June 16, 2008

Q&A: Sex During Your Period And Increased Bleeding

Dr. Debby Herbenick answers a question from a reader about sex during menstruation and the possibility of vaginal intercourse causing more bleeding.

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Question: Does having sex while you’re on your period make you bleed more?

No, although it may seem like it.

Here’s why: Menstruation occurs when a woman’s body breaks down and releases parts of the endometrial lining – which is the lining of a woman’s uterus – that has built up during the previous weeks. This includes both blood and tissue.

Since that is what is being released, sexual activity won’t “create” any new tissue to be released and it therefore won’t make a woman bleed more during those few days of her period.

Blood Or Tissue Released All At Once

That said, various factors related to sexual activity that a woman experiences by herself or with a partner may cause more blood or tissue to be released all at once, or may give her the perception that her period is heavier than usual (even if it really isn’t).

For example, sexual activity that is arousing or orgasmic and therefore involves contractions of a woman’s uterus may cause more menstrual blood or tissue release at once.

Sexual activity that includes penile thrusting close to the cervix (which is the opening to the uterus) might cause more menstrual blood or tissue to release at that time as well. Some women can feel this pressure on their cervix and may find it pleasurable, whereas others feel that it is painful.

Other Fluids Involved In Sex

In addition, the fluids that are involved in sex can be tinged with blood as it flows out of a woman’s body. These fluids include vaginal lubrication, store-bought lubricant, the lubricant from a condom, semen if no condom was used, and such.

That might make it look as though a woman is having a heavier period, even though she isn’t really bleeding any more than usual.

Relief of Menstrual Cramping

On the plus side, women sometimes find that sexual activity, either during self-masturbation or with a partner, can help to relieve menstrual cramping.

The bottom line is that the total amount of blood/tissue over several days isn’t changing, but some women might find the timing or appearance of one’s bleeding makes it seem as though that’s the case.

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