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.