Bust the period sex myths. Don’t fear, period doesn’t need to mean time off from sex.

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“The world has taught us lots of menstrual embarrassment, and releasing that to make space for pleasure is very empowering—whether you have period sex or not,” clarifies Luna Matatas, a Toronto-based sex and pleasure educator. “Having an enthusiastic and non-shaming partner can be healing for menstruating partners.”If period sex sounds like something you need to try, you likely have more than a few questions, so let’s tackle them with some professional advice.

Discussing period sex can be uncomfortable.

Turn on before things get steamy.

“Try having a discussion outside of sex and of your period to get an understanding of what their take on period sex is. It may be a non-issue or you may find out it’s a strong ‘nope.’ But this discussion can be a beautiful opener into all sorts of non-vulva or non-penetrative-focused sexual pleasure that is feasible,” says Matatas.

It’s also completely OK to not like to have sex while on your period. And to be clear, not being in the mood does not imply you are obligated to fulfil oral sex on your partner.

“But several people do experience extra horniness during their period due to hormonal changes,” says Matata. Those changes include, for a cisgender woman, a rise in estrogen levels, which Matatas explains can make it simpler to attain orgasm and experience greater sensitivity. What’s not to love?

How does period sex work?

Period sex functions exactly like normal sex, with this incredible plus: you’ll have better and natural lubrication due to the menstrual blood. Although you might need to protect your blankets or wherever you decide to hook up.

Is it going to be super messy?

One cannot polish poetic about period sex without dealing with the sheer messiness of it all. Because yes, it gets moist, it gets bloody and it gets potentially everywhere. But there are strategies to take cover.

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If you prefer to keep the priority on stimulating the clitoris, for instance, you can wear a tampon, tampon sponge or menstrual cup (ones that are extremely comfortable during penetration include.) For lighter blood flow, you can also try utilizing internal condoms, also called female condoms.

Oppositely, dark towels are your playmate. Few people have a jerk-off towel, why can’t you have a period towel? You can also put down disposable incontinent pads, a mattress protector or waterproof sex blankets, which are also called “squirt sheets.”

How about unprotected period sex?

The response here is similar whether you’re on your period or not. Because like other bodily fluids (e.g. semen, vaginal fluids), blood can transmit sexually transmitted infections (STIs)—so using a condom is still important.

It’s not wise.” Why? “ Because rarely— but sometimes—there is enough estrogen and therefore cervical mucus there to nourish sperm and give them a place to survive until ovulation. It’s also easier to pick up an STI during your period.

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Dr. Christine Derzko, a physician at St. Michael’s Hospital and a professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of Toronto

Is period sex pregnancy possible?

Pregnancy is possible (though less of danger during menstruation) as sperm can still effortlessly find a cosy home as Derzko noted above. If getting pregnant is not of concern, other than condoms, you can also turn to birth control, dental dams and gloves.

Does period sex increase bleeding?

It’s complicated. “Male or female orgasmic discharge can alter your cycle’s bleeding via a surge in prostaglandins (lipid compounds that are found in human tissue and have hormone-esque effects), which are implicated both in coagulation and in cramping,” says Derzko. “That can lead to potentially less bleeding, more or fewer cramps, while the female orgasm can relieve some of those cramps.”

Sex can affect your period cramps?

Yes. Many specialists deem this one of the main possible advantages of period sex. Because an orgasm can discharge those types of chemicals—oxytocin, dopamine, endorphins—that make you feel happy, period sex can also ease the pain of cramping, and that is a real win.

However, not everyone agrees. Dr Gail E. Robinson, a physician at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, says the assumption that sex can alleviate any sort of period pain is nothing more than “an old wives’ tale.” It appears more than a few things when it comes to women’s health are still up for discussion, but the divisiveness here might be all the more reason to investigate.

Does period sex postpone a period?

No, period sex won’t postpone your menstrual cycle, unless of course, you get pregnant, in which case…yes, by about nine months.

Robinson explains, “When your period starts and ends have nothing to do with sex. Your period is determined by chemicals that are secreted from an area of your brain, go down to your ovaries, tell your ovaries to start producing an egg, then the system goes back to your brain and it tells different chemicals to come out and tells that egg to be released.”

Is period sex better than routine sex?

Blood can be relatively beautiful—sexy even—if you let it.

“You can eroticize your period,” says Matata. “We do it with jizz through facials and body shots, but blood can be that way, too.”

For instance, she says, here are some things you can do while having sex on your period that you can’t at other times of the month: body blood stamping, which can be a part of primal play or dominance and submission. Or watch menstruation together in the mirror while masturbating or touching each other and possibly discover a new sensual element together.

If and when you do lend it a shot, it’s worth remembering: traditional sex is super messy with sweat, sperm, discharge and even breast milk in some bedrooms. Fluids are our friends, not something worth seizing an entire seven days off.