Crime Scene

Photographed by Natalia Mantini.
Period sex can be bloody, it can be messy, and it can be incredible. The hormonal changes that come with your period mean that you might see a surge in your libido during that time of the month. Some people even report having more intense orgasms while they’re on their period.
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.

Why does period sex feel so good?

Menstrual blood acts as a natural lubricant, and more lubrication tends to result in better penetrative sex if that's what you're having. Then there are those hormonal changes we mentioned earlier, which can make you feel more turned on than ever. Some people find their vagina and vulva feel more sensitive during their period too. That can be a double-edged sword: For certain people, it may be too sensitive to want to have sex; for others, it might be just sensitive enough to bring on a truly powerful orgasm. The key is to do what feels good and right to you.

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.

Is it safe to have sex on 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.
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 during 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.

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.

What are some period sex essentials?

The act of having sex starts with being in the mood to have sex, and there's no better way to start feeling yourself than putting on some sexy underwear. If you're looking to slip into something a little more comfortable, we highly recommend a pair of absorbent period undies to wear to bed. Nothing reminds you you’re about to have period sex quite like reaching down mid-foreplay to remove a tampon — especially if you're trying to avoid a mess. A pair of absorbent period undies is a perfect solution. This high-waisted pair from THINX is a real winner. It's cut high enough that the waistband doesn't squeeze anything you don't want squeezed (like a swollen uterus, perhaps), but the sheer mesh side panels make it clear they aren't anyone's granny panties. Plus, the fabric is ultra-smooth and soft, so it's comfortable as well as aesthetically pleasing. Oh, and did we mention they absorb up to four tampons worth of blood, so you can wear them all day long?
If you can't get out of your head about getting blood everywhere, 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. But with so much focus on external stimulation please — for the love of your clit — use lube. Especially given how sensitive your vagina and vulva can be during your period, it's always a good idea to have some of the bottled stuff on hand. This luxury lubricant from Lelo is smooth, not sticky or greasy-feeling, so you can get all the external stimulation you want without adding "clit burn" to your list of period symptoms.
Okay, technically speaking, this large waterproof mat is not for period sex, but fluids are fluids, right? Throw down this three-tiered terry mat for guaranteed bed protection from even the wildest period sex positions. You'll never max out its absorption capacity (which holds up to a liter of fluids), and it's made to be comfortable enough for a kid to sleep on, so you won't get any of that weird crinkling sound from other incontinence bedding products. Sure, you could easily throw down a dark-colored towel, but you can cover up to a queen-sized bed with this thing, which is just as comfortable, easily storable, and machine-washable. And if you do somehow accidentally stain your sheets, you can treat a period blood stain with cold water and stain remover.
Honestly, wipes should be a part of your post-sex routine whether you’re on your period or not. They’re an efficient way to clean up without adding to your laundry pile (and no one needs more laundry during their period). Just make sure you’re looking for wipes that are hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, paraben-free, pH-neutral, and don’t contain oil or alcohol, like these compressed, biodegradable towelettes from Maude. They're larger and more durable than your average wipe, making them extra perfect for period sex clean up. Plus, they're gentle enough for your skin, even when it's at its most sensitive. Though it might be tempting to reach inside and try to clean everything out, remember that wipes are safest for external use only. You won't remember how you ever lived without them.
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