Sex and menstruation: two entirely natural events that often go hand in hand with cultural and social taboos. Conversations about these individual events almost always summon archaic views about women’s bodies and what’s “normal,” “okay,” or even “right.” So it should come as no surprise that piecing them together to discuss period sex makes it feel like I’m facing the final boss of a video game that I did not sign up to play.
It wasn’t until I got my period one day—and it didn’t stop—that I had to face myself in a way that I never have before. I’m not sure if it was the PCOS, or almost seven pounds worth of polyps, or both, that caused this major health hiccup for six whole years of my life.
But, I was 100% sure that I was sick of hearing people express concern for my partner’s sexual satisfaction when I shared anything about my health. I realized in those moments that sex always centred the pleasure of cis-het men.
I often expressed my frustrations, sharing how tired and drained I was, but that I was doing my best. However, if I’m going to be honest, I was furious that nobody cared about my need for sexual intimacy. Especially when I truly felt…unpretty and undesirable. I was just too ashamed to admit that.
I genuinely believe that my partner’s consistent approach to sex is what shifted my own perspective. Our approach to sex as a couple, prior to my falling ill, was very much about letting loose, having a good time and focusing on each other.
Though I stopped wanting the focus to be on me because I was bleeding, his gentle nudges to see myself as worthy of pleasure had me wondering: does menstruating mean that I don’t deserve an—if not life-changing—a mood shifting, heavenly orgasm? If anything, I think I reached the conclusion that I deserved it now more than ever.
I’d love to share some general notes from my, errr…research? Here are my tips for making period sex easier for everyone:
With blood generally being a medium for bacteria, my gynecologist recommended that we use protection during period sex. This helps during cleanup, too.
Stick to close and easy positions
For comfort, I wouldn’t recommend becoming an acrobat (but you can do what feels right for you—the world is your oyster). Close and easy positions over a dark towel (a must) brought my partner and I closer to each other than any other act of sexual intimacy.
Keep a wet washcloth or pH-balanced wipes nearby
I’d recommend having a wet washcloth or pH-balanced wipes nearby for quick cleanup. Though I have to say that nothing beats a shower for me. Which brings me to my next tip.
Have shower sex
This can get slippery, so be careful if you decide to take this route. I, personally, quite enjoy shower sex when menstruating because even clean up becomes a physical act of intimacy. Level up your experience by giving your shower foot rest (often used for shaving) another—way more fun—purpose.
Period sex required a level of comfort and, therefore, vulnerability, for me at least. The icing on the cake was just how relieving it was for menstrual cramps and what a mood booster it was. And something else to think about? Sex isn’t always about penetration.
The shame surrounding periods and sexual pleasure for anyone with a vagina deprives so many of us of our well-deserved O’s. Suppose you try it and don’t like it? That’s okay too. What matters is that we aren’t trying to rationalize matters of the heart, and vagina. Some things are better left to be free and felt.
I honestly feel like all you need is to feel safe and somewhat know what to expect, have consent—of course—and not see yourself as ‘gross’ or ‘messy’ when you are beautiful, magical and beyond worthy of feeling incredible. And I mean, when has good sex ever not been messy? Nothing a dark towel can’t fix.