Dear Dr. G,
I understand you do not usually address sex issues related to women; I am hoping you can help me with my concerns as a newlywed.
My husband and I just got married after one year of engagement.
During the engagement, although foreplay can get very intense, but we never really went all the way, as both of us are just too young to get pregnant.
Now we are married and we really enjoy an active sex life.
My husband is not keen on using the condom as he felt the lack of intimacy is unacceptable. On the other hand, he also doesn’t want me to be on the pills as he worries I maybe facing difficulties to get pregnant in the future.
Now, we resort to having frequent sex just before and after my period. On several occasions, we even had sex during my period.
To be truthful, I don’t mind too much about intercourse during menstruation. In fact, I thought the sensation is heightened during the period. However, I just cannot help but worrying about the harm it may do to my husband or myself.
I would like to put Dr. G on the issues related to period sex.
Is it advisable to have sex during menstruation, and are there any risks of infections for both men and women during period sex?
What is the probability of pregnancy when having sex during the menses?
And lastly, is it true that period can affect women’s sexual arousal and in fact intensify sexual libido?
I really hope Dr. G can shed some lights on this practice of “Scarlet Love-making”.
Menses is generally perceived “unclean” and menstrual taboos are well described across many cultures. Hinduism frowns upon women visiting a temple during menstruation, and some traditions even sequester women in residences called “menstrual huts” reserved for the exclusive purpose. Islam and Judaism also prohibit sexual contacts with women during menstruation.
Although Western cultures have evolved from the menstrual discriminations and taboos, sexual activity during menstruation is still perceived to be risky and dangerous for both parties.
Sexual intercourse during menstruation itself is harmless, however some scientists may argue a woman’s body is more vulnerable during the menses. The vaginal pH is higher and thus less acidic than usual during the period. The cervix is also positioned lower with the opening more dilated. Lastly, the endometrial lining is absent during the menstrual shedding. All these three factors have the theoretical risk of allowing organisms to access the bloodstream during penetrative sex. In reality, the health risks and benefits of menstrual sex are negligible. The biggest and most obvious downside to having sex during period is the mess. Blood can get on both parties and the beddings. This may make both parties feel self-conscious and anxious, taking the fun out of sex! The other apparent worry is the transmission of sexually transmitted infections. Viruses like Hepatitis B and HIV can spread through menstrual products, hence the use of condoms is crucial for the reduction of such infection, in fact with or without menstruation.
Having sex during the period will likely not result in pregnancy, as the ovulation is usually more than ten days away. However, for women who have typically shorter cycles, there is a chance of getting pregnant after having sex during period. This is because sperms can survive in the uterus for up to five days. As such, couples having sex at the end of bleeding can still conceive four to five days later. The probability of pregnancy is low, however it is still possible. Several studies have revealed health benefits of period sex. It is believed intercourse during sex can relieve menstrual cramps, as orgasm can further contract the uterus to expel menstrual linings, resulting in shorter intervals of menses. Some even argue the blood acts as natural lubricants and the release of endorphin during sex, relaxes women and relieves many symptoms of menstrual pain. However, these views are controversial.
Multiple studies have demonstrated women have enhanced sex drives during their period. The exact mechanism of such enhancement is not known, however the increase in the testosterone levels during menstruation may be responsible. Of course, other factors such as psychologically knowing that period sex is mostly safe from pregnancy and the added benefit of lubrication may play a role.
The perception towards period sex is unsurprisingly varied and divisive. A recent survey of 500 sexually active men and women on the issue revealed half of them calling period sex “gross” and the other half described it as “natural”. Naturally, the liberal millennials are more accepting of such practice being clean and safe, and the older conservatives may be more resistant and repulsed. Therefore, open communication between couples and the use of condoms will ensure safety and mutual enjoyment of the sexual experience.
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Dr George Lee is a consultant Urologist and Clinical Associate Professor whose professional interest is in men’s health. The column “Ask Dr G” is a forum to help men debunk the myths and taboos on men’s issues that may be too “hard” to mention. You can send him questions at email@example.com
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