During the last five years, our bedrooms have enjoyed a modern renaissance. We've seen the disruption of the mattress industry by companies like Casper, Leesa, and Tomorrow; our sheets have seen a shake-up with the growth of hip new direct-to-consumer bedding purveyors like Parachute, Brooklinen, and Boll & Branch; even our sex toys are more thoughtful than they used to be. Better sleep, better sheets, better sex: It’s basically a triple win.
Still, the period-panties brand Thinx believes there’s something missing from the mix. And that something is a blanket you can throw down when you're on your period and want to have sex.
If you’re anything like me, you’re probably thinking: Wait, I have a towel for that. As someone who exclusively buys white sheets (and who's easily driven to madness, Lady Macbeth style, by a stubborn stain), I will say that the idea that a carnal activity would leave my bedding speckled red and brown has always made the supremely unsexy, “Hold on, I’ll get the towel” moment worthwhile. It also turned out that, during my single days, most of the men I encountered were game for period sex. In fact, I recall thatseveral of them used the same line—the mess is part of the fun!—as if they'd all attended the same woke-male period-sex sensitivity-training seminar.
More often, I was the one who waffled when there was no towel around. Especially when the scene of the coupling was my expensive, pristine sheets. I am fortunate to have freed myself from period shame back in my teen years, and to currently have a partner who isn't deterred by that time of the month. But what I realized in my twenties was that even if sex during your period was becoming less of a big deal for dudes, the "fun mess" still required cleanup—and I was often still the one with the detergent and scrub brush in the aftermath. Maybe it’s because I knew more about how to lift stains. Maybe it’s because domestic chores will be the last bastion of gender power imbalance in the bedroom. In any event, throwing down a towel was the easiest way to avoid all that.
The Thinx blanket is, admittedly, much better looking than the towel method. One side is pale lavender satin—a coverlet you could easily leave out at the end of your bed, or on the back of your couch, without anyone thinking, “I bet that’s a period-sex blanket.” The cotton-backed side is where the magic happens: It utilizes the same four-layer technology that Thinx underwear does and purports to be capable of absorbing whatever you send its way. The Period Sex Blanket—that’s it’s proper name, no need to obfuscate there—is machine washable. But it needs to be hund to dry; depending on your sex schedule, that could be a drawback, though it also claims to be capable of handling “multiple rounds.”
Still, it’s the price tag that gave me the most pause when the press release arrived in my inbox—$369 for a sex blanket! You could buy tens of towels with that money! You could buy dozens of tarps! You could play a game of Twister and just see where things go!
When I asked Maria Molland Selby, the Thinx CEO, about the price, she told me it is meant more to be a conversation starter about period sex than something the company expects every woman to bring into her own bedroom. “We’re not expecting to sell thousands,” she said with a laugh. The aim is to take the stigma out of period sex in general, and also to sing its praises; if they also wind up selling lots of blankets—well, all the better.
And the thing is: Even in this body-positive, sex-positive world, that conversational spark is something we still sorely need. When I asked certain progressive-minded friends, who will talk about pretty much anything, about their period-sex experiences, a few refused to go there with me; others said that their partners refused to go there with them. Others still said that, while their partners would be more than willing, they themselves were still working out complicated feelings about the taboo.
There was another camp who thought that it boiled down to trust, comfort levels, and compatibility. “I think you’re more willing to do the grosser, weird sexual things with someone one you feel comfortable experimenting with,” one women told me, in response to a period-sex question I posted to Twitter. The takeaway: Trust and acceptance are not things you can buy, like a fancy, highly absorbent blanket. But we’ve all got to start somewhere, right?