How A Menstrual Cycle Affects Your Sex Life
Have you ever been in the middle of a scintillating sack session, you’re feeling la passion, yet, remarkably, you or your partner is dry as a bone down there? What’s going on here? Does it mean she’s not turned on? Does it mean you aren’t doing something right?
The easy answer is no and no. If you or your partner is struggling to get things a little slippery, it doesn’t mean things are going wrong, and it doesn’t mean she’s not turned on.
It likely has a lot to do with where she is in her menstrual cycle, her mood, her stress levels, and possibly even what kind of food and exercise she’s enjoying.
Women are complicated beings. Well, their bodies are anyway. A typical male erection is obvious and straightforward. Dudes with penises don’t have to worry about their vaginal PH and the entire little flora (bacteria) ecology of their lady bits. Folks who bleed, to put it plainly, do.
How A Menstrual Cycle Affects Your Sex Life
Where a person is in their cycle plays a major factor in how their bodies “perform” during sex. Cycle phases also contribute to how you feel, how sensitive you might be to certain situations, and how interested you are in sex at all.
We’re going to get science-y for a moment because understanding how a menstruating body works allows you to either understand yourself better or to offer more compassion and care for the people in your life who are going through this experience all the time.
The Menstrual Phase
The menstrual phase is when the body bleeds. I’ve had sexual partners who didn’t know why the body bleeds. Some didn’t realize that I couldn’t control the blood (“It just drips out?”). Know your partner and their struggles. Periods are a powerful thing for some people, whether positive or negative. When a person bleeds, their uterus is shedding the monthly buildup and lining of the womb because pregnancy didn’t happen. Each month a new lining is formed.
Some people love having sex on their period. For others, it’s a big Hell No. Lubrication is definitely present during menstruation, and getting slippery shouldn’t be an issue. It just won’t be clear fluid. Prepare for a messier experience and do everything in your power to reassure your bleeding partner that there’s nothing to be self-conscious about. Any form of “gross” needs to be removed from the vocabulary of the supporting partner lest you wish to never have sex again during their cycle.
This phase can last anywhere from a few days to a week, on average.
"Temporary dryness doesn't mean a person isn't turned on, it just means that something is contributing to the experience that might require a little bit of compassion and gentleness"
The Follicular Phase
Estrogen and testosterone start to rise during this phase. The body is producing “follicles” which house tiny, immature eggs. Most of these will die and one will become a mature egg. During this phase, menstruating humans feel great! They might take charge more in the bedroom, and their energy will rise overall. As far as lubrication, there’s a greater chance that moisture during sex won’t be an issue. Not until ovulation does the lubrication peak in quality and consistency, but leading up to this date, there is less of a chance of feeling like the Mohave Desert.
The follicular phase typically lasts around 2 weeks, give or take some days for different folks, and ends with the ovulatory stage.
The Ovulatory Phase
This is where babies get made. The egg that was being nurtured in the follicular stage is now being released from the ovary. Ovulation is peak lubrication time. You likely won’t need any type of purchased lubricant because the body is setting the stage for reproduction to happen. Sexy, I know. Whether your intention is a baby or not, biology will take the lead here to make menstruating humans desire sex more. The body will also produce more slippery discharge, making the act of sex feel better for both partners.
While the ovulation stage often produces the most lubrication, it is the shortest phase. Heightened lubrication can last a few days, and the released egg only stays alive for about 24 hours.
The Luteal Phase
The final stage of the menstrual cycle sees a momentary rise in progesterone, and then a drop if pregnancy didn’t occur. Progesterone can make a person feel anxious and moodier, which aren’t always the best ingredients for a lubricated sex session. That doesn’t mean it’s not possible, though.
This phase lasts for about two weeks before the menstrual cycle begins again, and ‘round and ‘round we go.
Natural Lubrication Requires Context
Natural lubrication during sex is definitely affected by the menstrual cycle, but it’s not the end all be all. Temporary dryness doesn’t mean a person isn’t turned on, or that they can’t create their own natural lubrication during certain phases of their cycle, it just means that something is contributing to this experience that might require a little bit of compassion and gentleness.
The best way to handle dryness during sex is by creating an environment where the person experiencing it feels safe and accepted. Sometimes a little patience and perseverance from a supportive partner during The Act will allow the person to move past the dryness. And there’s nothing wrong with using purchased lubrication. It’s also worth opting for lube over saliva when possible because, you know, you don’t want to disrupt the delicate balance of the acidic vaginal pH.