MENSTRUATION IS A NORMAL PART OF FEMALE PHYSIOLOGY, but in the social system of values, a difficult attitude has formed towards it. On the one hand, menarche (the first period) is an important moment of growing up for a girl, about which it is customary in some cultures to arrange a holiday. On the other hand, the onset of menstruation is often associated with negative feelings and emotions such as discomfort and shame. The opinion is imposed on women that menstruation is dirty and indecent, so they need to be hidden.
With this attitude to menstruation, sex during it can also seem taboo. The rationale behind the taboo ranges from medical explanations about the increased risk of infections to, again, the idea that periods are dirty and should not be seen by a man. Despite the eternal urgency of this problem, there is very little scientific research and statistics available on the topic of sex during menstruation. One of the last large-scale polls was conducted by the World Health Organization back in the 80s. Then 54% of women in the UK believed that it was better to avoid sexual contact during menstruation, and in more conservative regions, for example, in Latin America and Asia, this figure reached 98%.
The prejudice is strong today: a recent study by the creators of the Flex membrane for menstruation sex showed that many women avoid intimacy during menstruation and abandon it twice as often as men. “Women told us that they were embarrassed to dirty everything around and 'spoil the moment' by informing a man about his period,” says the founder of the company Lauren Schulte. In an attempt to dispel or confirm widespread doubts, we asked gynecologists Oksana Bogdashevskaya and Natalia Artikova if it was still possible to have sex during menstruation.
Does the risk of infection increase with contact during menstruation?
It is known that viruses, including HIV, can be present in any body fluid, including menstrual blood. During menstruation, there is a slight expansion of the lumen of the cervix, which is devoid of protective mucus rich in antibodies. This facilitates the penetration of pathogens into the woman's body, but does not mean at all that standard preventive measures will not be enough. According to Oksana Bogdashevskaya, in combination with an abundant nutrient medium in the form of menstrual flow, ideal conditions are created for ascending infections. This may well lead to the development of inflammatory diseases in the small pelvis and, in the future, cause tubo-peritoneal infertility.
Another gynecologist Natalya Artikova believes that the risk of infections is relevant primarily when contacts with new partners (and then it is imperative to use condoms). If your partner went through fire, water and copper pipes with you (translated into gynecological language, "stable and constant"), then the question of possible inflammatory diseases of the pelvic organs is not urgent. The vaginal environment becomes more acidic during menstruation, and this could theoretically promote the growth of fungi that cause candidiasis. However, there is currently no evidence of any increased risk of thrush associated with menstrual sex. Of course, one shouldn't forget about individual risk factors. If you are not completely healthy, then the possibility of the onset and exacerbation of chronic infections is not excluded, so consult a gynecologist you trust.
Is it true that libido decreases during menstruation?
Traditionally, it is believed that libido in women peaks during ovulation and decreases at the beginning of the menstrual cycle, when the likelihood of conception is minimal.Nevertheless, more and more research and poll data indicate that many women want intimacy during their periods. Perhaps these results are influenced by the fact that the very conversation about sex and menstruation is becoming less taboo. The flow of blood to the pelvic organs promotes rapid excitement, and the sensitivity of the uterus, which rejects the mucous membrane, promotes powerful orgasms. The effect of social and medical factors can also be noted. For example, against the background of hormonal contraception, ovulation and menstruation are absent, mood swings and libido are smoothed out, so the desire for sex during withdrawal bleeding may be the same as on other days.
As for the aids, with the onset of menstruation, no special conditions arise either. Moreover, if on other days of the cycle you cannot do without lubricant, it is quite possible that you will not need it during your period. If such a need remains, choose a lubricant that you like best. In his research, writer and sex educator Corey Silverberg found that during menstruation (as always) it is best to use water-based or silicone-based lubricants, depending on personal preference: silicone does not dry out longer, but water is on friendly terms with silicone sex -toys.
Is it possible not to be afraid of getting pregnant
In the early days of the menstrual cycle, the likelihood of pregnancy is reduced to a minimum. Of course, this is not a reason to give up a condom - except perhaps a reason not to worry that it will break. Although the calendar method of contraception is recognized as one of the least reliable (Pearl index from 9 to 40, according to various studies), for many couples who continue to use it, menstruation is the period of the least risk, and therefore the greatest pleasure.
Nevertheless, it should be remembered that pregnancy after unprotected sex during menstruation is not uncommon, especially if contact occurs on the fourth or fifth day of a shortened (21-26 days) cycle. The menstrual cycle is not always stable: with a constant long 28-30 days, with ovulation on the 12-14th day, sex during menstruation is safe, but with a short cycle (21-26 days) ovulation can occur soon after menstruation, and sperm quite capable of waiting for an egg for three to five days.
Can sex relieve menstrual pain or make periods shorter?
Light exercise, combined with oxytocin and endorphins released during orgasm, can relieve stomach pain, ease headache, and improve mood. The same effect can be achieved by training at low to moderate intensity (banning exercise during your period is another popular myth). Sex helps relieve pain through three mechanisms: muscle contraction and relaxation, the production of joy hormones, and excitement and pleasurable emotions to help you get away from suffering. According to the available data, at the time of orgasm, the perception of pain in women was reduced by 75%.
Dr. Artikova argues that sex during menstruation is beneficial for women with heavy bleeding; oxytocin (a hormone of pleasure) increases the contractions of the smooth muscles of the uterus, as a result of which its mucous membrane is rejected faster, and the duration of menstruation can be shortened. According to a study conducted by the University of Athens, more than half of women in the premenopausal period had excessive bleeding; however, 83% of them confirmed that they had sex during their period. Although, according to scientists, excess bleeding was primarily due to hormonal factors - it is possible that sex also played a role.
On the other hand, due to the frequent and strong contractions during orgasm, the uterus is able to reject the mucous membrane faster, which means that the number of days of menstruation may decrease.There is an opinion that sex during menstruation is associated with the development of endometriosis, but it is not entirely justified. According to Dr. Bogdashevskaya, there is currently no answer to the question of whether sexual contacts or orgasm can cause retrograde blood flow (it gets from the fallopian tubes into the abdominal cavity), one of the recognized mechanisms for the development of endometriosis. There is even evidence that having sex during your period reduces the risk of this disease.
How to find a compromise with a partner
Women in same-sex couples have less reason to be biased about their periods. When it comes to having sex with men, girls often think that menstruation can alienate their partner. And in vain: from a survey on the Reddit site it follows that for most men, there is nothing special about their periods. Many people note that they do not prefer sex during menstruation to sex on other days, but they also do not consider it to be something repulsive. Several respondents answered that they did not see this as a problem, unlike their girls, and only one wrote that he did not tolerate the sight of blood - and connects this with an incident in childhood when he was almost left without a finger. Be that as it may, sex is a pleasure for both partners, regardless of gender: give up intimacy if one of you does not want it or is uncomfortable.
Another argument against menstruating sex is the prospect of getting dirty, but the practical inconveniences can be avoided by thinking about them in advance. Have sex in the shower, not on a beige textile couch. Lay dark bedding, prepare wet wipes. In addition, sex does not have to be penetrating: external stimulation can be dispensed with without removing the tampon. And most importantly, don't forget about mutual agreement.
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