Period sex...some people love it, some folks hate it. In general, it has somewhat of a bad rep and carries a lot of stigma. What feels good in your body is always up to you, and I'm not here to try to change your mind. However, here are some suggestions that may be helpful as you tap into your own period pleasure. Whether you're quarantined alone (unless you're reading from the future—hi! Remember that time in the spring of 2020 when many of us stayed home in the face of a global pandemic?) or just want to experiment with period pleasure on your own before sharing it with a pal (or two, or a bunch!), this piece focuses on pleasure you can offer yourself as you bleed.
Get messy...or minimize it.
The thing that some of us get turned off by when it comes to sex + menstruation is, well, all the blood. You've got a few options here. You can lean into the mess, or minimize it. If you're not sure what would feel good, or are just in the mood to switch things up, try both!
If you're leaning into all the bloody glory, take time to notice what the blood feels like between your fingers. Let it get all over your skin, your sheets, your toys if you're using them. Make the blood a part of your sexual experience.
If you're looking to sex up your bleed, but want to avoid the messiness, you've also got options. Consider pleasuring yourself with a menstrual cup or disc in, or use a vibrator over your undies. Put a condom on a vibrator or dildo, or stick to external toys that will give you lots of feels without getting very messy. Get busy in the bathtub, where the water will slow your flow (kind of, your bleed doesn't stop in water, but the counter pressure of the water often stops or slows your blood from leaving your body).
Feel into what feels good.
It's true of all kinds of sex, but especially period sex and masturbation that it's all about what feels good to you, just as you are in that moment. Take the pressure off. Go in without a plan. Just follow what feels good to you and see where it leads. You may or may not have an orgasm. You might go with your oldie but goodie positions, moves, or toys, or maybe you'll discover something completely new.
Kink is broad, and whether hearing the term feels intimidating or lights you up, period pleasure can be an opportunity to experiment and explore to find what kinks you enjoy. Many types of kink have to do with specific sensations and bleeding bodies are often more sensitive. Play to find what sensations feel good to you while you're menstruating. Does it feel good to be tied up, and if so, do you like the ropes to dig into your skin or do you prefer your bondage to feel like a firm, loving hug? To your comfort level, play with things like cold ice, warm wax, paddles, harnesses, clamps, or chains and notice what feels good. And if you don't have any kink gear on hand, get creative! There are lots of ways to DIY prickly, squeezing, spanky, and other kinky sensations. As you're exploring, do keep safety in mind, and if you aren't sure, seek out a sex or kink educator who can support you in safe and kinky period pleasure.
Be open to the "why" behind your period sex.
There are many reasons why we have sex, and many motivations for seeking period pleasure. Getting curious about your "why" may help you to engage in sex and pleasure that ultimately meets those goals and helps you feel how YOU want to feel. Perhaps you're after an orgasm or are just looking for a way to alleviate cramps. Maybe you want to connect to your body or something about the physical experience of menstruation turns you on. All of your "whys" are valid, and being open to them can help you maximize your period pleasure and create an experience that truly satisfies the needs and desires you're trying to meet.
In summary, period pleasure is all about you and your bleeding body. There are no rules, and there isn't actually one "normal." Whether you're into the blood, or are just in it for the pain relief, your bleed offers a unique opportunity to connect to your body and sexuality. Happy bleeding!
Beth Rich is a queer educator and full-spectrum cycle doula who works at the thresholds and intersections of menstruation, family-building, pregnancy, birth, loss, and other life transitions. They're a non-binary human who's excited to talk about bodies, periods, birth, and sex in language that holds space for all of us. Discover more of their work at thebethrich.com or on Instagram @thebethrich.