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Sexuality in Conversation

The Playboy Guide to Period Sex

If you’ve ever had sex with your partner while she’s on her period, you understand it isn’t the slasher flick nightmare it's been made out to be. According to data published by Simpatic.us of more than 4,000 users, we’re coming closer to normalizing the stigmatic act. The research found four in 10 men and three in 10 women are interested in having period sex and 30 percent of women want to have sex more when they're ovulating than any other time.

What does this mean? It means you’re doing yourself a disservice by abstaining from sex with your menstruating partner each month. “Period sex isn’t gross–it’s natural!” Sunny Rodgers, clinical sexologist, sex coach and ambassador for the American Sexual Health Association, tells Playboy. “Some people are understandably put off by the blood, but periods are just a normal part of who we are as women.”

Per Rodgers, male clients fear they’ll hurt their partner during period sex, which is a totally logical response to seeing blood. But the truth is, period sex can feel great for women. “The majority of women are horny during their period because their sex drive increases as metabolic changes happen in their reproductive organs,” she explains. So get over the damn blood and embrace your partner’s revved-up sex drive. Get freaky.

Another reason to try period sex? It benefits your partner. In addition to relieving cramps, period sex can also shorten menstruation and relieve headaches. According to the Mayo Clinic, a drop in estrogen just before a woman’s period can influence headaches and research found that sexual activity can relieve these symptoms. Not to mention, sex releases endorphins that improve your partner’s mood, which may not be its brightest around that time of the month. Many also appreciate the added lubrication the fluid provides. But if the sight of blood still makes you queasy, dim the lights and lay down a dark or red towel before you begin. It helps.

Another good idea is to wear a condom. It makes cleanup a cinch (see: no blood on penis), and any direct contact with the red stuff will be significantly lessened. “I recommend sex in the shower or hot tub as well,” Rodgers advises. “Warm water helps with cramps and washes away sticky remnants of sex play.” Condoms also lessen the chance of a bacterial infection, as the cervix opens during menstruation and can therefore be more susceptible.

On most days, the cervix is likely to be positioned relatively low in the abdomen, according to popular female health app Clue. As your partner nears ovulation, the cervix can rise in the abdomen. Because of these changes, some women find deeper-entry positions, like doggy, more comfortable near ovulation when their cervix is high, as having the cervix bumped can be uncomfortable for many women. However, others find cervical contact or stimulation during sex to be intensely pleasurable, as the cervix contains nerve pathways involved in the sexual response (more on that here). So play around with depth to find what feels best for your partner.

Then again, you don’t even need to be inside your partner. Most women orgasm from clitoral stimulation, anyway. So if you still have doubts about how great period sex can be, you can always resort to external stimulation. Clue mentions a small study has found clitoral size increases by about a fifth in the days before, during and after ovulation, making it easier to find and stimulate, though they note more research is needed. “Mutual masturbation is always a sexy and great way to sexually bond,” Rodgers adds.

For less mess, have your partner rest on her back opposed to climbing on top, because gravity. And before you scoff–no, this doesn’t mean you’re limited to the missionary position. Sex in the spooning position causes less mess, and doggy is another noteworthy option. Something else that can aid in a tidier experience are menstrual cups (DivaCup, Lunette and Fun Cup offer some of the best iterations), a growing trend more and more women are embracing. "What’s great is that these intimate cups are soft, flexible and can be worn during sex," Rodgers explains. Though initially introduced as an environmentally-friendly substitute to tampons and pads, menstrual cups catch and store period blood, which makes for a near blood-free experience.

As generations become increasingly progressive toward sexual subjects tainted by stigma, it’s high time you give period sex an honest shot. After all, a lot of its stigma is born from a lack of sexual health education, which is especially pitiful in the U.S. “In other parts of the world, the World Health Organization (WHO) plays a huge part in educating this generation, and it shows in the acceptance of sex and sexually-related topics globally,” Rodgers shares. “Because of this lack of quality education, generations are fearful of the topic of sex and things related to it.” In some countries (Botswana, South Africa, Zambia, for example), a woman’s period is celebrated as a sign of fertility. Whereas here, a woman’s period is generally dismissed as a monthly nuisance. Perhaps now as we lurch toward acceptance, we will encourage increased sexual health and education in our own nation and recognize period sex as the exhilarating experience it can be.

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