The Secrets Behind Period Sex

My head feels foggy, I feel sick yet want to eat everything in sight, any desire for sex is nowhere to be seen, my emotions are chaotic and what I want more than anything in the world is to curl up in a ball and sleep until the end of time. Before you ask-No I did not drink any alcohol last night! I am perfectly well and healthy but I am a woman and these experiences can be a somewhat common occurrence on the days leading up to my period. I see it as perfectly ok & as best as I can, will completely honour my need to rest and nourish my body. This has not always been the case.

Years ago, when I would experience pre-menstrual symptoms, I would have pushed through these feelings, expecting the same output of energy in order to get through my days. This ultimately resulted in some pretty awful consequences including lots of angry outbursts to the people around me and feeling completely exhausted.  My period pain would have remained with my hidden sex secrets.

Many women I speak with are unaware of the different phases that occur during their cycle. I believe this is such a shame as this knowledge can eradicate much of the confusion and emotional disturbances that are often experienced by women. Societies awareness of and openness with the menstruation cycle is significantly greater than previous generations yet I still see that there is a long way to come in terms of how we relate to this process that occurs monthly for most women.

The Menstrual Cycle Consists Of Four Distinct Phases:

Menstruation

Menstruation occurs when the broken-down lining of the uterus flows out through the vagina. Menstruation generally lasts from three to seven days. Some women regularly have periods that are shorter or longer than this. The length can also differ from one cycle to the next. In addition to blood, menstrual fluid is made up of several components including endometrial cells, cervical mucus and vaginal secretions. The amount of menstrual fluid lost varies between women and from one cycle to the next, but a woman generally loses about 50-100ml of fluid each time she has a period.

The Follicular Phase

During this phase, the pituitary gland releases follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which causes between 10 and 20 follicles (cells that contain immature eggs, known as ova) to begin developing in the ovary. They produce the hormone oestrogen, which causes the lining of the uterus (endometrium) to become thick in preparation for the possible embedding of a fertilised egg. Usually, only one follicle develops into a mature egg. This follicle moves towards the surface of the ovary, while the others break down and are reabsorbed by the body. The follicular phase begins on the first day of menstruation and ends with ovulation. It can vary considerably in length, depending on the time of ovulation.

Ovulation

The term ‘ovulation’ refers to the release of a mature egg from the ovary. During the follicular phase, the rise in a woman’s oestrogen levels causes gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) to be released from her brain. This in turn causes the pituitary gland to produce increased levels of luteinising hormone (LH). The abrupt rise in LH, known as the LH surge, triggers ovulation. Following ovulation, the egg is swept into the fallopian tube and moved along towards the uterus. If fertilisation does not occur, the egg disintegrates within 6-24 hours.

Luteal Phase

During this phase, the remnants of the follicle that released the egg (now called the corpus luteum) release large amounts of the hormone progesterone as well as some oestrogen. These hormones contribute to the further thickening and maintenance of the uterine lining. If fertilisation does not occur, the corpus luteum breaks down and progesterone levels decline, leading to the disintegration of the uterus lining. During the luteal phase, women may experience physical and emotional changes including tender or lumpy breasts, fluid retention, bloating, mood swings, tiredness or anxiety.

As you can see, the menstruation cycle is an extremely complex process, with a need for women to be respectful and understanding of their bodies for going through this every month.

Sexuality, sexual desire & relationships can be notably affected by the menstrual cycle, with women and their partners benefiting greatly from knowing where they are at in their cycle in order to have greater compassion and understanding of what is occurring for the woman (i.e. emotions, desires).  It doesn’t matter what feng shui sex secrets you may think you know it will not make a difference.

During a womans period, some people will choose to not be sexual with their partners for different reasons. Some may believe it to be unclean, others do not like the feeling of having sex when they may be experiencing an increase in pain or sensitivity.

Sex during menstruation is not unclean but can be messy if certain precautions are not taken. I would recommend getting outdoors or in the shower for some lovemaking during this monthly period if the mess part is an issue. Sex can be great for easing menstrual cramps, with many women even claiming they have the highest sex drive when they are bleeding. Everyone is unique and it is important for every woman to get to know her body and what it likes.

Intimacy does not need to cease just because intercourse may not be desired during menstruation. Connecting with your partner during this time may mean kissing, touching and massaging one another. Feel into what you or your partner’s body desires and communicate this clearly.

Be mindful that certain contact with the menstrual blood of a women period whose sexual health status is unknown increases the risk of sexually transmitted infection and blood-borne virus transmission- safety is paramount.

Menstruating And Sex
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Many women will report an increase in sexual desire after menstruation in the time leading up to ovulation. A perfectly easy way to understand the reason for this is that the days leading up to ovulation is when a woman is the most fertile-her body is made to want to conceive a baby hence orgasms are more easily attained, she may feel more extroverted and her desire for sex is high. Enjoy this time, however, know that the chance of conceiving a child is in this period is greatest. If a child is not on the cards for you & your partner, take precautions to minimise the chance of unwanted pregnancy.

After ovulation, there is a dip in sexual desire for many women & it is not uncommon for them to experience times of intense emotions and uncomfortable physical symptoms. Often this may mean that sex is the last thing on a woman’s mind. Women need to be kind & patient to themselves and should expect the same treatment from their partners. Instead of projecting emotion onto your partner, let them know what you’re feeling and take some time out for yourself if needed. Sex can be a great way to connect with your partner if the desire is there, just ensure that desire is there for both of you.

A woman becoming aware of her menstrual cycle can be a really great way of predicting best times to participate in certain activities (I personally would never participate in a marathon on the first day!!!) and gives her a chance to have a closer connection with her body and the incredible process it goes through every month. It’s also amazing for partners to understand what is happening to their woman as best as they can-this way, among other things, you’ll know when bringing home dark chocolate and red wine is going to be most appreciated!!

Author: Stephanie Curtis- BA Nursing

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