Sex on your period: Fact or Fiction?


Image of "period" with a bright red period at the end of it.

Sex during periods. As a sexual health educator, 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 we are 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, sexual desire 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 or your partner worry about a mess from the blood, consider spreading out a towel or having sex in the shower to minimize post-coital cleaning.

Can you get pregnant if you have sex while on your period?

The simple answer is yes.

We get a lot of questions about specific situations on this.

If a person whose body ejaculates sperm has sex with a person whose body houses ovaries, then yes, it’s possible to get pregnant at any time during a menstrual cycle. To put that in writing again – if you have unprotected vaginal/penile intercourse during a menstrual period, it IS possible to get pregnant. Pregnancy can happen if you have sex before, during or after your period.

You are most likely to get pregnant if you have penile/vaginal sex around the time of ovulation. Ovulation is when an egg is released from the ovary. Ovulation usually occurs about 14 days after the start of someone’s last period.

Why do some people think that having sex on their period means they can’t get pregnant?

If someone has a perfectly regular, 28 day menstrual cycle where they ovulate every month on day 14 and their monthly bleed begins at day 23 and lasts for 5 days – having penile/vaginal sex during day 23-28, when they are menstruating, has a very small chance of growing a human. However…

  • MOST PEOPLE DO NOT HAVE PERFECTLY REGULAR 28 DAY CYCLES. Many people who menstruate have unpredictable periods, or at least slight variations each month, meaning it can be difficult to know when they ovulate. In fact, folks who use the rhythm method / Fertility Awareness where they track their cycles and only have penile/vaginal sex during days they believe are not a risk for pregnancy have a 25% chance of creating a human. That’s a 1 in 4 chance. There are much more reliable ways to avoid pregnancy.
  • Some people may experience spotting at the time of ovulation, which could be confused with a period. So if that person thinks that when they bleed is a safe time to not get pregnant but happens to be someone who spots during their ovulation that particular month (or regularly), they have a very high chance of getting pregnant from penile/vaginal intercourse.
  • Sperm can live in a vagina for up to five days. Yup, five days. If an egg comes around at any point during that time, pregnancy could happen.
  • Some people have sex more regularly than every five days. Each instance of penile/vaginal intercourse extends the timeframe for live sperm to exist in the vagina.
  • Many people who have sperm release a small amount of semen prior to ejaculation. While this helps with lubrication and comfort, it makes “pulling out” a less effective method of contraception since sperm can be present prior to ejacuation. Even foreplay with someone with ovaries has a chance of conception due to this pre-ejaculate fluid.

So how do I make it less likely to have a baby?

I already had sex on my period. Now I’m worried I might be pregnant.

If you already had penile-vaginal sex without contraception and you don’t want to get pregnant, consider Emergency Contraception (such as ella, Plan B One Step or a Copper IUD). Many of these are available at most pharmacies over the counter and are pretty darn effective for up to 5 days after unprotected sex. There are more reliable methods of contraception than Emergency Contraception. We encourage you to speak with your pharmacist or medical provider about contraception options that might work for you.

Are other people having sex on their period?

Based on the number of folks who are reading this blog article – yup. But really, it doesn’t matter if other folks are doing it or not. Having sex during menstruation is a personal decision, so we again emphasize that you should talk with your partner to see how they feel. 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: November 5, 2019

474 thoughts on “Sex on your period: Fact or Fiction?

  1. shabsy March 4, 2016 / 6:19 am

    I had unpotected sex with my husband just a day before my 1st day of period. my bleeding stopped on 2nd day of my period. Is there any chances of becoming pregnant?

    Like

    • HealthyHeels March 21, 2016 / 1:45 pm

      Our stock answer is always yes there’s a chance. Same is true for you. Good luck!

      Like

  2. Scarlet March 3, 2016 / 7:45 pm

    I had unprotected sex with my bf on the 2nd day of my period, 2/25/16. I’m a vegan and I’ve been craving for flan for a few days now and when I saw one while strolling in a food fair, I bought it immediately and ate it without hesitation. I never craved for anything nonvegan til now, is this just period cravings or is it cravings from pregnancy? How early can I tell the signs of pregancy and how early can I take home pregnacy tests?

