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Period Sex: Yay or Nay?

Period Sex: Yay or Nay?


Many people are uncomfortable with the idea of period sex. Some spout archaic beliefs from religious texts to claim that it’s ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’ and that it makes you ‘impure’ or ‘immoral’. Others think it must be unhealthy, unhygienic or harmful.

Most of us are just so steeped in the social stigmas surrounding female sexuality and menstruation, and the shame we learn to feel around the body, that we haven’t really thought it all through, and we’re scared or disgusted by the idea of period sex by default.

It’s an unexamined and often misogynistic disgust with a natural bodily function, rather than any really solid reasoning, that makes people squirm at the thought of period sex. So let’s break it down. It is perfectly fine to have period sex.

Some menstruators experience a higher desire for sex during their period, and sexual pleasure can even relieve menstrual cramps and headaches. There is nothing immoral about having sex on your period—it may actually provide some relief!

That said, of course, there are many people who simply don’t feel like having sex on their period, and that’s absolutely fine too. When I’m on my period, I often just want to curl up with a hot water bottle and some snacks, and be cranky. There’s no pressure to have sex.

It’s just worth understanding that period sex isn’t objectively wrong, ‘gross’, or harmful, and many people even find it to be rather enjoyable.

Let’s take this opportunity to remind ourselves that menstruation is a normal and, in fact, absolutely vital part of human existence. And no matter our gender, it’s worth overcoming any feelings of shame or disgust around it.


Is it safe to have unprotected sex on your period?

You could get pregnant even when on your period. Sperm can live in the body for up to five days; and different people’s ovulation cycles vary in duration—so, although unlikely, it is not impossible. (Also, some people may bleed even during ovulation, or may experience vaginal bleeding for a different reason and mistake it for a period.)

If you want to avoid pregnancy, and you are not on any other form of birth control, it’s best to always use condoms, even when on your period.

As for infections—period blood isn’t inherently diseased or dirty; if you don’t have an infection, an infection won’t be transmitted. However, period sex can increase the chance of transmission if an infection is present.

If you and your partner haven’t both been tested for sexually transmitted infections, it’s best to always use a barrier method of protection, whether or not you have your period, and whether or not you’re also on some other form of birth control.

If you have had unprotected sex, can you take a pregnancy test the same day?

Whether you are someone who wants to get pregnant or someone who is hoping you don’t get pregnant, it’s understandable that you’d want to know what’s going on ASAP.

But home pregnancy tests aren’t going to be able to tell you on the same day. It’s too early for an accurate result. Most home pregnancy tests can be done from the first day of your missed period. If you’re not sure when you’re having your next period—or if your period is irregular—it’s generally suggested that you take the test at least ten days after you had unprotected sex.

If you had unprotected sex and you don’t want to become pregnant, you can take emergency contraception, also often referred to as the ‘morning after pill’.

With emergency contraception on the other hand, the sooner you are able to take it after having sex, the more likely it is to be able to work. Emergency contraception is best taken as soon as possible—ideally on the same day or by the next day—and it’s not considered effective if taken later than five days after intercourse.

It’s best to use a primary form of contraception such as condoms, birth control pills, or an IUD if you’re sexually active and do not wish to get pregnant—emergency contraceptives are less effective at preventing pregnancy than a primary method of contraception, and therefore should ideally be thought of as a recourse for when a primary method failed or was not in place, rather than as your go-to for contraception.

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