Sex on your period: Fact or Fiction?


Sex during periods. As a Sexual Wellness Specialist (formerly CHECS), I am asked about this subject a lot.

“Do other couples do it?” “How does it work?” “Will I get pregnant?”

There are some myths and half-truths floating around about sex during a period, so I’m going to try to set the record straight…

Can you have sex on your period?

Yes. But like all issues surrounding sex, communication is critical. This means checking in with your partner. Depending on whether you’re the one menstruating or not, questions might include: “How do you feel during your period? Would you ever want to have sex while you’re menstruating?” or “I’m on my period right now. How do you feel about having sex while I’m menstruating?” For many folks who menstruate, desire for sex changes during different times of the menstrual cycle. For example, a person might experience increased desire during menstruation or ovulation – it all depends on the person. Be sure to talk about desires and feelings to ensure everyone is on the same page from the beginning.

Is having sex on your period bad for you?

No. Having sex while one or more partners are on their period is not harmful. In fact, there are a few ways in which it might be helpful! First, the contractions of orgasm might help relieve menstrual cramping. Second, sex might feel particularly great because the vagina can become super lubricated from menstrual secretions. If you are worried about the blood, you can always put down a towel or have sex in the shower to minimize clean up.

Can I get pregnant if I have sex while on my period?

Yes. If you have unprotected vaginal/penile intercourse during your period, it is possible to get pregnant. Sperm can live in a vagina for up to five days. So depending on when the egg is released, sperm could be present to fertilize it. If you have had unprotected penile-vaginal sex and don’t want to get pregnant, consider Emergency Contraception, which is available at most pharmacies over the counter and is fairly effective up to 5 days after unprotected sex. Speak with your pharmacist or medical provider about more reliable options for contraception.

Are other people doing it?

Who cares? Having sex during menstruation is a personal decision, so I cannot stress enough–talk with your partner and see how they feel. Many couples have had the same conversation. If nothing else it can be another opportunity to get to know your partner and their likes, dislikes and comfort level.

This article has been edited for clarity and updated formatting since it’s original publishing date.

Most recent edit: June 22, 2015

32 Comments

  1. My husband loves to have intetcourse while i am menstruating, of course i bleed heavily, so he puts down a towel first, i do have intense orgasms, and i have noticed my cramps go away, but i was wondering if it was safe. I’ve got the answers to all my questions, thanks to your website.

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    • Thanks for the question! I will first say that I am not a medical provider (I have my masters in Public Health), so if you have specific medical questions check with your doctor. However, I will do my best to answer your question.

      If you are on a hormonal contraceptive, like the birth control pill, and you are consistent about taking it everyday, then you should be protected against pregnancy during the placebo pill week (i.e. the week you have your period). If you are not using any contraceptive method, it is possible for a woman to get pregnant from vaginal intercourse while she’s menstruating. If you and your husband are not seeking pregnancy, then you should reduce that risk by using a contraception method, like condoms (or birth control pills, the patch, the ring, etc).

      If you are not concerned about pregnancy and you have been having sex on your period and using condoms simply because it makes one or both of you feel more comfortable, that’s totally fine. Menstrual blood will not harm your partner, though.

      Does that answer your question?

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  2. Pingback: Lingering questions from “Orgasm? Yes Please!” « HealthyHeels

  3. I’ve recently was wondering the same thing if its ok to have sex during my period. I always thought it wasn’t healthy but I guess I was wrong. But then again I’m not a doctor. I discussed all this with my boyfriend and we are not using and birth control or contraceptions. We aren’t planning on kids anytime soon but if it happens it happens we don’t plan anything we do. I mean he owns his own business and I keep house and will be starting to work on a farm once it gets warmer. But we have discusses everything and we are very open with each other about everything we do. We might be young but we know how we feel about each other and we know we are going to be married someday. But being open with the one you are with is key to everything if you aren’t open and comfortable with talkin about it then its not a wise choice to be in that situation.

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  4. I found this website very interesting….me and my partner have been tryin for a baby since january….and whilst just having my implanon taken out in jan weve tried everything….however finding out i can get pregnant on my period is a bonus as i thought it was imposible and must admit i got dissapointed to find out my period had arrived during intercourse….heres hoping it happens soon!! ThankYou for your information….It has helped!!! :))

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  5. My partner and I always do it. oral as well Just put a towel under you and lay on your back so its not messy ! During oral my flow always stops and it only gets a bit messy after intercourse. It really helps ease my cramping and it relaxes me a lot and I always have a nice sleep after.