    Like

    • HealthyHeels March 21, 2016 / 1:44 pm

      Great questions, Scarlet. Each pregnancy test has different specifics on how soon it is accurate. Many suggest waiting until after you should have started your next period, but there are others which will provide results sooner (and even offer calculators online to let you know when you can take it). You can always visit your local pharmacy and check out what test options they have on hand as well as call your provider or nurse line to ask about details for your situation.

      Like

  3. Rosalind March 2, 2016 / 2:55 pm

    Well I had sex on the fourth day of my period and my period continued till its sixth day. I took a contraceptive pill within 13hours of my sex time. Will I get pregnant? Will there be any side effects of the pill?

    Like

    • HealthyHeels March 21, 2016 / 1:40 pm

      Rosalind, so much depends on whether you were on a contraceptive pill prior to your period starting. But by now, you probably know one way or the other. Let us know if you still have questions – and always know that you can call your medical provider and/or their nurse to ask questions like this in the future.

      Like

  4. Michell1988 March 1, 2016 / 8:58 am

    Hey! I have a question my fiancé and I had sex while I was on my period but it was my first day of being on my period and yes he ejected in me and laid there for a min and I stood afterwards is there a chance I still can get pregnant ?

    Like

    • HealthyHeels March 1, 2016 / 10:03 am

      Yes. We get a lot of questions about specific situations on this – but the short answer is always “yes, it’s possible to get pregnant at any time during a menstrual cycle.”
      You are most likely to get pregnant if you have sex around the time of ovulation. Ovulation is when an egg is released from the ovary, and it usually occurs about 14 days after the start of your last period. Many women have unpredictable ovulation or may have spotting at the time of ovulation, which could be confused with a period.
      Plus, sperm can live in a vagina for up to five days.

      If you have a regular cycle, are confident this was a typical period, and aren’t super concerned about becoming pregnant, you can hope for the best with the low likelihood of pregnancy here. But if you really don’t want to get pregnant, consider Emergency Contraception (such as Plan B, ella, Plan B One Step or a Copper IUD). Many of these are available at most pharmacies over the counter and are pretty darn effective for up to 5 days after unprotected sex.

      There are more reliable methods of contraception than Emergency Contraception. We encourage you to speak with your pharmacist or medical provider about contraception options that might work for you.

      Like

  5. Ashley February 17, 2016 / 9:45 am

    Me and my boyfriend had unprotected sex on the last day of my period. I usually bleed 5 days. He ejaculated inside of me. I laid in the bed for about 10 minutes or less before I got up to pee. I’m not on any kind of birth control. Could I possibly become pregnant? I have irregular periods so it’s hard to tell if I’m ovulating or not. I miss my periods all of the time, but I have never had more than 1 period in 1 month.

    Like

    • HealthyHeels February 17, 2016 / 11:24 am

      Hi Ashley – it is definitely possible for you to be pregnant. If you’re having sex without contraception, you’re actually quite likely to get pregnant. If you don’t want to get pregnant, consider emergency contraception and long term, find a contraceptive method that will work for you.

      Like

  6. Grace February 12, 2016 / 9:21 pm

    Hi, I’m at my ovulation time of the month at the moment and was wondering would having sex, with a condom, delay my period even though it’s 14 days away? As it has in the past?

    Like

    • HealthyHeels February 17, 2016 / 11:20 am

      Hi Grace, great question. We had never heard anything about this phenomenon so we did what we tell y’all not to do – a google search. The only pages that came up weren’t from particularly reputable sources. This likely means that some people notice changes in their cycle after having protected intercourse – like you have, but that cycle changes after protected sex either hasn’t been studied or doesn’t show up in studies. If having a delayed period after protected sex has been your experience, then probably it could happen again. We just can’t find any evidence to show that this is actually a thing. Let us know if you find something online about this – we’d love to read it!

