Period sex can be a seriously divisive topic. Some women think it's no biggie, while others get anxious at the thought of it. While there's nothing wrong with period sex (it's a natural thing, after all), some people need a little more convincing than others.
Whether you're thinking about having period sex for the first time or already do it on the regular, here are a few factoids worth remembering:
You definitely want to use a condom.
Although your cervix is closed most of the time, it opens during childbirth and when you're menstruating. "One function of the cervix is to protect your uterus from bacteria that may enter the vagina during intercourse," says board-certified registered nurse Jennifer Tine. "During [your] period it opens slightly to allow the uterus to shed. This opens a small gateway for bacteria to enter the uterus, increasing the possibility of infection." So, even if you're in a committed relationship, you still want to use a condom during period sex. The last thing you want is an infection you could have avoided, especially in that part of your body.
You want to skip any woman-on-top positions.
While period sex doesn't necessarily lead to a bloodbath, you still need to consider gravity and how it works. If you're on top during sex and it's during your heavy flow, there's a good chance that it could be bloodier than if you were on the bottom, ideally in the missionary position. If you and your partner don't care about the sight of blood, then the position you choose doesn't matter. However, if you want to protect your sheets, a dark towel on your bed or doing it in the shower can take care of that.
See more: Why You Shouldn't Wear Underwear to Bed
It's better than Midol for cramps.
Whatever your menstrual-cramp drug of choice, there's nothing quite like oxytocin, which is released during orgasms, to help with that pain. "Oxytocin is known to ease menstrual cramps and is known as the happy hormone for a reason," says Tine. "[In addition to] building feelings of connection, it acts as a pain reliever."
You can get still get pregnant.
Although you should be using a condom during period sex to keep bacteria out of your uterus, another reason to use one is that if you're not on a form of hormonal birth control, you can get pregnant. "For women with shorter cycles, 21 to 24 days opposed to the typical 28 to 30 days, the risk is higher," says registered nurse Gigi Gaytan. "Sperm can live for about two to three days, sometimes even up to five days, so if sex occurs at the end of the period and ovulation starts early with the sperm still alive, there is the chance the woman can get pregnant." Sure, the possibility is slim, but if you're not ready to have a baby, this is something to take seriously.
It can shorten your period.
If you have long periods, then you definitely want to give period sex a try. Why? It can wrap things up sooner. With every orgasm that shoots oxytocin into your body to alleviate cramps, the contraction that accompanies the orgasm helps to flush out the uterine lining faster than if left to its own devices. This isn't to suggest that one romp will lead to your period being gone by the morning, but it will shorten it enough that you're likely to notice a difference.
You're hornier than usual.
According to Gaytan, the hormonal changes that happen during your period—namely increased estrogen and testosterone levels—leads to intensified arousal. In addition to being more aroused, period sex means you have all the natural lubrication you could possibly want, something that can make sex feel even better than it might when you're not menstruating.
Sure, period sex can get a little messy, but there are clearly some benefits to having it.