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I Used To Think Period Sex Was Wrong, But It Has Changed Over Time. Here’s Why!

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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.

For a culture that raises eyebrows at every mention of sex or periods in a normal conversation, period sex is an even more controversial topic. So when I came across photographer Nolwen Cifuentes’ documentation of queer couples having sex on their period, I was a little taken aback, but admittedly in awe of the pictures. For someone who loves watching art capturing human bodies in their raw and natural state, her work made me look at period sex as a profoundly intimate and beautiful act.

I tried to juxtapose my thoughts about the pictures she had taken with the popular notion about the topic I often come across- it’s gross and dirty. This is contrasting to the kind of ‘open’ conversations my friend circles have. There is enough dialogue about sex and menstruation, but period sex has never really come up.

There is anecdotal evidence that period sex can help ease a person’s mood and even alleviate cramps. Orgasms release endorphins which are the happy hormones. This release during periods can thus enable a menstruator a great deal! So it does seem like the thing to try with your partner, but do people do it?

I put out a message asking people who felt comfortable talking to me about their experiences, and a few of the people replied! So well people do it. To understand their experiences, I conducted interviews talking in-depth about their thoughts and feelings about period sex.

A Change Of Perception

I used to think it was wrong and not okay, but my perception has changed a lot over time. I think it is about finding the right partner“, says Swati*. She says that the feelings of it being gross are part of the experiences of trying it initially and that it also depends on how your partner makes you feel about it. Finding the right partner, according to her, meant finding someone with who you could openly have a conversation on period sex.

Varun* who is in his final year of college described his first experience of period sex to me, “I got to know she was on her period when she got to my place. I’m not going to lie. I was a little hesitant because I thought it would get messy. But once we did it, there wasn’t any mess, and I did not have a bad experience. It went well.” He says that he had read about period sex and his only inhibition about it was that it could be messy. It turns out; it isn’t so dirty!

Talking to people made me realize that the mental image of period sex created when you first think about it is often a blood-bath situation! But menstruators do not have a bloody river flowing from their vagina. Yes, there is blood but not everywhere and not the same amount every day or even in every cycle.

I used to update my partner’s flow app, and that is how I got to know the flow is different on different days. The thing is that most men know about periods and what happens, but they do not know that it is not a bloody or heavy flow every single day of the period. Even advertisements do not convey that clearly“, adds Varun.

I try to imagine the picture of periods men might have. Blood everywhere, almost a Quentin Tarantino movie. But that was about men which brings me to my next question.

What Is Period Sex like For Women?

A lot of women think period sex will be weird or gross and hence they do not give it a thought. Often, it is almost by default that sex for those days will be out of the question. Of course, there are also days where you feel not up to it. However, the conversation around period sex has a lot to do with how we think about our bodies and sharing them with other people.

Swati says, “It’s a very vulnerable time when a girl is bleeding. And women grow up with a certain type of conditioning where they are often not comfortable with menstruation themselves.

She says that a lot of how you feel depends on your partner as well. You both should be comfortable with it. Not everyone is comfortable being naked with each other, and a lot of couples have sex with the lights closed. So having sex on periods is a whole new addition to intimacy.

Tanya* says that it was not uncomfortable for her and her partner to see blood on the towel or the protection. “The thing I have noticed is that a lot of women are not comfortable seeing period blood and they are scared of ‘kahin lag jayega’“. She also adds that people should give it a try if they are comfortable as she found sex better during her period.

The interviewees left with me some dos and don’ts they considered necessary for people who were thinking of giving period sex a try. Here are some of them:

  • It is not just about you being comfortable, but they should be too. Talk to your partner about it and proceed only if they are comfortable with it.
  • You can conceive during your periods too. So use protection.
  • Please don’t assume your partner will not be into it. A lot of men are okay with having sex during periods, and often we stop ourselves because we think they won’t be into it.

While I hope reading this article takes some stigma off this topic and initiates a discussion, I don’t think it’s everyone’s cup of tea. It is perfectly okay to not be into it or to have a partner who is not comfortable with it. These conversations also brought to my notice the lack of these narratives in media representations.

Sex is capitalized on! It is sold in the form of products and often in problematic ways. From Axe deodorants and their objectification of women to various other problematic representations, we deserve healthy conversations around sex. Like Swati put it, “Just show the actual thing and stop with the subtler representations!

* The names of the interviewees have been changed by the author to maintain their anonymity.

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

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Find out more about her campaign here.

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