Seeing red

There is nothing wrong with period sex.
There is also nothing wrong with not having period sex.

It’s something I’ve been thinking about, along with where my ibuprofen and multipack of super-long towels are. Like everything else in the great world of sex and sexuality, attitudes to it vary. What initially bothered me was having read another blogpost the gist of which was “just get over it”. To me, that seems like men telling women to just get over their aversion to swallowing. Some of us will anyway, some of us will if we’re in the right mood, and for some it’s an absolute no-go.

I’m all for period sex given the right conditions. The first couple of days of mine are Niagara Falls-like in volume and quite painful. My hormones have me feeling all earthy and and horny as hell just before, but the moment the thing actually starts the cramps kick in, my hips feel like they’re screwed on wrong, and my cervix becomes more sensitive than a UKIP candidate surrounded by Guardian-reading Green voters (very local, very topical ref. Sorry). It’s my cervix that puts the kibosh on penetrative activity at the very least. I can vouch for masturbation’s effectiveness in easing womb and stomach muscle cramps, and helping me forget about the reverse-rack feeling in my hips, but when your insides are so tender and distended that you have to forego using a menstrual cup or even *very carefully inserted* tampon in favour of Princess and the Pea levels of padding, it can put a damper on things. That degree of agony is unusual and debilitating, and fortunately doesn’t happen that often, but it’s always uncomfortable enough that I’d rather back off. A few times I’ve used a vibrator on low – me, a power queen! – but the sensation isn’t strong enough to outweigh the discomfort, and no matter how into it the rest of me seems to be as a result of the hormones and considerate lower back rubs, I suspect the sight of me trying not to wince or flinch pre-thrust isn’t the sort of feedback a partner would want.
Also, the mess.
I completely understand the instinctive “ewww” moment some – lots of – people have at the prospect of sex when the painters are in. For one thing, it may be extra natural lubrication, but it takes a determined and conscious effort to see it as simply a different colour lube than the standard variety, and that’s before considering the impact of seeing bits of your body start to look like they’re in a Hammer Horror film. Permit them a small freak-out if they need one.

Get me three or four days in, and it’s a completely different matter. The majority of the mess is done with, the pain’s all gone, and I’m physically up for whatever my mind and/or body decide is hot.
The wise do their best to understand, and educate about, the toll mental illness takes on sexuality; they get that while increasing numbers of people are interested in kink, it’s not for everyone; they encourage experimenting to find what works for us individually. Sex positivity is about accepting and embracing our own sexuality and not judging other people’s. If you have a toy collection that takes up your front room but can’t – or don’t want to – get any pleasure out of it a few days a month, that’s no one’s business but your own. Have at it. Or not.

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3 thoughts on “Seeing red

  1. I am glad I found this post. I spent two decades with someone who wouldn’t either do anything or accept anything from me when I had my period. It is still something that I expect a negative reaction about and am surprised when it isn’t. I haven’t had any negative experiences since I ended that relationship but I am still at the point that I tend to avoid making plans for my period days. :/ I need to sort myself out about that.

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    • It bugged me so much that so many people were talking about period sex like it was no big deal, like the way I felt was wrong. I had to say something about why I chose – *chose* – not to indulge. I knew I wouldn’t be alone, and I wanted the less fortunate among us to be represented too.
      Since I wrote this this, however, my thyroid gland’s started to slow down. The first thing it affected – in fact the thing that got me making the appointment for tests with my GP – was my period. From being 31 days and like Niagara, my cycle started to shrink and the more frequent periods were increasingly light. When I wasn’t being hurled around by hormones that didn’t know if they were coming or going, it was a revelation. Being able to go out on day two of a period without packing several pads (and in the rough months, spare knickers), and to be able to venture away from places with toilets!
      There’s still pain, but to nowhere near the degree it was.

      For once my choice not to have sex wasn’t based on shame, but my thinking still stands. It’s a truly personal experience and therefore it’s a personal decision. Glad you’re in a place now where you get to make that decision; there’s no rush on changing how you feel about it unless you want there to be.

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  2. Pingback: A hormonal rollercoaster | The Shingle Beach

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