Image: Getty (additional design by Tina Tiller)
Image: Getty (additional design by Tina Tiller)

SocietyJuly 23, 2022

How to have period sex

Image: Getty (additional design by Tina Tiller)
Image: Getty (additional design by Tina Tiller)

Sex coach Michelle Kasey on navigating the wonder and weirdness of having sex on your period.

A few years ago, snuggled up on the couch with my partner watching comedian Ali Wong’s stand-up special Hard Knock Wife, I heard my favourite anecdote about period sex. While making out with a man on a date, Wong felt the responsibility to inform him that she was on her period. It was a fork-in-the-road moment that many will know well. 

He replied, “Oh, well then… let’s make a fucking mess, Ali.”

A moan of unadulterated approval escaped my mouth, as I realised a desire for this quality of liberated, feminist, body-positive romance I didn’t know ran so deep within me. While period sex isn’t (and doesn’t) have to be for everyone, personally I’m a big fan. Over my five-year career as a sex and relationships coach, I’ve facilitated plenty of conversations about period sex:

“Is it safe? Won’t it hurt?”

“My partner feels weird about it and I feel weird about their weirdness.”

“I don’t want to ruin my sheets.”

“I’m hella horny around my period.”

“Duh, of course, I have sex during my period.”

“EW – NEVER HAVE AND I WILL NEVER.”

The taboo around period sex is dissolving with the swell of the sex-positive movement. Research consistently reports that the majority of people who bleed don’t see their period as something that should get in the way of their pleasure. This is pretty bloody groovy, because period sex has benefits on benefits:

  • Orgasms release cramping by relaxing the muscles around the uterus
  • Endorphins dull pain
  • Natural lubrication (be honest, who flinched?) 
  • Deep bonding with a partner during a time of heightened sensitivity, vulnerability and a sense of openness
  • Can shorten the overall length of your period
  • An act of liberation from period shame (my personal fave)

I know there are still many curious folks walking among us, seeking permission & guidance to give period sex a good ol’ college try. If this is you, I got you. 

Photo: Getty Images

Step one: Talk to your partner about period sex

Personally, I’ve loved partners with different levels of comfort with period sex – from absolute enthusiasm to a genuine fear of blood and varied attitudes in between, sometimes steeped in a lack of education and fear. It’s not just people with periods who carry shame about bodies.  

It’s also important to note that different cultures have different relationships to period blood and therefore period sex. In tikanga Māori, waiwhero (menstrual blood) is tapu (sacred) and is believed to carry the ancestors of tangata whenua.

We must remember that we can only ever invite our partners to join us in an experience; give them high-quality information about the what, why and how, and hold space for anything they might be processing around this invitation. 

Here are a few conversation prompts to help you navigate this conversation:

  • “I’d like to talk about the possibility of trying period sex – what are your thoughts about it?”
  • “What fears/worries do you have about period sex?”
  • “How would you like to feel during the experience? What intentions could we set for the experience?”
  • “What might help you to feel more comfortable?”

If this conversation is difficult for you, intentionally breathe throughout to regulate your nervous system. Long inhales, longer exhales. Approaching conversations with genuine curiosity and willingness to understand where your partner is coming from is always beneficial. 

In season one of Starstruck, Jesse and Tom have the period sex talk

Step two: Start with period self-pleasure

One of my tenets for sexual liberation is to know your body better than anyone else. It’s powerful to flex your sexual sovereignty by getting intimate with your pleasure anatomy during your bleed. This is a beautiful opportunity to move beyond shame and demystify your body. Bring a mirror to the party and gaze at your vulva as part of your practice. Confidence comes from what you know, after all. 

Step three: Dip your toes in

Like many others, the first day of my period is super heavy. Which means more mess! There ain’t no shame if you’re inspired to dive right in on day one, but here’s a hot tip: missionary and spooning sex positions tend to create less mess. If you’re feeling shy, you might like to wait to explore on days three or four. 

Step four: Create a shameless clean-up plan

Lay down a towel or two and have a cloth or some tissues/wipes nearby. Darker-coloured towels can be preferable to avoid unintentionally tie-dying your whites. 

Beforehand, you might like to consider whether you’d like to head into the shower by yourself (or with your lover) once you’ve wrapped. Or perhaps you’d like to start, have sex and clean up in the shower? Unfortunately, my shower is far too small for this three-in-one.

Sometimes a shower can just be for showering

Step five: End on a high note

It can feel pretty vulnerable for things to finish with you sitting atop a bloody towel while your partner has run into the shower mid-scene because your blood spooked them more than expected. 

Trying new things in the bedroom can be clunky, awkward and messy even when you’re not bleeding. If your period sex doesn’t pan out quite as you hoped, find a way to come back together and end on a high! Closing with cuddles, compliments and kisses reduces the risk of hurt feelings and a vulnerability hangover. 

Having related to my period as a gross inconvenience for much of my life, period sex has invited me to peel away layers of shame and come home to a growing celebration for my body. As for you, I wholeheartedly celebrate the beauty of your cycle and the power of your pleasure, regardless of whether you decide to “make a fucking mess” or not.

Mad Chapman, Editor
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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