Andrei Cazan

SEX DURING MENSTRUATION

Introduction
Sex during menstruation, more commonly known as period sex, simply refers to engaging in sexual intercourse while the woman is menstruating. While menstruation is a normal, developmental event that symbolizes an adolescent’s transition to womanhood, it is often associated with a variety of negative sentiments such as taboo, shame, and discomfort (Hensel et. al, 2007). As a result, research shows that sex does decrease during menstruation (Hensel et al., 2007). However, the decision to so is entirely up to the couple. The woman may feel unattractive, unwanted, or simply unclean, while the partner just isn’t comfortable with getting intimate during menstruation. That’s where sexual communication becomes so important when deciding what to do about sexual intercourse during the menstrual cycle.
Since menstruation usually occurs every month for 3 to 5 days from the onset of puberty until menopause (Wikipedia, 2011), it can be very difficult for both partners to refrain from being intimate every month for up to a week. Through effective sexual communication partners can choose to have sex during “that time of the month”, which can actually have some real health benefits (Everyday Health, 2009).
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MYTH: You can't get pregnant while on your period

Benefits
The most obvious benefit is just the satisfaction of engaging in sexual intercourse. By fulfilling the crave for sex and reaching an orgasm, both sex partners are in an elevated state of happiness. Through simply communicating about sexual needs and negotiating intimacy during the menstruation, both partners can benefit from the outcome. Furthermore, many women find that having sex actually helps with cramps and abdominal pain experienced during menstruation (LifeMojo, 2011). During orgasm, the brain releases endorphins, which are generally considered to be mood lifters and natural painkillers. They can get rid of cramps, headaches, mild depression, and irritability associated with periods, and the pleasure from orgasm can reduce the effect of menstrual pain and irritation (LifeMojo, 2011). Sex during menstruation can also reduce the number of days the woman has her period. The period is still considered normal and healthy, but the added number of contractions the uterus experiences from the orgasm can help shed menstrual blood faster, thus ending the cycle sooner (Everyday Health, 2009).
Safety
One of the concerns people have with having sex during menstruation is safety. Sexual intercourse during this period is actually very normal and completely healthy. This common misconception can be blamed on social stigmas about menstrual blood. Girls are taught at a young age that the menstrual blood is dirty and should be contained (Epigee, 2009). The menstrual blood is actually a very natural bodily fluid that will not cause any injury or irritation to the penis or uterus when it comes in contact with it. (Healthcare Magic, 2010) There is no more of a health risk to have sex during menstruation than any other time. The only health concern that may arise is the increased chance of spreading a sexually transmitted disease to the partner if the sex is unprotected. The likelihood of an HIV-infected woman passing the infection to the partner is higher during menstruation, while the woman also has a higher risk of contracting an infection from her partner (Healthcare Magic, 2010). This is simply because sexually transmitted diseases are spread through the transfer of bodily fluids, with menstrual blood being the extra factor in this case. The importance of sexual communication is essential to safe sex practice and sex during menstruation is no exception to that rule.
Cleanliness
A big reason why period sex is so frowned upon is because of the fact that it can be quite “messy”. Depending on the amount of bleeding and the stage of the menstrual cycle, there are ways to keep the intercourse rather clean and free of blood. Most couples that enjoy sex during menstruation are actually prepared with a towel on the bed to absorb the blood. The woman can also be positioned to reduce the amount of bleeding by lying on her back (Everyday Health, 2009). The woman can even wear a diaphragm or cervical cap during the sexual intercourse, which will contain the menstrual fluid by covering the cervix (Epigee, 2009). A more common method is simply having sex in the shower. Studies show that having sexual intercourse during menstruation in the shower makes both partners feel a lot more comfortable about the act (Everyday Health, 2009). Whichever method might be used to keep the experience as clean as possible, the main thing is once again, for the partners to openly communicate about how they will engage in the sexual intercourse. If they don’t discuss how they truly feel about the act and how to approach the situation, more than likely one or both of the partners will be uncomfortable, resulting in a unpleasant and undesirable experience.
Myths & Taboos
Perhaps the most common misconception is that a woman cannot get pregnant while she’s on her period. While the risk is extremely low and rarely occurs, there is still a possibility that she will become pregnant. Women can also mistake slight bleeding that happens with ovulation for their period, which greatly increases the chance of her getting pregnant (Epigee, 2009). However, if couples engage in unprotected sex anyway, this is the best time of the month to do it (Everyday Health, 2009). Otherwise, the same kind of protection should be used as always to avoid the risk of pregnancy and contracting a sexually transmitted disease.
Social taboos have had a great impact on society’s views on sex during menstruation. While different cultures view menstruation differently, research shows that the majority of girls in the United States believe they shouldn’t talk to boys about it and a third don’t think they should discuss it with their fathers (Wikipedia, 2011). The Bible itself regards the menstruating woman as unclean, claiming “anyone who touches her will be unclean until evening” in the fifteenth chapter of Leviticus (Wikipedia, 2011). Not only is the woman condemned, but anyone that comes in contact with her will be affected. These menstrual taboos, along with the one mentioned earlier regarding menstrual blood, have certainly influenced society’s beliefs on having sex during menstruation. From a health point of view, the act is perfectly healthy and can actually help with the woman’s pain during her period. The crucial element in this case is sexual communication between the partners. They are the ones who will decide how comfortable the experience will be. On the other hand, they can establish ground rules that do not involve sexual intercourse at all during menstruation. As long as both partners feel comfortable with their decision, both should benefit from the outcome.
no_sex.jpg
What’s worse; bad sex, or no sex at all?


References
Hensel, D., Fortenberry, J.D., & Orr, D. (2007). Situational and relational factors associated with coitus during vaginal bleeding among adolescent women. Journal of Sex Research, 44(3), 269-277.

Menstrual taboo. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved April 10, 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Menstrual_taboo

Menstruation. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved April 10, 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Menstruation

Rodriguez, D. A. (2009). Having sex during your period. Everyday Health. Retrieved from http://www.everydayhealth.com/sexual-health/sex-during-your-period.aspx

Unknown. (2009). Having sex during your period: Q&A. Epigee. Retrieved from http://www.epigee.org/menstruation/sex.html

Unknown. (2009). Sex during menstruation. Healthcare Magic. Retrieved from http://www.healthcaremagic.com/articles/Sex-during-menstruation/7408

Unknown. (Unknown). MYTH: You can't get pregnant during your period [Photograph]. Retrieved from http://www.health-family.info/showthread.php/196-Top-10-Myths-About-Safe-Sex-and-Sexual-Health

Unknown. (Unknown). What’s worse; bad sex, or no sex at all? [Photograph]. Retrieved from http://www.sodahead.com/living/whats-worse-bad-sex-or-no-sex-at-all/question-1173689/?page=11&link=ibaf&imgurl=http://www.fashion-lifestyle.net/images/broi13/01_PolISemeistvo.jpg&q=bad%2Bsex