Period sex is a hot topic, and even if it’s not for you, just enter­tai­ning the con­ver­sa­tion is undo­ing this taboo. It’s 2020, and we’re tal­king about the bloody ele­phant in the room. 

It’s totally okay if you don’t want to have period sex; it’s not for ever­yone. You shouldn’t ever force yourself to do some­thing that you’re not ent­i­rely enthu­si­astic about. 

But it’s worth doing a per­so­nal check-in to find out if there are con­cea­led bia­ses at play that are kee­ping you from doing some­thing you might actually enjoy. 

So where are those bia­ses com­ing from? 

The Stigma of Menstruation

Mens­trua­tion has a long, exhaus­ting history of stigma. Con­si­der Levi­ti­cus 15

“When a woman has her regu­lar flow of blood, the impu­rity of her mon­thly period will last seven days, and anyone who tou­ches her will be unclean till evening…”

and any man that tou­ches her will be unclean too, the verse says.

In fact, it was only in the 1950s that the medi­cal com­mu­nity finally accep­ted the sci­en­ti­fic fact that mens­trual blood is not, after all, toxic. 

We can attri­bute this long­stan­ding theory to Dr. Bela Schick who, after noti­cing that some flowers had wil­ted after being hand­led by a mens­trua­ting nurse, con­clu­ded that mens­trual blood was toxic. He coi­ned the term meno­to­xin, a sub­s­tance secreted in the sweat of mens­trua­ting women. 

From evil to deadly to just plain gross, period blood has a bad rap. It’s no won­der that some of us have trou­ble thin­king about incor­po­ra­ting it into our sex lives. So many mens­trua­ting people already face chal­len­ges that keep us from enjoy­ing sex: body image issues, sexual trauma, or cul­tu­ral messages of shame. 

Keeping our periods a secret

At the same time, we remem­ber being the girl who acci­dent­ally bled through her pants in middle school. Or if it wasn’t us, we wat­ched as it hap­pened to someone else. That was a les­son that our period is some­thing to be hid­den, lest we suf­fer public embarrassment.

We’ve been asked, in the middle of a con­flict, if we were on our period. That was a les­son that we should keep our period a secret, lest we risk being invalidated.

And we’ve grown up using euphe­misms to describe our period. We lear­ned them from our mothers, and tea­chers, who lear­ned them from their mothers and tea­chers. “Aunt flow”, “that time of the month”, and my new per­so­nal favo­rite, “shark week”. 

These euphe­misms taught us that even when spea­king about our peri­ods, we should keep an emo­tio­nal distance so that we don’t make others uncomfortable. 

Howe­ver, the cul­ture is chal­len­ging these beliefs. With more femmes taking on pro­duc­tion roles, we’re see­ing more ute­rus-talk on screen. Sex-posi­tive pod­casts like the Savage Love­cast are openly tack­ling all kinds of sex-rela­ted topics, period sex included. 

The wri­ters of Crazy Ex-Girl­friend devo­ted an ent­ire musi­cal num­ber to period sex.

Artists like Vanessa Tiegs are using their mens­trual blood as a medium. 

In her essay, It’s Bloody Fan­tastic, Adri­enne Maree Brown con­clu­des her essay with this dedi­ca­tion, “This piece is for those who have won­de­red how we can live in a society that so easily embraces the blood of war (or the fake blood of the war enter­tain­ment indus­try) but gets faint around blood that only exists as part of a cycle of life-making.”

Should You Try Period Sex?

Sure, why not? Before you try anything new, ask yourself: why am I try­ing this?

Is it because I’m curious?

Is it because I’m intrigued?

Is it because I want to make my part­ner happy even though I don’t really feel any way about it?

Is it because I want to appear a cer­tain way to someone?

Is it because my part­ner is pres­su­ring me to do it even though I don’t want to?

If your ans­wer is yes to one of the first three ques­ti­ons, then go for it. But if you’re fee­ling pres­su­red, or there’s a “no” going off in your brain, then take your foot off the bra­kes. You may need to do a little more dig­ging into what you’re fee­ling. And if you feel com­for­ta­ble, you can invite your part­ner into that process. 

Tips To Make Period Sex Great

Period sex can be great for many rea­sons. First of all, you’ve got your built-in lube. Second, orgasms can relieve PMS sym­ptoms. Some mens­trua­ting people find that they’re hor­nier when they’re blee­ding so it can make for a really fun session.

Here are some poin­ters and things to keep in mind to help you along your jour­ney of intimacy.

1. Get comfortable talking about your (or your partner’s) period.

If you feel sque­a­m­ish around period blood but suspect it may be cul­tu­ral con­di­tio­ning, tal­king about it is the first step. Start with people you trust, like friends who also mens­truate. Then chal­lenge yourself to be more open about it. Maybe you talk openly around male-iden­ti­fy­ing people in your life who typi­cally skirt the subject. 

Or maybe you join the many IG accounts openly tal­king about mens­trua­tion

Notice what it feels like to say some­thing direct like, “I star­ted blee­ding today”. 

2. Wait until day 3 or 4 to have period sex.

You (or your mens­trua­ting part­ner) may be fee­ling kind of crappy on day 1 or 2 and the blee­ding will likely be hea­vier. Wait until the flow is a little ligh­ter to try it for the first time. You’ll be sur­pri­sed by how little clean up is actually needed.

3. Do it in the shower.

Yes, always the sho­wer! If clean­li­ness is a con­cern, there is no bet­ter place to start making a bloody mess than in the shower. 

4. Do it by yourself.

You don’t need a part­ner to start sma­shing the patri­ar­chy. Solo period sex is still period sex!

5. Use a toy.

Does it weird you out but you want to chal­lenge that? Get a toy and play with your part­ner or yourself while you’re on your period. 

Whe­ther you’re a per­son who mens­trua­tes or your part­ner is, desire can feel elu­sive some­ti­mes. If you’re expe­ri­en­cing more sexual desire on your period then embrace it. Lean into the expe­ri­ence as far as you’re comfortable.

For some people, period sex just isn’t inte­res­ting. But for many of us, it’s an oppor­tu­nity to unlearn old les­sons that don’t serve us at all. 

Kara Daly, freelance blogger, copywriter, womxn's health, sexual wellness, copybykara, Vulvani
Kara 
Copy­wri­ter | Web­site | + posts

Kara Daly is a free­lance blog­ger and copy­wri­ter spe­cia­li­zing in womxn's health and well­ness. Visit her web­site at www.copybykara.com or fol­low her on Insta­gram @karadillydally.