Back to the Questions

Period sex, explained by a doctor

by Dr. Tessa Commers
Julie Medical Advisor
General Sex

The Truth About Period Sex: Benefits, Risks, and Tips

It’s time to talk about period sex (aka sex on your period). Is it possible? Is it painful? Who should you have it with, and are there any benefits? We’re breaking down all your period sex questions with Doctor Tessa Commers.

Having sex while menstruating is not only perfectly safe and normal,  but it can actually have some benefits. Though there are some precautions to keep in mind, you can have comfortable, enjoyable, safe sex while on your period. Learn more about the benefits and risks of period sex below (as well as a few other tips and tricks).

Can You Have Sex on Your Period?

Yes—you can absolutely have sex during your period. If you and your partner are in the mood, there is no reason–practical or medical–to hold off on having period sex.

Some people might be confused about how sex works while fluid is coming out of the vagina, while others might be uncomfortable with the idea of blood getting in the mix of things. The truth is that sex happens essentially the same way as it does when there is no period blood. At the end of the day, it’s really up to the participants as to whether or not they’re in the mood and if they’re prepared for the possibility of a little extra cleanup.

Does Period Sex Make You Attached?

One common rumor is that having sex during your period can create stronger emotional attachments to your partner. While there haven’t been any specific studies to verify this, sex of any kind can cause the brain to release oxytocin (sometimes called the “love hormone”) which can make people feel more connected to their partners. In addition, it’s common for some people to experience more intense emotions while menstruating. Put these two occurrences together and it makes sense that period sex comes with more intense sexual feelings. However, the attachment felt between two partners is dependent on countless additional factors, so it’s unlikely that period sex alone will have a significant impact on a relationship.

Remember that any sexual activity should be consensual and based on mutual desire and respect between partners. Period sex is no exception to this rule.

Is It Bad?

No, period sex is not bad for you. There are certainly social and cultural views of period sex that may influence someone’s perspective, but–medically speaking–period sex is a healthy activity. As with all types of healthy sexual activity, open communication and preparation are beneficial. To ensure you’re practicing safe sex, it’s still recommended to take precautions to protect yourself and your partner from STIs and unwanted pregnancy. This includes barrier protection, knowing your STI status and using birth control (if you aren’t trying to conceive).

Benefits of Period Sex

Not only is there nothing wrong or harmful about period sex, it can actually have some benefits, including:

Increased Sex Drive or Arousal

Natural hormonal fluctuations regulate the cyclical events of the menstrual cycle. However, these hormones have additional side effects, including emotional changes. One emotion that many experience is heightened sex drive during a period.

Increased Sexual Pleasure

The increased blood flow to the private area during menstruation brings blood to all areas of the vulva, including the clitoris and vagina. This increased blood flow has the potential to enhance your sexual pleasure.

Less Need for Lubrication

One advantage of period sex is the presence of a natural lubricant (blood) which reduces or eliminates the need for additional lube during sex. This may not be the case if you’ve used a tampon up to the point of penetration as tampons soak up most of the blood. However, using an additional lube is still safe to use while on your period.

Less Painful Cramps

Menstrual cramps are the worst. They happen when the muscles of your uterus contract to release its lining (what we see as period blood and clots). But good news–orgasms can help! Orgasms release endorphins, which are natural pain relievers that can help you feel better and provide some relief from cramps.

Shorter Periods

Some people may also experience shorter periods thanks to period sex. Since orgasms cause your uterus to contract and release, the extra release can help you shed more of the uterus lining and reach a quicker end to your period.

Will It Affect My Period?

Changes to your period can happen for various reasons. Aside from the possibility of ending it earlier (thanks, orgasms), period sex doesn’t influence the timing of your menstrual cycle. Your period can change slightly from month to month, but sex doesn’t cause substantial differences to your cycle.

The main way sex can delay your period is if you become pregnant. Other factors like stress, weight extremes, exercise, puberty, perimenopause, changes in birth control, or shifts in routine can also cause changes in your menstrual cycle. However, sex itself (including sex on your period) is not a factor.

What Are the Risks of Period Sex?

Period sex is perfectly healthy and normal. While there’s nothing dangerous about it, there are some potential risks (just like with any type of sexual activity). These include:

You and Your Partner May Get a Little Bloody

Blood can get on you, your partner, and whatever surface you’re having sex on. But that doesn’t need to get in the way of you having sex. Be sure to communicate and prepare in advance. Lay out a towel or opt for a  location that’s conducive to a quick clean-up, like a shower.

Sexually-transmitted infection (STIs)

Period sex does not protect you from passing or contracting an STI. For those with female anatomy, the vaginal pH level tends to be slightly higher than usual during menstruation, which could potentially make you more prone to infections. For those with male anatomy, the risk of spreading an STI is the same whether or not your partner is menstruating.

Using a barrier form of protection like a condom, female condom, or dental dam can help reduce the risk of spreading an STI. Regular testing and treatment (when indicated) is also part of healthy sexual activity.

Vaginal Dryness

Increased lubrication is a benefit of period sex for some but not all, especially if you use tampons. Tampons are very effective at soaking up blood, but they can leave the vaginal canal dry immediately after removal. Using lubricant can help prevent any discomfort or friction during sex.

Tips for Better Period Sex

Remove Your Tampon or Pad

Before having sex, be sure to remove your tampon or menstrual cup to prevent discomfort. If you use tampons, have a water-based lubricant on hand to avoid vaginal dryness.

Pee Afterwards

Use a pH-balanced wipe or a wet towel to clean yourself after sex. Also, be sure to urinate (pee) after sex to help expel other bacteria.

Try Different Positions

The right position can make period sex more relaxing. Try different positions to see what feels best for you and your partner. If blood leakage is a concern, consider positions that place you beneath your partner, like missionary. Talk to your partner and explore what works best.


Open communication is key for period sex. Discuss any concerns, preferences, and boundaries before engaging. Being on the same page with your partner will make the experience better for the both of you.

Use a Towel

You can place a towel under you to catch any blood that might otherwise reach your sheets (or whatever surface you’re having sex on). This will also make clean-up quick and easy.

Can You Get Pregnant from Period Sex?

Yes, you can still get pregnant from period sex. Though the chances are low, it’s still possible. If you’re not on a consistent form of birth control (like hormonal birth control pills, the IUD, shot, patch, or ring) don’t rely on period sex as a regular go-to for preventing pregnancy. Using a barrier method, like condoms, reduces your chances of becoming pregnant while also protecting yourself and your partner from STIs. Emergency contraception like Julie can also help prevent pregnancy when taken within 72 hours after unprotected sex.

Although the information above may be useful, it shouldn’t replace the advice of your healthcare professional. For questions about emergency contraception or birth control, please talk to your healthcare professional.