Period sex might not be for everyone.
In fact a recent survey has revealed that only 15% of respondents have sex during menstruation, and almost half (49%) reported avoiding any and all genital sexual activity while aunt flo is paying a visit.
Aside from that being a bit of a shame, considering there are some pretty compelling reasons you should totally be having period sex, there’s a more concerning trend uncovered by the survey – the fact that people are ditching the condoms if they do have sex during their period.
Clue and The Kinsey Institute quizzed 95,000 people from around the world, and found that use of condoms declines 15% during menstruation.
Of those who aren’t using condoms during periods, almost a third (30%) said they weren’t worried about the risk of pregnancy because of their cycle, and one in three said they were ‘unconcerned’ about catching an STI.
But period blood isn’t a form of contraception, nor does it protect you from STIs.
In fact, rates of STI transmission and acquisition are higher at certain times of the menstrual cycle, including during menstruation, which means there could be an increased risk of contracting an STI during period sex.
“This finding is significant and concerning, because rates of STI transmission and acquisition are higher at certain times of the menstrual cycle, including during menstruation,” a spokesperson from Clue explains.
“During certain times of your cycle, including your period, the changes in your immune function and vaginal environment may make it more likely you’ll contract an STI/HIV if you’re exposed.”
And it is totally possible to get pregnant while you’re on your period too, admittedly, though, it is less likely that usual.
“If a woman has sex without using contraception, she can conceive at any time during her menstrual cycle, even during or just after her period,” explains Dr Virginia Beckett, spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG).
“There is no completely ‘safe’ time of the month to have sex without contraception, however, there are periods during a woman’s menstrual cycle when she is more fertile – usually between days 12 – 16 of the cycle.”
But you can get pregnant if you have sex at any point during the week before ovulation, as sperm can live inside a woman’s body for up to seven days.
Plus according to Clue, your fertile window – the time in your cycle when it’s possible to become pregnant – is dependent on a number of environmental and physiological factors, so it is possible for conception to occur if you have unprotected sex during your period.
And the risk is greater for those with shorter or irregular cycles or those who ovulate early in your cycle because your fertile window can overlap with your period.
“Sperm can survive in the body for up to seven days after intercourse, so it is possible for a woman to get to get pregnant soon after her period finishes if she ovulates early, especially if she has a naturally short menstrual cycle, has longer periods or experiences some breakthrough bleeding,” explains Dr Beckett.
“Women who are not planning a pregnancy should always use contraception, regardless of the time of the month.”
Some people also experience bleeding outside of their period. “If you have an irregularly long cycle and you’re expecting your period, be aware of ovulation spotting, and other causes of spotting, so you don’t mistake it for a period while having unprotected sex,” Clue advises.
That’s something echoed by Mrs Pradnya Pisal, consultant gynaecologist at www.london-gynaecology.com.
“Sometimes what appears to be a period may be abnormal or breakthrough bleeding and hence just going by the signs of bleeding is not a good idea to avoid pregnancy,” she warns.
Speaking about the findings, William L. Yarber, Senior Scientist at The Kinsey Institute told Metro: “The significantly lower rate of condom use during periods is concerning. Risk for transmission of HIV and other STIs is higher at certain points of the menstrual cycle, including during the menstrual period.”
“Some people erroneously think of the menstrual period as a safe time to have sex because pregnancy is less likely. However, there is still some risk of getting pregnant during menses,” he continued.
“People need to be educated about the importance of condom use at all times for STI prevention. This is especially true if the menstruating partner is HIV positive.”
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