There’s Nothing Gross About Period Sex

Love and Sex

There’s Nothing Gross About Period Sex

Illustration: Akshita Monga

“Period sex is exactly like loving to eat shit,” a woman recently told me on Tinder. She was a biology graduate who went on to give me a life lesson on how menstrual blood is a body fluid that needs to be expelled from the body, and not played around with.

I probably should have unmatched with her that instant. Not because I enjoy being with menstruating women, but because her biology classes seemed to have made no dent in the prejudices she probably grew up with.  

I’ve loved having sex with women on their periods ever since my first girlfriend and I tried it five years ago, although none of my partners since has been as keen on it. And I’m reminded often that I’m a bit of an outlier. I’m intrigued when women tell me that they worry I’ll feel their vaginas are gross when it’s that time of the month. It isn’t just men – there’s plenty of self-loathing from women; all of us who have been socialised to believe that menstruation isn’t just a routine bodily function. It is a stigma.

Of course, it pales in comparison to reactions from my guy friends. A few weeks ago at a Colaba bar, a friend’s girlfriend arrived late, looking flustered, and announced she’d been buying tampons to deal with her heavy flow that day. She didn’t mumble. There was a chorus of “Grosss!” and “TMI!” before another guy made a “joke” about how some people weren’t getting any that night. Everyone laughed, including the girl who hadn’t mumbled.

It isn’t just men – there’s plenty of self-loathing from women; all of us who have been socialised to believe that menstruation isn’t just a routine bodily function. It is a stigma.

These are the same guys who used to terrorise girls in school when the back of their skirts got stained. In all likelihood, they’d probably cut me off if they knew I happen to actually enjoy period sex. These are men who think women should look like those in American Pie, and who stay strictly off-limits from below their girlfriends’ belt during that time of the month. Sometimes I wonder if our aversion to menstruation and period sex is just the sad inheritance of pop culture that glorifies the “repulsive” period, and is responsible for our twisted psyches?

Which is why, I feel a film like PadMan, whatever problems you might have with it, will strike some distance in normalising the conversation around periods. Women will not begin singing about their bodies overnight, but at least they won’t live in complete disgust of a routine bodily function.

Recently, I found my flatmates, Ayesha and Shreya, watching Broad City and laughing about Ilana’s “period pants” – bloodstained pants that help her sneak weed through an airport. They were both on board with the idea of how this kind of thing is a step toward normalising what women encounter every month.

However, it might take a few episodes of the show to help them overcome the idea of period sex. Especially when so many of their flings have always been disgusted by the idea. Even though, women’s bodies might actually be ready for sex during menstruation (put it down to the pesky progesterone), like many other creatures from the animal kingdom. And when they’ve done it anyway, it’s always been bad.

And what about those who might enjoy it (and there’s plenty research to back that up) but are constantly worried about the “mess” factor? In my wholly unscientific research, it often turns out that it’s not the women who find the blood gross, but the fear that the guy will find it so. My friend Vinita still winces when she tells me about the time she had period sex with a British expat, who initially claimed he was absolutely cool with it. Apparently, he still reminds her that she left bloodstains on his mattress. Sometimes it’s flirtatious, like a twisted Edward Cullen moment, and other times it’s not, especially when he uses words like “rank” to describe the offending stain. Either way, she isn’t planning on doing it again anytime soon, not even with towels around. And I don’t blame her.

At the other end of the spectrum are the “bloodhounds” – guys like me who love period sex, and who’ve been featured in recent times in a spate of articles. These pieces sometimes run wild, and frame us dudes as some sort of primal, animalistic beasts – a bit like eating raw meat.

This is also garbage, of course. Is it that hard to believe that someone can like period sex without being psychopathic or macho about it, that not all of us are on the verge of buying used tampons and underwear off the Internet? Is it such a radical idea to think that I like it because it just makes me feel closer to my partner?

I wonder if there will ever be a middle ground between bloodhounds and those who think any blood during sex is disgusting.

Maybe it’ll happen if I talk more about it, to women and men. I think I’ll start with my Colaba gang and talk to them in the only language they understand: Period sex is better than warm American Pie.