As a many-year-menstruator, you may have a period routine down: Start the week feeling moody, bloated, and crampy. Grab your period kit full of natural pain relievers — a heating pad, magnesium, and CBD suppositories. Then, shoot your partner a glare from across the room that says, “DON’T COME NEAR ME.” 

The minute they see the period kit, your partner knows to keep their hands to themself… but what if I told you a little physical interaction might actually make your period better? In this article, we share how period sex helps relieve cramps and boost your mood. Find out why that time of the month doesn’t have to be off-limits.

woman suffering from period cramps

The science behind period pain

Dysmenorrhea, or pain associated with menstrual bleeding, affects over half of women who get a period. It’s most likely to occur in the first two days of your period when bleeding is heaviest. 

The uterine lining, which is shed during your period, contains prostaglandins. These hormone-like compounds increase blood flow to the uterus and cause cramping. Pain is typically worse early in your period when prostaglandin levels are higher. As the uterine lining sheds, the pain subsides.

Period pain is so normalized in the world of women’s health that it’s hard to know what's truly “normal.” If you have intense or unrelenting pain that lasts longer than a few days, bring it up to your OB/GYN. It could be related to an underlying condition that needs to be addressed. Potential causes of period pain include: IUDs, endometriosis, fibroids, adenomyosis, heavy menstrual flow, and even scarring from a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

couple cuddling in bed

How sex can help with period pain

Period pain usually falls somewhere between “normal” and doubled over on the couch. (If doubled over on the couch IS your normal pain level, see above about talking to your OB/GYN.) For typical period pain, relief usually involves a mix of treating the cause and managing symptoms. 

You might be able to reduce cramps with natural remedies like magnesium glycinate and raspberry leaf tea. If they don’t do the trick, healthcare providers usually recommend over-the-counter pain relievers like Ibuprofen for cramps.

Period sex can help treat the cause and the symptoms of period pain — if you achieve an orgasm. Here’s how it works:

  • Reduced cramps. Orgasms cause uterine contractions, which expel blood. The more blood is released, the more your body can clear those prostaglandins responsible for cramping. 

  • Natural pain relief. During an orgasm, endorphins are released. The “happiness hormones” dopamine and serotonin act as natural painkillers and mood boosters. 

  • Shorter periods. Some people believe that sex can make your period end sooner thanks to uterine contractions (and blood release) during an orgasm. 

The deal with period sex

If you’re still unsure about lifting the hands-off rule during your period, you’re not alone. In one study, about 40% of women said they’d never try menstrual sex. There’s a lot of stigma around it, so let’s address some objections about period sex.

Objection: It isn’t safe. 

Reality: There’s no evidence that you can’t have sex on your period. Just remember to use protection, because there’s still a chance you could get pregnant or spread an STI. Your chances of getting a yeast infection are higher during menstruation due to hormonal changes, so remember to practice good hygiene after sex. 

Objection: It’s messy.

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Reality: Yes, period sex can get messy, so it’s ultimately up to you and your partner’s comfort levels to decide if you’re ready. For a cleaner session, consider moving things to the shower or throwing a towel down wherever you go.

Objection: I won’t like it.

Reality: Many women find sex more enjoyable during menstruation due to changing hormones that increase libido and sensitivity. Menstrual blood is also a natural lubricant, making for a smoother ride.

woman holding menstrual pads

Getting to the bottom of period pain

It’s worth noting that one of the most common causes of intense period pain is endometriosis, which is notorious for also causing painful sex. If you think you might have endometriosis, period sex may not be the answer to pain relief. Talk to your OB/GYN about pain control and working toward a diagnosis.

No matter how “normal” your period cramps are, listen to your body and always advocate for yourself if something doesn’t seem right. If you’re ready to give period sex a try, have at it! Share your experience and get more period hacks in the Rescripted Community.

Alexa Davidson is a registered nurse and freelance health writer. She’s written for various women’s health companies, covering topics like natural hormone balance, fertility, and disease prevention. On her own fertility journey, Alexa has experienced profound loss and is passionate about supporting others with similar experiences. When she’s not researching or writing, Alexa can be found in the kitchen, where her specialty is making healthy versions of comfort foods. Nashville Hot Tofu, anyone?