The untraveled territory: period sex

Intellectual Intercourse 13:51 Mar 1, 2013 · Arts · By Ellysa Chenery

Periods aren’t exactly comfortable, and I’m not talking about cramps. They are often joked about and misunderstood, and the stigma can be so great that women are uncomfortable holding a tampon in public. It’s no surprise that some men and women recoil at the thought of having sex while the "monthly guest" is in town.

It’s really unfortunate that so many people feel this way as sexual arousal and pleasure can relieve cramps and discomfort. An orgasm is basically a stronger, but pleasurable cramp, during which the walls of the uterus and vagina contract and the uterine lining is encouraged to leave. Subsequent cramps will be less painful after orgasm as well, although even mild pleasure can help relax the uterine muscles and relieve pain.

Besides this, people on their period might want to have sex just because, well, they want to. Many women report being more aroused than normal during their period. You may ask what causes your once-a-week partner to turn into a sex fiend extraordinaire and, to be honest, I’m not sure what is responsible. It’s not like there is an obvious evolutionary advantage here. There is a related paradox: women in their second trimester of pregnancy may report more sexual desire than usual. Having said this, it would be a mistake to think that you can’t get pregnant during your period. It is highly unlikely, but possible because sperm can remain alive in the vagina for days. 

Condoms, in particular might be a good idea. When a woman’s flow is light and she cleans up beforehand, the partner may hardly get any blood on them at all, but a condom can still help with mess control. That, and laying out a towel.  But really, getting a few drops of blood on you seems like a small deal, especially when in comparison to the loads (ahem) of semen men produce upon ejaculation.

I suppose you could say that blood is grosser and not really something we associate with sex. That may be true, but I think this stems from a large stigma that menstrual blood doesn’t deserve. Firstly, the blood is vitamin-rich. You’re not going to drink it or anything, but it’s not made of anything that can hurt you. Menstrual blood is meant to safely nurture healthy babies into the world; it's like a bed full of cushions which also dispense a fetus' favourite foods. It doesn’t have to be in the same league as urine.

Secondly, women don’t really expel that much blood — three to four ounces, tops — but tampons and pads make it look like we bleed rivers. To get some perspective (and to save some money and time) you might try out the Diva Cup. It’s a small plastic cup that you place in your vagina, much like a tampon, which catches the blood. You only have to empty it twice a day and it’s quite easy to pull out. Anything that stops menstruation from being an annoying and costly trip the bathroom every four hours is great in my books. If you think this is a radical idea, you might be interested to know that they are fairly popular; you can find them at your local Shoppers Drug Mart.

All in all, period sex (or perhaps a wild week of masturbation) might be something worth considering — simply for the health benefits, of course.

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