Can You Bang Away Menstrual Pain? A Sex Therapist Answers Our Period Sex Questions (Exclusive)

"By promoting understanding, acceptance, and inclusivity, we can work towards creating a more supportive and stigma-free environment for menstruating individuals," Dr. Juliana Hauser tells Green Matters.

Bianca Piazza - Author

Mar. 13 2024, Published 11:47 a.m. ET

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The uneasy familiarity of experiencing a crime scene unfold in your pants, of sudden pangs as your uterus wrings itself out, of feeling like your body is punishing you for not gifting it offspring — period cramps are a real bitch. When ibuprofen fails to relieve you of inconceivable agony, some say a bit of fun between the sheets — aka period sex — can help ease cramps.

Can sexual pleasure and a mind-blowing orgasm really cure pains associated with violent uterine contractions? According to sex therapist Dr. Juliana Hauser, PhD, the answer is yes, yes, OH YES!

"Some women have reported having relief from period cramps from sex, especially if pleasure is present and specifically if orgasm has occurred," the sexpert — who works with sexual wellness and menopause care brand Kindra — exclusively tells Green Matters in an e-interview.

Headshot of sex therapist Dr. Juliana Hauser
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Dr. Juliana Hauser, PhD

And though Dr. Hauser says there's not much research "to definitively back the anecdotal information given by women," there are theories that many people agree on.

The media has seen films like Fair Play and Saltburn shine a light on period sex, and we wanted to give people more of a reason to explore this stigma-ridden and perfectly natural avenue of sex.

Why does sex help alleviate period cramps? Dr. Juliana Hauser says it may have to do with endorphins.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, the brain produces endorphins, which can help the body with pain and stress management and boost our mood. Pleasurable activities can lead to the release of these chemicals.

In relation to period cramps, Dr. Hauser relays that the release of endorphins during sexual pleasure "may provide natural temporary relief." After all, they are the body's natural painkillers, as put by Dr. Hauser.

She adds that sexual arousal can lead to escalated blood flow. "There is a thought that this increased circulation may help relax the uterine muscles," she says.

And if a build up of sexual activity leads to an o-face, it may just help keep the menstrual cycle moving.

"Orgasm involves rhythmic contractions of pelvic floor muscles that can help remove some menstrual blood in a more efficient and speedy manner and could have a slight impact on reducing cramping because it could change the shedding pain of the uterine lining," Dr. Hauser explains. Consider it a natural remedy.

Can sex delay or influence a menstrual cycle?

Just like the mystical nature of the lunar rhythm, the powers of sex can influence a menstrual cycle. According to Dr. Hauser, menstruating individuals have reported that engaging in sex close to their period start date triggers an early arrival.

Hertility scientific research and communications associate Zoya Ali touched on this in conversation with Stylist.

“Right before your period, your hormone levels drop to signal to your body that your period is due imminently. Sex at this point in your cycle can sometimes make your period come earlier if it results in orgasm, as this can make your uterus contract,” Ali said.

Conversely, Dr. Hauser says that some people report sex delaying the arrival or duration of their periods.

"More commonly, women report that having sex during the final days of a menstrual cycle may shorten the cycle by a day or two," she explains. "This is also connected to the release of endorphins, as well as oxytocin, increased blood flow, and orgasmic contractions that "relate to the shedding of the uterine lining and pelvic floor muscles," she continues.

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And though period sex can be a beautiful thing, Dr. Hauser warns that some studies find it can present a minor increased risk of infection, "due to changes in vaginal pH and the presence of menstrual blood." She advises that individuals prone to irritation or infections down there may want to abstain from sex during menstruation.

While cervix and pH changes can make the menstruating individual vulnerable to bacterial and viral infections, there's also a larger risk of STI transmission for both partners, as per Verywell Health. Why? It's simply because viruses including HIV and hepatitis are present in blood.

Though we don't think it needs to be said, safe sex is sexy.

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