      Like

  7. confused February 10, 2016 / 10:37 pm

    My periods vary each month. However, my last period was the 17th of January and my bfand I been trying to get pregnant but never really know when eexactly my ovulation day is. My breasts have been sore for three weeks, cramping like im going to get my period. We had unprotected sex feb 7-10 and im hoping I can get pregnant. But I started having brownish (like what it does after your period) it comes and it goes for almost two days. A little bit of nerve wreck here bc I really want a baby. Not sure if im miscarrying or if im pregnant or if im getting my period.

    Like

    • HealthyHeels February 17, 2016 / 11:08 am

      Hi Confused – trying to get pregnant can be such a challenge considering timing and emotions. The most recent advice says that the best way to get yourself pregnant is to have sex often. Rather than trying to find your fertile days – especially with a varying cycle – just have sex whenever you feel interested in it, knowing that the more often you have sex, the more likely you will become pregant. As for your spotting, it’s hard to know what that is about without more information, but if you’re still concerned, a visit to your medical provider to talk about what’s happening and to get advice on fertility and prenatal health is always a good option. p.s. are you taking prenatal supplements? It’s important!

      Like

  8. ceenu February 10, 2016 / 2:50 am

    i and my gf had sex that is just 7 to 8 strokes i gave her without a condom and it was her 4 th day of her period and her vagina started bleeding i dnt remember did i have precum on my penis as such but i didnt ejaculate inside her , so can she be pregnant ?

    Like

    • HealthyHeels February 17, 2016 / 11:03 am

      Hi Ceenu – the short answer is yes she could be pregnant. Your situation is a great example of why it’s important to use condoms or some form of contraception anytime intercourse occurs between a man and woman. The likelihood is low, however (less sperm in precum than ejaculate and the timing of the intercourse isn’t ideal for conceiving, just possible) so we’ll hope for the best for y’all. Good luck!

      Like

  9. sasha February 9, 2016 / 5:28 pm

    Hi I started my period yesterday and it started slow but today morning was heavy. Also i had sex with my boyfriend today morning which is my second day of my period and his sperm can in me. my period stop after some hours but i could feel like i am still on my period. am i pregnant?

    Like

    • HealthyHeels February 17, 2016 / 10:16 am

      Hi Sasha – When you and your boyfriend have sex without hormonal contraception (the pill, for example) or a barrier method (like a condom) anytime during your monthly cycle (also known as: anytime) there is a risk of becoming pregnant. We hope that helps.

      Like

  10. kupper February 8, 2016 / 3:50 pm

    we hard sex with my girlfriend when she was on her period,is that possible for her to be pregnant?

    Like

    • HealthyHeels February 9, 2016 / 11:02 am

      Hi Kupper. Yup, it’s possible she’s pregnant. If it’s within 5 days of having sex and y’all don’t want to be pregnant, she could consider taking emergency contraception. Good luck.

      Like

  11. myheartissherlocked74 February 4, 2016 / 11:20 pm

    Hello! I’m just wondering about a few things, if you don’t mind 🙂
    I was on the third day of my period and my ex put his bare penis in me (without my consent, but that’s another issue for another day…) He didn’t ejaculate in me but he made fun of me and said he had a lot of precum and that I may be pregnant. I know this could be true, but how likely is it?
    Also, is there always implantation bleeding? If I was pregnant, would I have spotted?
    I won’t lie, I wouldn’t be too upset if I was pregnant. In fact, I kind of hope I am. Is that weird since he basically raped me? Am I just slowly losing my mind?

    Like

    • HealthyHeels February 9, 2016 / 10:52 am

      Hello – Thank you for sharing this with us – we are so sorry this happened to you. Pregnancy is possible, yes. It also sounds like you could benefit from speaking to someone about what happened and your feelings around it. If you’re a UNC student, you can visit safe.unc.edu for a comprehensive website of information and resources, or come to Counseling and Psychological Services between 9-12, 1-4 Monday – Thursday and on Friday between 9:30-12 and 1-4 for an appointment to determine the best mental health support for you. If you’re not a UNC student, there is an online hotline at https://ohl.rainn.org/online/ and they also offer a phone hotline at 800-656-HOPE. Also many communities offer support centers for people who have survived experiences like yours. Google “rape crisis center” to find some resources near you.
      You are not losing your mind – after something like this feelings can be all over the place and that is totally normal. Please get the support you need. All the best to you.

