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Your Complete Guide To Having Period Sex

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This post is a part of Periodपाठ, a campaign by Youth Ki Awaaz in collaboration with WSSCC to highlight the need for better menstrual hygiene management in India. Click here to find out more.

Caution: Period sex is not natural contraception as one can still get pregnant. Safe sex is a must!

In an infamous scene from the book Fifty Shades of Grey, Christian Grey removes Anastasia Steele’s tampon, and they have period sex. It’s not a usual scene since period sex is contentious.

A friend of mine, Nayanika, recalls reading it while in high school. She says, “Christian Grey doesn’t care about consent as a dominant. Whereas consent is literally the ground on which BDSM as a concept stands. He disregards consent throughout the book like it’s his favourite sport.” So, this reduced it to just another misogynistic fetish.

The scene didn’t hit the theatres, and when asked, the director told Variety, “It was never even discussed“. How is evading discussion an answer to this, especially in a plot that is driven by sexual encounters? But, like periods, it was treated like an open secret—a clear testament to how period sex remains an uncomfortable discussion. So it’s high time we normalize sexual desires like period sex instead of hanging them on the extremes of impurity to fetish.

Why Do It?

Why not? In a survey I conducted, 8 out of 15 respondents wrote they experience increased desire during periods. Sexual pleasure helps reduce PMS stress, fatigue, cramps, pelvic pain, and headaches by releasing endorphins like oxytocin, dopamine. It often shortens periods as intensified uterine contractions flush out the content faster along with prostaglandins responsible for cramps.

An anecdote of a female stylist on Harper’s Bazaar read, “I feel more aroused during my period sometimes. Currently, I am dating a woman, so I am less self-conscious about having period sex because I know that she is not turned off by it and it can be quite enjoyable.

How does it feel?

A friend, Kriti (name changed), says, “I feel quite horny during periods, but it isn’t my usual wild routine. My go-to period sex is lazy vanilla sex. It is good only if both involved are cool with it. I had period sex on my second and third day. It felt comforting as I’m usually sad and cranky. I felt a sudden happy rush which stayed on for quite some time and cramps went away.

Image design by Rupsa Nag

This varies from person-to-person. I can vouch for clitoral stimulation; it helps my cramps. Stimulating other sensitive zones using your hands or a toy also works for many. Period sex for some is nothing exceptional. For some, it provides temporary relief from cramps and the sadness PMS brings. For others, it may cause dyspareunia (painful sex), a symptom one shouldn’t ignore.

The Mess

Period sex isn’t as messy as we think. On an average, people lose about 10-80 ml (2-4 teaspoons) blood per cycle.I had a preconceived notion that it’ll rain blood, but nothing like that happened. Even if the flow is heavy, there’s only a little spotting,” Kriti says.

If blood irks you too much you can pre-determine your flow, opt for lighter days and comfortable positions. You can also use a covering for your bed/couch/counter. Many also opt for shower sex.

The Double Whammy

Both menstruation and sex are seen as taboos. Period blood is seen as dirty, while the word sex is whispered behind tightly shut doors. It’s understandable if blood isn’t up your alley. Find other ways to get closer to your body or partner’s and be pleasantly surprised! But, treating a menstruating partner as impure at a time when everything else is hurting, is so undesirable.

So, Explore

Neera (name changed) recalls, “My then-boyfriend… he started kissing me. I somehow forgot that I was menstruating, probably because I felt super horny. It was only when I heard the pad rustle that I blurted out, “Don’t go down south; it’s a crime scene there.” I giggled, he cracked up, and we laughed. We kept it mostly to the top, which helped because my breasts are very sensitive. He rubbed against me and cuddled me tight. I felt happy and affectionate; cramps were gone. I would’ve gone through with it but for protection. The stigma never crossed my mind.

Pink Wave by lily fox on Deviantart

So, move over heteronormative idea of sex as the only gateway to pleasure. Dirty talk, clothed sex, oral sex, cuddling, foreplay, clitoris stimulation, mutual masturbation are alternatives galore. Map out your erogenous zones with your partner. Finger yourself. Rub your clit. Try sex toys and different positions that stimulate different orgasms and stimulate your sensitive zones (ears, breasts, nipples, even the knee!). Remember Monica’s seven spots? There are more. So find what sparks joy in you and declutter!

Communicate

If you’re interested in period sex, don’t assume your partner will find it dirty. Approach them and discuss. Because period is a taboo, a good conversation will help you lose your inhibitions and how they respond would be a great judge of your relationship. Sex or no sex, a healthy discussion forges intimacy and trust.

In the end, it all boils down to personal choice. But give yourself the chance to weigh in your likes and dislikes by dissociating them from social conditioning and associating them with what you feel like doing.

The author is a part of the current batch of the #PeriodParGyan Writer’s Training Program

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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