How To Properly Clean Your Vagina After Period Sex, To Avoid Any Discomfort

How do you feel about period sex? Too taboo? To embarrassing? Too messy? Well, I'm here to make a declaration: Period sex is not only OK, but it's awesome and absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Yep, I said it and I stand by it. The only thing really different about having sex when you're on your period compared to the rest of the month is that it may require a little more cleanup than usual. That includes knowing how to properly clean your vagina after period sex — or so I thought. To find out the best method, I reached out to the experts for advice, and what they had to say surprised me.

The best way to tidy up your vagina after period sex — or any sex — is ... not to. That's because, as Lindsay Wynn, vaginal health and wellness expert tells Elite Daily, "Our vagina technically refers to your vaginal opening, not your vulva, labia, etc. Really, there's no need to specifically clean your vagina. As some people know — your vagina is self cleaning, using soap or douching is actually counterproductive."

So, if you aren’t cleaning your vagina after sex, what should you do? Dr. Arlen Crocker-McClellan, founder of Women's Health Hotline, tells Elite Daily that it's fine to concentrate on everything else. "Menstrual blood is a natural occurring fluid in vaginas (it flows through every month!), so there is no reason you'd need to clean your vagina after engaging in period sex," she explains. "With that being said, period sex can get a little messy depending on the heaviness of your flow, so cleaning the vulva (let's be honest and your butt and legs) afterwards is a great idea."

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Dr. Jess O’Reilly, host of the @SexWithDrJess podcast, tells Elite Daily you can really just hop in the shower after period sex. “You can clean your vulva (the area on the outside) using water and your fingers. Do not spray water inside of the vagina — just gently clean the outer area (lips)," she cautions. "If you want to use soap, use a mild, unscented version.” However, if showering isn’t an option, having some wipes handy is a great option too. “Use a gentle wipe like SweetSpot Labs’ unscented option,” advises Dr. O’Reilly.

Still feeling nervous about having sex while menstruating? The experts say it’s not only no big deal, but actually has some major health benefits for you. “Period sex is amazing! It can reduce cramping, alleviate migraines, and boost your mood,” Dr. Crocker-McClellan says. There is no reason to be ashamed of period sex, adds Lindsay Wynn, vaginal health and wellness expert. “It’s not dirty!" she ensures Elite Daily. “Period sex can be absolutely wonderful and that orgasm can help release pain from cramping," Wynn adds. "Sensation may be enhanced due to sensitivity. Also, listen to your body! Whether you are masturbating or having partnered sex, explore what feels good and different while menstruating. Tell your partner and be proud! Menstruation is not anything to be ashamed of. Depending on where you are within your cycle, you may experience heightened arousal.”

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“The largest roadblock to period sex seems to be the person who has their period,” says Dr. Crocker-McClellan. “Who wants to make a mess, am I right? But actually most women bleed an average of 60 ml during their flow, which is about equal to a shot glass. Throwing down a dark towel or using a flexible menstrual cup like SoftCup or Flex can help contain some of the blood,” she says

Dr. O’Reilly seconds the use of a menstrual cup if you want to avoid any mess. “If you want to reduce the flow during period sex, consider using a SoftCup which sits around your cervix,” she says. “You can buy them at any drug store and your partner shouldn’t be able to feel it during most types of sex. You can also use a period cup during sex, but some people report that the lower part can be felt during sex; it’s not painful or uncomfortable in most cases — just communicate with your partner about what you’re using and encourage them to communicate what they’re feeling as well."

Dr. Jen Gunter, a San-Francisco-based OBGYN, told Women's Health that a disposable menstrual cup like SoftCup should be your go-to during sex, too. Reusable cups are thicker, and so, can be uncomfortable during sex, but Saran wrap-like cups like SoftCup move with, not against, your body, Women's Health reports.

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Period sex is nothing to be ashamed of, especially when you consider what Lindsay Wynn, vaginal health and wellness expert, tells Elite Daily. “Semen is a bodily fluid too, so don’t feel shame for getting messy before or during sex.” Word.

While period sex is something you can (and should) feel free to enjoy, the experts do offer one serious warning. “You could still get pregnant," Dr. Kristin Yates, of Garrison Women’s Health tells Elite Daily. "While having sex during your period is often considered a 'safe' time for intercourse, if you are not using reliable contraception then pregnancy is still possible." Having sex on our your period is not a form of contraception, as Dr. Crocker-MClellan further explains. “Although uncommon, it is possible to become pregnant during your period, particularly if you have an irregular period. This is because with an irregular period your ovulation date is variable and inconsistent. So, play it safe and use a barrier method or other birth control method that suits your lifestyle and needs,” she suggests.

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So, the next time you're on your period and you and your partner are in the mood, go for it! It may mean a little more cleanup afterward, but so long as you use your preferred form of protection, all you need is water, mild soap, or wet wipes. A SoftCup and/or a laid-down towel can both be helpful in reducing any sort of "mess." Chances are you’ll find that period sex is not only no big deal, but pretty freaking awesome.