      Like

  12. Paul February 3, 2016 / 5:19 pm

    I had sex with a female while on her period. Didn’t cum and she took the day after pill within 24 hours.

    Chances of being pregnant?

    Like

    • HealthyHeels February 9, 2016 / 11:00 am

      Hi Paul – short answer: Low. It’s hard to give you an actual number, but the numbers say withdrawl offers about a 78% effectiveness rate with typical use and Plan B One Step (we don’t know if this is what she took or not, though) is about 95% effective if taken within a day of intercourse. When mixed together, you’d have less than a 5% chance of pregnancy. Hope that helps. If you plan to have sex with any more females, we’d encourage you to use a condom so you don’t have as much to worry about regarding pregnancy or STIs. Or if you’re planning to have sex regularly with the same female, talking with her about methods of contraception that could work for both of you. Good luck.

      Like

  13. Lee Ho February 3, 2016 / 7:06 am

    Hi, I’m 21 and I took pills during the time me and my fiancee is on vacation since we dont want a baby coming our way Yet. I had the bleeding after I finished my 21 pills and after the 21 pills he started using condom to be really safe. I wasnt able to start a new pill pack because I wasnt bringing any at the vacation. now its been four weeks and I havent had a regular period. should I be concerned about getting pregnant?

    Like

    • HealthyHeels February 3, 2016 / 9:13 am

      Hi Lee Ho, This is a great question. It sounds like you have some confusion about how the pill works. You can read more about the pill. Generally, the pill is effective after 7 days. If you had sex prior to that time, there’s a potential that you could be pregnant. And the pill isn’t perfect, nor is most people’s use of it (i.e. they forget a day or don’t take it at the same time each day). So yes, you could be pregnant, but it sounds unlikely based on the precautions you and your fiancee took. Many women find that taking the pill changes their cycle, which might be the reason for the delay in your monthly bleed. Stopping and starting the pill definitely brings about hormone fluctuation in your body, which also increases your likelihood for irregular periods. Hope that helps – good luck!

      Like

      • Lee Ho February 5, 2016 / 7:50 pm

        Actually I have my period now. I was being paranoid. I think it’s really delayed. Thanks a lot. 🙂

        Like

  14. heaven January 31, 2016 / 6:47 pm

    I started my period Saturday nd me nd my bf had sex on Tuesday nd he nutted in me nd my period changed I was spotin for a lil bit after that nd it stoped is there a chance that I’m pregnant ?

    Like

    • HealthyHeels February 1, 2016 / 9:16 am

      Hi Heaven, We get a lot of questions like this. A few bottom lines:
      1. Length of period or change in period is not an indication of pregnancy.
      2. Any question we get that involves sex and “is there a chance that I’m pregnant” – we answer “yes, there’s a chance.” This is true for you as well.
      3. If you don’t want to be pregnant and are having sex, you’ll want to find a contraceptive method that works for you. Learn more about contraception here: https://campushealth.unc.edu/health-topics/sexual-health/contraception. If you’re within 5 days of unprotected sex, consider emergency contraception.
      4. If you do want to get pregnant, tracking your cycle and learning more about fertility can help. http://www.womenshealth.gov/pregnancy/before-you-get-pregnant/trying-to-conceive.html

      We hope that helps! Good luck!

      Like

      • Benjo June 5, 2016 / 8:36 am

        i have sex with my gf on her 2nd day of her period on her 1st day of period is heavy and also on her second day and we do it 3times on our first try i came outside and on our second time i used a protection but i slight came inside and pull it immediately and check the condom if it has holes and before we take the third try i pee before inserting it and i came also outside but i saw my semen that its like just a drop of water and i dont know if i came inside her or not. My question is can a girl feel that i came inside her and can she also be pregnant?