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    • Sofia, if you’re trying to become pregnant, we recommend a prenatal visit with your medical provider to ensure you’re doing everything you can to have a healthy pregnancy (such as taking 400mg of folic acid each day for at least three months prior to conception). In terms of the timing – consider tracking your cycles. For a woman with a 28 day cycle, ovulation is likely to begin 14 days after her period started. However, for many women it’s a bit more complicated than that as many women have irregular and/or longer cycles. Body basal temperature and cervical mucous can help determine the timing for your ovulation patterns. Your provider can help you with tips for maximizing your chances for becoming pregnant. Good luck!

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  6. Thanks :) I cannot tell you how long ive been stressing! at first i thought i was pregnant because i had sex (protected/with condom) on the first day of my period and It just stopped coming after, I thought i was pregnant because i started getting back pains and my period didnt run at all after the first day i tried it.. I went to the clinic and they told me i was fine but on the internet on another website it said it is possible to get pregnant with a condom, and i was really scared because im only 17 and i dont want a child at a early age.. this made me want to stop having sex until i turn 30 and married:D

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      • Melissa, not to freak you out but as we mentioned above, it IS POSSIBLE to get pregnant while on your period. In Ashley’s case, she didn’t get pregnant after having sex on the first day of her period – and if you have a regular cycle, if you had sex on the first day of your period it’s unlikely that you would ovulate soon enough to become pregnant. It is just all so individual that there’s no way to know for sure in your situation. If it’s been less than 5 days since you had unprotected sex and you’re still worried, you can get and take emergency contraception over the counter to decrease your likelihood of pregnancy. Again, as we mentioned above, having sex on your period is not contraception (a way to avoid pregnancy). You’ll want to use a condom or another form birth control.

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    • Plan B is about 85% effective in preventing unwanted pregnancies when taken with 5 days of unprotected penile/vaginal intercourse. This is true whether you’re on your period or not. Hope that helps! If you have further questions, call your medical provider or pharmacist for more information. If you’re a UNC student, call 919.966.2281.

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  7. I was just wondering if it is safe to have sex when your partner is at the end of her period and you didnt use any condom. Will it be exposed to STD? Or HIV? i ve been bothered for weeks now and i had this high fever,vomiting, dnt feel lile eating. Pls reply asap thank you!

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    • Hi Brian,
      We don’t offer medical advice on specific situations over our blog. In general – having sex without a condom at any point in your partner’s menstrual cycle leaves both of you vulnerable to STD or HIV transmission. We encourage you to visit your doctor if you’re not feeling well to ask more about your specific symptoms and situation. If you’re a UNC student, you can request an appointment from Campus Health online at healthyheels.unc.edu or by calling 919-966-2281.

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  8. I had sex with my bf on my first day (afternoon) second day (afternoon) and third day (dawn) of my period he cum inside me only once per day on my third day in the evening my period has gone slowly my period usually goes slow on the 4th day so I’m scared am I pregnant ? On the first day and second day my period is super fast. I have 28-30 cycle sometimes upto 40 when I’m stressed in school work

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    • Hi Pyon,
      Thanks for your question. We cannot answer specific situations like yours, but encourage you to visit your provider for advice and, if necessary, emergency contraception and/or a pregnancy test. We can tell you that risk for pregnancy increases with more instances of unprotected penile/vaginal intercourse. We strongly suggest if you indeed are not pregnant and do not wish to become pregnant, that you consider finding a method of birth control that works for you. Check out http://bedsider.org/methods for details.

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  9. Me and my girlfriend had unprotected sex but i didn’t cum inside her and after we had sex like 10 minutes after we started again but it lasted like 5 min but i never came again and it was on the 3rd day of her period and her blood stopped for a while and started again. Is she possibly pregnant?

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    • This can all be quite scary and complicated. To make it easy – yes, it’s a possibility. Emergency Contraception is an option for up to 5 days after you’ve had unprotected sex and can be purchased over the counter at most pharmacies. Remember that sperm can be released without ejaculation, and sperm can live for up to 5 days after sex. That time might be long enough to survive until one of your girlfriend’s eggs is released. Egg + sperm = pregnancy. Consider discussing options for contraception with your girlfriend so you can avoid the stress of situations like this. A pharmacist or provider can discuss with you your options at this point as well as options for the future. If you’re a UNC student, make an appointment at Campus Health by calling 919-966-2281 or stop in at our pharmacy for Emergency Contraception and a conversation with a pharmacist.

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