Hot Take: Oral Sex on Your Period Is Sexy

There's a lot of stigma around oral sex on vulvas and, separately, sex during menstruation. So it's no surprise that when you combine the two, there are a lot of misconceptions about oral sex during your period — mainly, that it's gross or somehow inherently unsafe.

The truth is, there's a lot of misogyny, entitlement, and generally poor understanding of the vulvar anatomy baked into those assumptions. It's safe (and enjoyable!) to have sex on your period, no matter what type of sex it is.

Let's be clear: while it's perfectly safe and acceptable to have any type of period sex, you're still allowed to have preferences. It's OK if you only want to enjoy or give oral sex under certain circumstances, such as when you or your partner are or aren't on your period. Preferences are fine, but the idea that menstruation is inherently dirty or that blood precludes people's right to consensual pleasure is not.

On that note, let's break down the facts about oral sex on periods, safer sex considerations, and how to give great period head.

Is Oral Sex on Your Period Safe?

For starters, there is no such thing as completely "safe" sex, says Mary Jane Minkin, MD, clinical professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences at the Yale University School of Medicine.

Sex always carries a risk of miscommunications, discomfort, and STIs (yes, even with condoms or barrier protection). That's why it's so important to have conversations with your sexual partners — no matter how many times you've had sex or how trusting the relationship — before you get intimate. You should talk to your partner about STI risk and the last time you've been tested for STIs; how you'll share the responsibility of checking in on each other during sex; safe words (words you and your partner agree to before any sexual contact, and when one is used, it means everything stops, no questions asked); fluid bonding (i.e., is it OK if you're exposed to my sexual fluids and vice versa?); sex-toy hygiene; and protection methods (do you want to use condoms during penetration or dental dams during oral?).

With menstrual blood, you want to consider what risks you and your partner are comfortable with. You can still contract an STI through menstrual blood, Megwyn White, clinical sexologist and director of education at Satisfyer, says. "There are certain STIs that are easier to contract through menstrual blood, such as HIV and hepatitis B, along with other blood-borne pathogens." It's important to note that, for the receiver, there's also a higher risk of contracting chlamydia and gonorrhea through oral sex during your period, as your cervix opens during menstruation. This can "[allow] for bacterial infections to travel easier into the cervix, which can then lead to contracting pelvic inflammatory disease [an infection of the reproductive organs]," White says. However, if neither partner has any STIs, there's no inherent risk from menstrual blood; it's safe to touch, get on your body, and, yes, lick!

If you want to avoid fluid swapping, you may consider using a dental dam — a thin piece of latex held over the vulva to prevent contact with bodily fluids, such as period blood and vaginal fluid, during oral sex. The CDC recommends always checking the expiration date of dental dams before use and refraining from adding oil-based lubricants or products (such as baby oil, lotion, or petroleum jelly). Oil can cause the latex to break down, which can reduce the effectiveness of the barrier and result in tearing the dental dam.

How to Have Oral Sex on Your Period

Aside from just being really fun, there are a lot of benefits to period sex, including reducing cramps, boosting your mood, providing stress relief, and improving sleep quality. "Research has shown that orgasms can help relieve menstrual pain, including migraines and cramps, as orgasms release the 'love hormone,' aka oxytocin, which helps pain management throughout the body," White says.

It may feel more daunting when blood is involved, but in general, there are no special strategies for having period sex. What great period sex looks like is totally up to you and your partner(s). Maybe it's messy and silly, in the shower with a toy, or on your lighter days of menstruation. Maybe you have sex the same way you usually do, just on a towel.

Talk with your partner: What are you each concerned about or interested in trying? Do you mind blood on the sheets, your body, or clothes? You can put a towel down or simply move to the shower for sex. You may also want to wear a tampon or menstrual disc during oral to avoid getting blood on the sheets or making a mess — just remember to remove your tampon before any type of internal (vaginal) sex because it could get pushed too far back into the vagina, making it difficult to remove. If you do move to internal sex, check out the best positions for mess-free period sex.

Remember: no matter what you're into, it's important to know that oral sex is not dirty — and neither are periods. You deserve to experience pleasure without stigma or shame.