        Like

        • HealthyHeels September 6, 2016 / 10:21 am

          Sorry for our delay in responding! Let us know if you still have questions. Thanks.

          Like

  15. dianna January 30, 2016 / 10:05 am

    i had a sex with a friend bfore 2 days period,…then i had sex after my period with my steady guy and now im pregnant just want to know that the father of my baby is the man i had sex after period we had , many times unprotected sex

    Like

    • HealthyHeels February 1, 2016 / 9:09 am

      Hi Dianna, you’re pregnant! Wow – we hope this is welcome news for you. This is a question for your medical provider – there are lots of specifics we would want to know before giving you an answer online. Good luck with everything!

      Like

      • Kammara February 5, 2016 / 3:20 pm

        Healthy heels,I am 20 and I want to get pregnant.if my period is coming and I stop it with a contraceptive pill, I take 2 of them 1 time..and going to have sex… could I get pregnant I really need to know

        Like

        • HealthyHeels February 9, 2016 / 10:43 am

          Hi Kammara, it sounds like you’re really trying to have a baby! This is a super specific question – there’s not much research out there about what happens to fertility after taking two pills at once and then having sex. What we can tell you is that in general, taking the contraceptive pill when you want to get pregnant is not going to be the most effective way to have a baby. We’d recommend talking with your medical provider to learn more about the best ways to conceive a child. Good luck!

          Like

  16. Jessica January 29, 2016 / 5:24 pm

    Well i am 18 and me and my boyfriend had sex on 01/27 i started my period right after sex. Then the next day i woke up my period stopped out of nowhere. Could i be pregnant??

    Like

    • HealthyHeels February 1, 2016 / 9:06 am

      Hi Jessica, thanks for your question. The length of a period does not indicate that pregnancy. You are still within 5 days of sex, so if you don’t want to be pregnant, you can always ask your medical provider or pharmacist about emergency contraception (today!). Are you using any contraception already? Talk with your medical provider about finding a reliable method that fits your lifestyle, and ask questions to help you feel more confident that the contraception method is working. Learn more about contraception here: https://campushealth.unc.edu/health-topics/sexual-health/contraception.

      Like

  17. Eliza January 28, 2016 / 5:17 pm

    Me and my boyfriend had sex right before my period started, he came inside of me and when i went to the bathroom i noticed I started, but then 3 days later my period just stopped out of no where, Could I maybe be pregnant?

    Like

    • HealthyHeels February 1, 2016 / 9:03 am

      Hi Eliza, yes, possibly you could be pregnant. It’s totally dependent on your cycles – if they are regular, how long they are, etc. But the fact that your period stopped abruptly does not indicate that you are, in fact, pregnant. Periods can stop for lots of reasons! If you’re not wanting to be pregnant, consider using a contraceptive method that instills enough confidence in you that even if you period stops early, you won’t be concerned. Learn more about contraceptives here: https://campushealth.unc.edu/health-topics/sexual-health/contraception.

      Like

  18. Bharathi January 28, 2016 / 1:36 pm

    Hi I have 4 days of missed period, and my home pregnancy test negative. How long I m wait for accurate results, and can I sex with my partner. My last period is 24 the Dec,my cycle 32days .may chance to get pregnant

    Like

  19. Ashley January 26, 2016 / 7:38 pm

    had unprotected sex on my 4th day of my period could i be pregnant ?

    Like

    • HealthyHeels February 1, 2016 / 8:56 am

      Hi Ashley,
      The short answer is yup, you could be pregnant. If you don’t want to be pregnant and you are still within 5 days of the unprotected sex, you can consider taking emergency contraception. Good luck!

      Like

  20. t January 25, 2016 / 7:42 pm

    Question
    I just got finished with post pardom bleeding, my husband and I didn’t exactly have sex, he stuck it in once but I started freaking out because I don’t want another kid and am currently waiting for a Dr appointment to get my tubes tied, but when we did this I was bleeding then the next day I stopped. No he didnt ejaculate inside of me, like I said he only stuck it in once.
    What could be the cause of me stop bleeding the next day?

