On Thursday, we co-hosted a Twitter party with sexperts Heather Corinna of Scarleteen and Erika Moen of Oh Joy Sex Toy. Our highly informative (and frequently laugh-out-loud funny) #SexPeriod chat focused on how menstruators and their partners feel about period sex. Read on for a recap of our chat!
1. Sex with a partner and/or masturbation while on your period: great, gross, or just oh-whatever?
Most of our Twitter partiers agree: getting down with some sexy times during menstruation definitely helps with cramps. Some feel a little lower libido than usual, but for the most part it was a unanimous YES to this question (especially if you put down a towel first).
2. How have your sexual partners handled your period, or you theirs?
While one tweeter once had a young man tell her she was disgusting for wanting to have sex while on her period, a surprising number of partners couldn’t care less about a little extra lubrication! Way to go, non-menstruators.
3. Do you feel more or less sexy — or the same — whatever “sexy” means for you, when menstruating?
Aside from the cramps, bloating, constipation, and period zits, you’re feeling super sexy when you’re on the rag! And nothing’s sexier than a partner who soothes you during a particular bad bout of PMS.
4. Who finds their cycle influences your desire for sex? And how?
Some people find their desire is higher because they’re less afraid of accidental pregnancy. Others’ libidos drop due to hormonal impacts. In our Twitter party, many menstruators reported feeling most aroused the week leading up to their periods or when they were ovulating.
5. Do any of you feel any pressure to suppress periods (if that’s not what you’d want, ideally), especially when it comes to sex?
Most of us have skipped periods using hormonal birth control at least once, particularly when we were younger. Reasons included: long-distance partners coming to visit, staying at a significant others’ home and not wanting to stain their sheets, general convenience, or to avoid painful periods. Pro tip: if you’re going to skip a period, keep your OBGYN in the loop and always use a condom for back-up.
6. Why do you think people who treat or think of menses so differently than other body fluids do?
This question got responses ranging from blood is GROSS to societal fears of women’s bodies. Gloria Steinem’s famous essay If Men Could Menstruate was cited as an example of how menstruation might be viewed differently if men were the ones with periods… and then quickly devolved into a competition of who could fill their menstrual cup faster.
More questions & answers from our #SexPeriod chat participants:
Q: I’ve heard if you avoid sugar during/before shark week cramps aren’t so bad. Anyone know if this is true?
- “Definitely helps me! And eating right in general.”
Q: Anyone noticed a heavier flow since going hormone free? Things haven’t been this messy since I was a teenager, or had a baby!
- “My period got heavier and cramps worse when I got my copper (no hormones) IUD inserted”
- “I’ve had the opposite! After stopping hormonal bc my period has been super manageable.”
- “My flow was really heavy before my IUD”
Q: I’m hoping for some sex toy conversation because I am a sex toy n00b.
- “I’d say definitely use non-porous toys or a porous toy with a condom, or there might be staining, etc”
- “Some folks earlier were asking about periods and sex toys: easy to clean as usual, or just cover with a condom for ease!”
And of course, no menstrual discussion is complete without a few funny period stories:
- Favorite ex-boyf period sex story: After we banged on a HEAVY flow day, he didn’t have anything to clean up the massacre… So, he walked out in nothing but a condom, COVERED in blood, and told his roommates, “Guys… I… I killed her.” Epilogue: All of his roommates screamed and ran out, & he was free to leisurely walk into the kitchen for a roll of paper towels.
- True story: The first time I got my period, my mom had JUST finished telling me about it. After, I had to pee, so I went to the bathroom, looked down, and said “Uh… Mom…? What do I do now that I started?”
- Menstruation confession: I’ve always found my period to be embarrassing since when I started we were at Buffalo Wild Wings. And my mom got so excited that she shouted it out at my dad, 4 bros, and everyone watching football.
- When I got my first period I didn’t realize it because the color was brown instead of red, so I assumed I sharted w/out realizing. And when it kept reappearing throughout the day I was like “HOW AM I WET FARTING WITHOUT FEELING IT???” panicked at my mom and she explained what was happening. And then my whole family took me out for a pizza dinner and hugged me.My dad was so proud of me, the memory of his smile and hug that night is my default mental image of him.
Major thanks to our pals Erika and Heather, and everyone who showed up to tweet about sex and periods! If you agree that everyone deserves quality sexuality education, please support Scarleteen with a donation. Knowledge is power!
Erika Moen is the co-creator and cartoonist behind Oh Joy Sex Toy, which is a weekly comic reviewing sex toys, sharing sex education, and generally promoting sex positivity. She is a queer, 16 year comics industry veteran, wife, and cat mom in Portland, Oregon. Be sure to check out her comic review of the Moon Cup and GladRags Pantyliners!
Heather Corinna is the founder of Scarleteen. She’s also an activist, writer, artist, teacher and community organizer. She has been widely recognized as a pioneer of both women’s and young adult sexuality information and education online, having brought inclusive, feminist, creative and comprehensive sexuality content to the web and beyond since 1997.