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