Is Sex During Your Period Safe? Benefits, Pregnancy Risk, and STIs
This article explains whether sex during your period is safe, if there are any benefits or risks to period sex, and tips for having different types of sex while you have your period.
A note about sex and gender
Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “female” and “women” when discussing people assigned female at birth to reflect language that appears in source materials.
Learn more about the difference between sex and gender.
Period sex is safe, and generally, there are no health reasons to avoid sex during menstruation. This is true for all types of sex that involve the vagina.
It is safe to have vaginal sex during your period, but the same rules of non-period vaginal sex apply during period sex.
The primary consideration is that you can still get pregnant during period sex. This is particularly true if you have:
- irregular periods
- shorter menstruation time
- bleeding with ovulation
It is also still possible for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) to pass between partners when you have sex during your period. Take the same precautions to prevent transmission of STIs as you would during non-period sex.
If you are using a tampon, remove it before having vaginal sex. Penetrative vaginal sex could push the tampon further into the uterus, where you may be unable to retrieve it.
Some menstrual cups and discs can be safely worn during penetrative vaginal sex. Make sure to wash and sterilize your menstrual cup after sex.
Certain conditions, such as endometriosis, can make vaginal sex difficult at any time, whether or not you have your period. Talk with an OB-GYN if you experience any pain or discomfort during sex.
Oral sex is also safe during your period. If you and your sexual partner are comfortable with oral sex during your period, you can follow guidelines including the following:
- Use protection to prevent STIs.
- Change your tampon after sex.
- Clean the area, preferably with only water, to allow the vagina to maintain its healthy, slightly acidic state.
- Choose a gentle soap free of scents or perfumes if you use a cleanser.
- Use a menstrual disc, cup, or diaphragm to avoid bleeding during oral sex.
Masturbation is safe during your period.
A 2020 qualitative study of 40 women found that among those who report sexual activity during their periods, many cited masturbation as being more pleasurable than other types of sex.
There is nothing you need to do differently to masturbate during your period, although some additional cleanup may be needed.
However, if you are introducing anything into the vagina during masturbation, remove your tampon and replace it with a new one when you are done.
Just like with vaginal sex, you can keep a menstrual disc or cup in and clean the vagina after you finish. Ideally, use only water or a gentle cleanser if you use soap.
Mutual masturbation with a partner may also be an option for some people during a period.
There is a lower risk of pregnancy during period sex, but it is still possible to get pregnant if you have sex without birth control and ovulate close to the time you have sex.
For instance, if you have penile-vaginal sex that ends in ejaculation on day 7 of your period, then ovulate on day 10 or 11, it is possible conception could occur.
Sperm can live for 3-5 days in a female reproductive tract, so it is possible to have live sperm present for several days.
You may be at higher risk of pregnancy during your period if you typically have irregular periods or bleed for a short time during your period. If you typically have bleeding or spotting during ovulation, the risk of becoming pregnant during your period may also be higher.
However, the risk of pregnancy during the peak days of your period is lower than at other points during your cycle.
According to Planned Parenthood, an advocacy group that promotes sexual and reproductive health, some people find they are more aroused during their period.
This may be due to increased blood flow and hormones, which could make period sex more enjoyable.
There may also be other benefits to sex during a period, such as:
- decreased cramps and pain
- decreased risk of pregnancy for people trying to avoid becoming pregnant
- different sensations than during non-period sex
- more powerful orgasms
- increased lubrication from menstrual flow
Anytime you have oral, anal, or vaginal sex without a condom or other barrier method, there is a risk of STI transmission.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists explains that an STI can pass between sexual partners through bodily fluids or contact with the skin, mouth, penis, vagina, or rectum.
Period blood will not prevent transmission of an STI. Take the same protective measures you would during non-period sex.
If you are interested in having period sex, it may be helpful to start with communication. You could express your preferences, discuss any concerns, and then come to an agreement.
If you decide to have period sex, some strategies to make it more enjoyable could include:
- having sex on lighter flow days, such as near the beginning and end of the period
- putting down a towel or other absorbent material to help with any blood overflow
- having sex in the shower or bathtub to easily rinse away excess blood
- using a menstrual disc that is safe for vaginal intercourse
Does having sex during your period make you bleed more?
No. Having sex during your period does not affect how much blood you shed during menstruation.
Can males get an infection from period blood?
If the person having a period has a bloodborne pathogen, such as HIV, it is possible for the transmission to occur.
Other STIs can also be passed during period sex just like any other time if there is no condom or other barrier methods used.
All forms of sex — including vaginal, oral, anal, and masturbation — are safe during your period.
You should still use a condom or other barrier method to protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). If you have penetrative vaginal sex, remove a tampon before and wash only with water. If you do use soap, choose a gentle cleanser.
Although your chance of pregnancy is lower during your period, it is still possible to get pregnant during your period because sperm can live in the reproductive tract for 3–5 days.
If you choose to have sex on your period, some tips to make it more enjoyable include using an intercourse-safe menstrual disc, placing a towel down before you have sex, or having sex in the shower or bathtub.