Is Sex During Menstruation Harmful? The Scientific View

Sex during a woman’s period may be off the table for many couples. The thought of the mess, combined with the cultural and religious stigmas associated with menstruation in some communities, may be enough to put some people off. At the same time, the idea that it could be a chance to go protection-free without getting pregnant appeals to many. But is that even true? And are your other reasons for or against the idea scientifically valid?

There’s No Risk In Having Sex During Menstruation

Having intercourse during your period may not be the most common thing to do, but it shouldn’t be taboo either. While it can be a little messy, there’s no real reason for you to abstain at this time of the month. As long as neither of you is queasy about a little blood, go right ahead and have your fun without worry.1


Having Sex During Your Period May Actually Have Benefits

There are benefits to having sex when you’re menstruating. You’re likely to feel more oomph in your drive to have sex by the third day of your period. That’s because the hormone levels change, with testosterone levels rising and causing you to feel more libidinous.2 The result? A more rewarding experience for the couple.

The sexual act also causes oxytocin to be released, which can ease the depression and cramps associated with menstruation.3 Orgasms are a great way to relieve menstrual cramps. And sex is a great way to relieve migraine pain as well. So if the lady is down with a bout of menstrual migraine, why not try the period sex cure?


The additional contractions during sex and an orgasm also mean your body is able to expel the blood and tissue faster, and some suggest that may even help shorten the length of the period – though further scientific study is needed to back this up.

But Unprotected Period Sex Raises The Risk Of STIs And Other Diseases

One thing you need to keep in mind, however, is that the risk of contracting or passing on sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is marginally higher during the period. This works both ways – so a man to woman as well as a woman to man transmission of an STI could happen more easily. That’s because of the additional blood and fluids present in the woman’s vagina during this time of the month.


The solution is rather simple – use a female or male condom for protection while having sex.4

The cervix also opens up during menstruation, putting you both at risk of transmission of blood-borne diseases like hepatitis or HIV. Yeast and bacterial infections also become more likely due to the change of pH of the vagina to less acidic than usual.5


Though Rare, Period Sex Can Result In Pregnancy

According to the American Pregnancy Association, the question of whether or not your period is the ideal time to have sex depends on what your aim is. If the idea is to avoid getting pregnant at all costs, you should be aware that it is possible to get pregnant during a woman’s period. The chances are, however, not at their peak, so if you’re trying to conceive, this may not be the best time.

Which begs the question, does it matter which day you’re having intercourse on? And who is more at risk (or has better chances – depending on your perspective) of getting pregnant? If you happen to ovulate early you may just get pregnant. A man’s sperm is capable of surviving as long as a week in a woman’s body, making this a window in which conception could happen for someone with a 28–30 day cycle. If you’re someone with a 21–24 day cycle, you probably ovulate earlier on in your cycle too. This means you have chances of conceiving even a few days after your period and sexual intercourse have occurred.6 Here’s a detailed guide on your chances of pregnancy during period.


Take Precautions If You Decide To Have Sex During Menstruation

Should you choose to experiment with sex at this time of the month, take the necessary precautions to protect your partner and yourself from contracting STIs, HIV, or getting pregnant.

  • Change your sanitary pads or tampons often to prevent bacterial buildup during your period, especially if you plan to have sex.
  • Use a female condom or menstrual cup or a male condom to prevent the direct exchange of any body fluids between both partners. Choose a disposable menstrual cup which is more pliable. Don’t use your reusable one, which is harder and may even hurt your partner.
  • Shower and get cleaned up before you get down and dirty!
  • Lubricate well before and urinate right after intercourse to expel bacteria that may have traveled into the bladder.
  • Keep a washcloth nearby to mop up any messes and spread out a dark absorbent towel on the bed.
  • Stick to the missionary position with the man on top to minimize mess.