Parting The Red Sea: Why It's About Time We Talk About Period Sex

Whether it's happened accidentally or your libido just couldn't wait a week, lots of us have had experience with period sex.

Recently, a female friend of mine who'd been a staunch disbeliever in the act had a revelation after she tried it for the first time: "It was so weird, but not as bad as I thought. I just didn't want to get it on the bed. Also, it eased the cramps like big time."

"I wasn't a huge fan," said another female friend, whose actual experience with it, unlike the previous, didn't change her mind. "Like, the dude was cool with it so I was fine, but it just felt kinda yuck. Seeing my blood on his junk was some creepy horror movie sh*t."

"Can't say I've ever done (or would ever do) it with like a casual hookup, but for a real relationship? No problem," replied another. "There's just something weirdly intimate about it, I think.

When you become close enough to someone, to not have sex just because of something as mundane as a period, just seems stupid. It's almost like you're too attracted to each other to even give a sh*t about stuff like that."

Her long distance relationship likely plays a huge part in her opinion on period sex: "When you may only see the person like twice a month, chances are I'm gonna be on my period. I'll be damned if that actually stops me from getting laid."

If you've never parted the Red Sea like these ladies, perhaps you're dying to try, or perhaps you're firmly against it.

Everyone seems to have some kind of opinion on it, but the aversions are certainly understandable: Sex already consists of heavy exchanges of bodily fluids, so adding another (and what would probably be the most potent) to the mix might seem intimidating, especially for someone who's never been forced to come face-to-face with it in a hasty circumstance -- like, for example, a long-distance relationship.

Despite the potential of messy sheets, stained clothing and general ick factor, there's a surprising number of positive effects of period sex.

Period sex makes your menstruation cycle end quicker, and the hormones released during sex (like oxytocin) relieve your body of cramps and your mood swings and irritability associated with PMS.

And, during the beginning few days of your cycle, you're even friskier than normal, which improves any kind of sexual experience.

Period blood even makes great lubricant during sex, says Kellie Flood-Shaffer, MD, associate professor and division director of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.

It can, however, get sloppy, so just lay a towel down underneath your bodies or take a shower after for a quick clean up.

Dr. Flood-Shaffer says,

Personal comfort with sex during menstruation is both a male and female issue, as many women are taught that they are 'dirty' during that time, and many men are taught that menstrual blood can be 'dangerous' to their prowess — neither of which has any scientific basis, but cultural taboos can be very strong and are important.

Unfortunately, you're more susceptible to STIs while on your period -- your cervix expands more than usual to allow blood to flow, which creates an easier pathway for viruses and bacteria to enter the body -- so it's especially crucial for your guy to wear a condom if you engage in period sex.

Although it's pretty rare, you can still get pregnant while having sex on your period.

But, hey, don't let that stop you.

"I didn't really notice much of a difference," said a male friend about his experience with period sex.

He emphasized that he isn't one to "go out searching for menstruating women like some grizzly bear," but he didn't seem to mind it in general. "It's not like she was heavy-flowing. I saw a little [blood], but she told me beforehand and it was no big deal."

Lots of guys I talked to didn't have strong opinions about period sex either as an act of repulsion or a beloved fetish.

Most of their opinions spanned the "uncertain of what to do here" spectrum, and the most uncertain of the lot arose from the instances where the women didn't adequately prepare them for what would come.

Like my one male friend, who said that he wasn't notified that the girl was on her period, so it came as a shock when he finally did realize ("It was not a red storm," he clarified).

He didn't stop having sex with her once he saw she was menstruating ("I'm not a douche,"), but if he'd known she'd had her period before they began, he said he wouldn't have done it.

"What if it's a now-or-never type deal?" I asked him, hoping that period blood wasn't necessarily the equivalent of permanent yellow police tape on a vagina. "Like, your long-distance girlfriend that you haven't seen in weeks and won't see again for a month?"

"Oh my God, yeah!" he replied.

"I have often referred to this night as 'The Massacre,'" begins a two-inch long text message from one of my closest guy friends about his dramatic encounter with the crimson tide. Adding,

I assumed my regular roles and positions. Nothing out of place. Just another night of lustful interaction. It lasted for hours, until our bodies gave out from exhaustion. When I woke up at the prime time of 2 pm, before I saw the extent of the crime scene, my eyes met hers, and she looked at me as to say, 'I'm sorry.' Perplexed, I surveyed my surroundings. Her white sheets looked like some angry modern painting with red splashed and smeared in all directions. No space was spared... She said she thought she was over her period... In the midst of the passion, I couldn't tell which fluids were which that night.

I stared at my phone, shocked, searching for words. "That's insane," I wrote back, reeling with the same kind of shame that girl definitely felt that night. "And you weren't grossed out?"

"Surprisingly, not at all," he said, much to my relief for the girl. "I felt too bad that she was so embarrassed. I didn't know [period sex] was a thing... I don't know if I'd do it knowingly, just because I cannot unsee the disaster it caused."

When it comes to successful period sex, preparedness -- for both the presence of a period and the amount of blood that might be seen -- is paramount. One particularly period-sex-positive guy told me that he doesn't understand why people find period sex gross at all, in any capacity.

In fact, he says, if you are "realistic and cognizant" about it, it would be "absurd" to think that it was any kind of big deal: "I don't see why the notion of menses getting on the shaft of your d*ck is so much more culturally onerous than the notion of semen being shot at your cervix.

It's not an open wound and it's not an indication of sickness or anything wrong. It poses no risks healthwise."

"I wouldn't force it if a partner was uncomfortable with the prospect, obviously," he continued. "But it doesn't ward me off." I told him he was a man among men, and I proceeded to give his phone number to every woman I know.