Dear Dr. G,
I am in my early twenties and I have started an amazing sexual journey with my girlfriend, who is also in her mid twenties.
As you can imaging, our sex drive is phenomenal, and we engage in sexual activities almost on a daily basis.
The problem is nature comes between our sexual experiences for at least five days every month when my girlfriend goes through her menstrual period.
However, we recently went ahead and had sex twice during her period and we did not have any adverse experiences after both occasions.
I suggested to my girlfriend we should continue having intimacy despite the menstruation from now on. She was natural horrified as we all assume it is harmful and risky to engage in sexual activities during menstruation. She thinks I am completely reckless and impatient. Mind you, she did not exactly complain during the last two occasions.
I wish to put Dr. G on the spot this week on the risks of period sex.
Is period sex completely unnatural? Am I being completely reckless and putting my girlfriend and myself at risk? If so, what sort of risks do I face from the two previous sexual instances?
We hope Dr. G can advise us and give us a clearer conscience.
Thank you in advance for the advice.
Menstruation, often referred to as "the period", is the regular discharge of blood and the mucosal lining of the uterus through the vagina. The typical length and time of menses ranges from 21 to 45 days, with a bleeding interval of 2 to 7 days.
As the menstrual cycle occurs due to the rise and fall of sexual hormones, it will have a general impact on the mood and sexual desires of a woman before, during and after menstruation.
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 quarantine women in residences called “menstrual huts”. Islam and Judaism also prohibit sexual contact with women during menstruation.
Although Western cultures have evolved from menstrual discrimination 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 as her
vaginal pH is higher and thus less acidic than usual during her period. The cervix is also positioned lower and its opening is more dilated. Lastly, the endometrial lining is absent during menstrual shedding. All these three factors have a theoretical risk of allowing organisms to access the bloodstream during penetrative sex.
On the other hand, several studies have revealed several health benefits of period sex. It is believed intercourse during sex can relieve menstrual cramps, as an orgasm can further contract the uterus to expel menstrual linings, resulting in shorter intervals of menses. Some even argue that the blood acts as a natural lubricant and the release of endorphins during sex relaxes women and relieves many symptoms of menstrual pain.
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 bedding. 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 blood and other bodily fluids that are produced during menstruation, hence the use of condoms is crucial for the reduction of such infections, in fact with or without menstruation.
The perceptions about period sex are unsurprisingly varied and divisive. A recent survey of 500 sexually active men and women on such issue revealed half of them called period sex “gross” and the other half described it as “natural”. Naturally, liberal Millennials are more accepting of such a practice being clean and safe, and older conservatives like Dr. G may be more resistant and repulsed.
The extraordinary German Writer and Statesman, Johan Wolfgang von Goethe, once challenge us with a statement: “The unnatural, that too is natural.” Although the world has generally moved away from the practice of menstrual taboo and segregation, engaging in penetrative sex during menstrual period will generally raise a “red flag” as such acts may be considered unnatural and unsafe. When Dr. G is put on the spot on his views about how natural is period sex; his view is paradoxically: “The natural, that too is unnatural”, especially if it involves a lot of cleaning up afterwards! On that note, I urge Risky Rick to perhaps remain calm and patient once a month and stick to cuddling instead!