While everyone’s body is different, many will find the side-lying spooning position more comfortable for period sex. “Lying sideways lessens the depth of penetration, which may be uncomfortable as you get closer to your cervix,” says Sarah Melancon, PhD., Sociologist, Clinical Sexologist, and Sexuality and Relationships Expert for SexToyCollective.com. If you are wearing a menstrual cup, shallower penetration lessens the chance that the giver will knock against it.
It can also be less messy than other positions. “Imagine an open water bottle laying on its side,” says Melancon. “If it’s super full, some will spill out, but a significant portion will remain happily inside.” She also notes that spooning sex can feel intimate and snuggly. “Given that it’s common to feel more emotional on your period, the closeness may be an added benefit.”
Carol Queen, PhD, Good Vibrations Staff Sexologist, suggests a missionary position variant where the insertive (top) partner does not put their weight on the possibly already-sore pelvic area of the person on the bottom. Queen has seen this done with the top partner keeping more weight on their arms to prevent lying directly on their partner, and also a version where they kneel up and draw their partner’s pelvis closer—what some like to call the Rocking Horse Position.
“This is a position that allows for a fair amount of pelvic motion, even while the person on the bottom lies there,” says Queen.
“The insertive partner can thrust pretty hard from this position (or go way slower). The partner below can also thrust up if desired.” This position also allows plenty of space between the partners for clitoral stimulation, which is especially good for increasing orgasmic contractions and helping to reduce pain by up to 50% if you have cramps.
Slip Sliding Away
Standing positions can sometimes be uncomfortable for people with menstrual cramps, but not always. You might want to give it a go with something like the Ballerina Shower Sex position pictured above (bonus points for spicing it up with the Satisfyer Wand-er Woman.)
Still, relationship therapist, Megan Harrison, says shower sex is a great solution when you want to have period sex, but without the mess.
“The hot water can also help relax and soothe aching back cramps,” she says. If you plan to get frisky in the shower, she reminds that water isn’t a good lubricant, so be sure to have plenty of lube on hand.
The Shoulder Holder
The shoulder holder position is another one to put in your period sex playbook. In this penetrative position, the vulva-haver lies on their back, with legs straight up and over their partner’s shoulder. Since the vagina-haver is lying on their back, it eases the pelvic muscles and helps alleviate cramps.
When it comes to period sex positions, Amy Olson, sex expert at The Absolute Dater, is partial to the Betty Boop, a variation on the shoulder holder where the receptive partner crosses their legs over there partner's shoulders rather than holding them straight.
Lie on your back with a small pillow under your sacrum and lower back with an optional heating pad underneath you and a towel on top to protect the sheets and pillow, like in the Glowing Triangle pictured above.
“The pillow helps to support the lower back and relaxes the pelvic floor by helping to widen the sit bones,” says Megwyn White, Director of Education at Satisfyer. “The slight elevation offers an opportunity to accentuate stimulation of the G-spot with a penis or toy pulling out of the body. The receiver can also accentuate this by tilting the tailbone downward, which is supported by the pillow.”
Try Non-Penetrative Positions
A “position” that Helen Wyatt, ALMFT, Relationship and Sex Therapist for the Center for Mindful Living, deems essential to mention during period sex is non-penetrative sex.
“Often, the many ways people give and receive pleasure is equated only to vaginal penetration,” says Wyatt. “Maybe you try anal stimulation orally, with an anal toy, or a penis. Maybe you try masturbation partnered with body massage from your partner or mutual masturbation. Maybe you try oral or manual nipple stimulation while either partner also stimulates the clitoris.”
Wyatt points out that when pleasure in a low-pressure scenario is the focus, your body and brain can physiologically relax, leading to higher levels of arousal and a greater tendency to orgasm (which is a known remedy for cramping):
“A couple might find with non-penetrative sex that it makes them so comfortable, penetrative sex happens, and all of their inhibitions go out the window!”
Avoid What Makes You Uncomfortable
As for sexual positions, if you don't have a menstrual cup, St. John doesn’t recommend anything that allows blood to flow freely, like the cowgirl position during period sex.
“Basically, if you understand the idea of ‘free bleeding,’ any position that allows gravity to do its thing wouldn’t be ideal if you’re trying to minimize blood seepage,” says the Read Me: A Parental Primer for “The Talk” author.
“Using a menstrual cup certainly puts that position back on the menu, which is fantastic, especially if it’s your favorite.”
Queen finds that many of her clients tense up or get sidetracked worrying about the potential mess and have difficulty accessing pleasure. To lessen any worries about stained sheets, she recommends using a sex pad or blanket.
Even though St. John would love for everyone to be comfortable with menstrual blood, she knows that some folks are just averse to blood. “That’s OK,” she says. “It is fine to not want to have sex during menstruation if that’s not your thing.” Ditto for women who suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or endometriosis, for whom the menstrual cycles can be a major source of pain.
Like all matters related to sex, it’s your body, your choice. You should only do it if it’s consensual and feels OK.
Remember though: If you want to, there are ways to make period sex more pleasurable and less “messy," though I personally subscribe to the “It’s not fun until you make a mess” mindset. Put in a cup or throw down a pad, fuck to your heart’s content, and deal with clean up after you’ve come until the cramps don’t hurt. The hit of dopamine will make your uterus happy.