Chances are if you get your period every month, it has affected your sex life at some point. If you've been able to get past the potential messiness or self-consciousness of period sex, you've probably learned there are some surprising benefits to getting down while Aunt Flo is in town. But what about the effects period sex can actually have on your flow itself?
For starters, orgasms during period sex can help relieve the pain associated with period cramping. "Not only does your blood flow increase when you climax, your uterine muscles also release chemicals to the brain that offer natural pain relief. This magic combo means some serious cramp relief (and an orgasm — win-win!)," says Dr. Lauren Brim, who is a doctor of human sexuality, a sexual-wellness educator, an author, and the founder of the Adult Play Mat.
Concerned that period sex might prolong your cycle? Not likely, says Dr Sherry A. Ross, a women's health expert and the author of She-ology. Having period sex usually does not affect the length of period bleeding, nor does it affect the amount of blood flow. In fact, "some believe having period sex makes your periods shorter since the uterus pushes out the blood faster, making periods shorter," says Dr. Ross.
If you're thinking of giving period sex a try, plan in advance for the cleanest, safest experience. "Period sex can be a bit messy, but there are ways to prevent blood soiling your sheets, if you plan ahead," says Dr. Ross. Some women use a tampon right before vaginal penetration, while others use a menstrual cup to collect the blood. "One of my favorite menstrual cups is the Lunette menstrual cup, which can be inserted into the vagina, making oral sex easy and blood free. Some use a menstrual cup during vaginal penetration to prevent blood from getting on the sheets," says Dr. Ross.
And always play it safe and use a reliable birth control method, even while on your period. "Women with shorter period intervals — 21 days between each period, for example — are more likely to get pregnant during the end of their period," says Dr. Ross. She notes that women are also more prone to contracting sexually transmitted infections while on their periods, so safe sex should always be practiced.