    Like

    • HealthyHeels February 1, 2016 / 9:19 am

      Hi T,
      This sounds like a great question to ask your doctor or nurse line. After having a baby your body is trying to get back to normal, and that’s a process. Your bleeding that stopped the next day is likely an indication of your body finding its new normal. But yes, pregnancy is a (very) slight possibility. Good luck!

      Like

  21. Ashley January 18, 2016 / 9:34 pm

    If a guy already ejaculates in you on your period how long does it take for your period to stop

    Like

    • HealthyHeels January 25, 2016 / 1:18 pm

      Hi Ashley, as far as we know, the length of a period does not change if a man ejaculates inside someone having their period. In other words, the period would last as long as it would have otherwise. Typically, a period lasts between 2 and 7 days. Longer periods can occur, especially during the first few years of getting one’s period, after switching hormonal birth control methods or after stopping hormonal birth control. If you or someone you know is having an excessively long period, you can always visit a medical provider to ask questions about your specific situation.

      Like

  22. Nancy December 20, 2015 / 9:52 pm

    pls wat could be the cause of me having my mense twice a month even though i have unprotected sex

    Like

    • Sara Stahlman December 28, 2015 / 1:54 pm

      This is a great question, Nancy. Every woman’s cycle is different so this might just be your cycle. I also don’t know anything about your health history or medications, so it’s difficult for me to give you any info about your situation. You might want to visit your medical provider to learn more. Also – remember unprotected sex can lead to STI transmission and (if you’re having sex with someone who ejaculates semen) pregnancy – so consider using protection to avoid those situations if desired. If you are, in fact, wanting to get pregnant, you’ll want to track your current menstrual pattern and visit your medical provider to learn more about preconception information (like taking vitamin supplements) and fertility information (like when you’re most likely to become pregnant). I hope that’s helpful!

      Like

  23. candy December 20, 2015 / 4:34 am

    hi m 18 years old i had unprotected sex on 5 day of my period though on the same day i took i pill and on 9th day after sex i am having bleeding… is this implantation bleeding or periods… plz tell me fast i don’t want child right now m really very stressed..

    Like

    • Sara Stahlman December 28, 2015 / 1:49 pm

      I can tell that you’re stressed about this, Candy! Hopefully this has all been resolved by now – sorry for our delay in responding. We were on holiday. If someone else reading has this same question: There’s no way to tell what this bleeding means without waiting for a few more days and taking a pregnancy test. But you can always visit your provider to talk more about your symptoms and the timing of everything. Good luck!

      Like

  24. Goji December 16, 2015 / 3:54 am

    What we hapn when i hv sex after the day i finish my period.

    Like

    • Sara Stahlman December 28, 2015 / 1:45 pm

      Hey Goji – “what will happen?” is a broad question to answer and almost impossible knowing as little as we know about you. You’d be better off discussing this with your medical provider. But in general: In many cases, the answer will be not much out of the ordinary after having sex any time of the month. But if your question is specifically about pregnancy (as many of the questions below this post are), yes, you could become pregnant if your sex was with someone who ejaculates semen. If your question is more about general after-sex info, you might notice some spotting, you might want to think about STI transmission, you might want to have conversations with your partner about what you liked and what you might want to do differently next time, and ask the same about their experience. If you have a more specific question that we didn’t address in this response, please let us know.

      Like

  25. kate mulaudzi December 10, 2015 / 4:25 am

    Is it possible to became pregnant and still see your periods

    Like

    • Sara Stahlman December 10, 2015 / 10:28 am

      Hi Kate,
      If we define a period as the shedding of the uterine lining, then no, it’s not possible to become pregnant and still have a period. However, many women experience spotting during pregnancy. Significant spotting and/or blood can have important medical relevance during a pregnancy, so a medical provider should know if any spotting is happening to you while pregnant.

      Like

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