If you're a vagina-owning person who loves sex, you probably have strong feelings one way or the other about whether you want to do the deed while on your period. Some of us have sex drives that shrivel up to nothing during the time of the month and others become the horniest of horn-dogs.
There's no such thing as normal for that. It's all about preference.
However, a lot of us have the wrong idea about period sex: Stigma, shame and misinformation about menstruation is so common that a lot of young people think it's just not do-able and resort to meticulously tracking their periods to avoid jones-ing for a booty-call during Aunt Flo's monthly visit. So, unfortunately, there are a lot of #truths about period sex that far too many people are missing out on.
Dr. Maureen Whelihan -- an OBGYN who also runs her own sex clinic -- helped MTV News further debunk a few of those myths and gave us some excellent advice on how to get down while on the rag (in the safest and most satisfying way possible).
The first, and probably the most obvious, point: You totally can have sex during your period
It's totally normal to feel like garbage on your period, but there's no medical/health reason for you not to have sex if it's something you and your partner want to do.
"If she’s starting or ending [her period], there’s no reason medically why that wouldn’t be a perfect time for sex,” Dr. Whelihan said. However, “if she’s hemorrhaging” or experiencing the heaviest part of her flow, a woman may experience some discomfort or pain and not want to have sex.
Whelihan adds that even though there's no medical reason to not have sex, the stigma surrounding the menstrual cycle remains and can turn a lot of people and their partners off to it (even if they aren't ~literally~ turned off.)
Suzanne B., 24, told MTV News that having sex on her period used to be something she worried about more than her partners did.
"I used to be super apologetic about it, like I was trying to hide the fact that my body goes through this natural cycle each month, but as I got older, I stopped caring, and the guys I've slept with have stopped caring too," she said. "I still 'warn' them that I'm on my period, but most of the time, they're so happy to be getting in my pants that they don't care."
As the years went on, she said her anxieties about hooking up while on her period have subsided.
"I've also started gravitating more toward guys who aren't freaked out by the female anatomy, no matter how messy it can get, so that may be why most of the guys I've slept with don't care if I'm on my period," she explains. "I feel like the more we stop apologizing for our bodies, the more men will realize how natural they are."
She says that it obviously is still a person's choice: No one is ever required to have sex with someone and no one should ever be shamed for their decisions, but she says "getting freaked out over a completely normal and healthy cycle, especially at our age, is just childish in my opinion."
Dr. Whelihan said that “A lot of girls are told the period is dirty and messy: The initial rumor can come from those doing the teaching or they might arrive on it themselves," adding that the same can be said for their partners who may "find it's not hygienic if they're a bit more of a clean freak."
However, she said, a lot of those concerns aren't that big of a deal. The blood coming out during your period is sterile and it's not all that different from having sex any other time of the month. If you don't want a mess, you can put a towel down or use a some bed sheets you aren't too attached to. It'll be fine.
But you also need to remember to be safe.
You can still get pregnant on your period. If anyone tells you otherwise, they are sitting on a throne of lies (or, more likely, misinformation).
“While that’s generally a true statement — that if a girl has regular 28 day cycle [the period] is generally a great time to avoid risk -- it’s not guaranteed,” Dr. Whelihan said.
So, either way, if you are used to using a form of birth control during sex, keep on using it if you have period sex. If you're still nervous despite being safe, you can always consider other forms of stimulation too, to have sexy fun with less anxiety. Do you.
Likewise, you still need to be mindful of sexually transmitted infections. You may want to consider using condoms or other barrier methods to protect yourself and your partner.
"The cervix is a little more open during the menses," Dr. Whelihan said, which is why OBGYNs prefer to schedule appointments to insert intrauterine devices (IUDs) during that time. "But that could mean that theoretically there's a slightly higher chance" for exposure to an STI to happen.
Probably the coolest thing? Orgasms can totally destroy your cramps.
"Orgasms cure everything, don't they?" Whelihan laughed, before explaining the super cool biological chemistry behind this (literally) orgasmic miracle.
"During orgasm, several things happen in the brain — it releases endorphins, nature's pain killer, in your body. Prolactin is also released, which gives you that relaxed and positive and mellow existence after sex."
They can even shorten your period by speeding up the release of blood and tissue. So, yeah: You can actually f--k your way to a less painful period if you want to (although, as you might suspect, there will be blood).
"Whether it's by vibrator, penetration, manual stimulation...it does have a medicinal effect," Dr. Whelihan said.
One woman (who preferred to remain anonymous) told MTV News that although she's had period sex before, she'd never experienced the mystical "healing power" until very recently.
She explained how she was having sex with a partner for the first time and "wasn't bleeding a lot," but then was woken with some of those painful, late-night Cramps Of Doom™ and excused herself to the bathroom to "take Advil and cry to [herself] for a minute."
"When I came back, he was like 'ready to go?' and I was like 'nooo.' But then we did it and I had three orgasms in a row and was suddenly refreshed and feeling so magical: cramps entirely gone," she said. "I mean I had done it before with an ex-boyfriend, but this was the first time I really experienced its healing power."
She also said her partner was incredibly cool and chill about the blood and didn't make it weird at all.
"[It was] basically a magical orgasm bloodbath and he was really nice about it despite me getting like a quart of blood on his sheets," she said. "He literally told me 'It's fine, nothing that a trip to the laundromat can't fix' and I was like 'aww, you're nice yay'"
(And that, my friends, is what we call a #Keeper.)
But, you may want to consider pulling out anyway.
It's not all good news: In addition to potentially causing pregnancy, those pesky sperm can also do a bit of damage on their own.
A chemical -- prostaglandins -- inside all of those little swimmers can actually cause more cramps (or induce labor if you're already pregnant). So, again, just be careful and maybe stick to manual/toy/alternative kinds fun if you're nervous or prone to nightmarish cramps. There's a whole wealth of options for you to explore.
For even more information on sex, sexuality and birth control, visit It's Your Sex Life.