Can you get pregnant on your period? Is sex during your period enjoyable? And can you have unprotected sex during your bleed on the pill? We answer the commonest questions surrounding having sex on your period.
The period sex taboo
Aside from potential discomfort, having sex on your period should not be classed differently to sex had at any other time of the month.
Whilst some people period shame, there is nothing ‘dirty’ about having sex on your period. Menstrual fluid is a completely natural substance and does not contain anything harmful or irritating, provided both partners are STI-free.
Some people are put off by the prospect of a rather messy encounter, but condoms can make the clean-up easier and are essential if you are not using another form of birth control.
Many women actually experience a heightened sense of libido just before and during their periods, as the body receives a rush of oestrogen and testosterone. What’s more, the endorphins and contractions involved in orgasm are believed to help reduce the pain of period-related cramping.
If you are comfortable with it, having sex on your period can be safe, natural and enjoyable for both partners.
Can you get pregnant on your period?
Since they mark the break-down of your uterus lining and the expulsion of an egg from your body, many people think periods provide a safe window for unprotected sex.
Although it’s true you are at your least fertile, you can still get pregnant at any time during your period – that means just before it starts, during, and just after it finishes.
Since ovulation can start prematurely and sperm can survive for several days inside the body, there is still a possibility of pregnancy if you have unprotected sex during your period.
You should therefore use some form of contraceptive protection. Since STIs and HIV are passed on much more easily when a woman is on her period – the cervix is open wider than usual – wearing a condom is really essential.
Unprotected sex during your bleed on the pill
Provided you take your combined contraceptive pill exactly as prescribed, you can safely have unprotected sex at any point, including your bleed.
Your bleed is not the same as a normal period, but is a simulation of it. Since the combined pill stops ovulation happening in the first place, there is no egg present to fertilise. However, you should start your next pack as soon as your bleed has ended, as otherwise breakthrough ovulation could occur.
It’s also worth remembering that even though you can safely have sex without using condoms when on the combined contraceptive pill, you will not be protected against STIs.
If you missed pills or didn’t take it as instructed there is a chance you could still get pregnant, so you should avoid unprotected sex.
How to delay your period
There are two main methods for delaying your period: taking period delay pills or using two packs of the combined contraceptive pill back-to-back.
Period Delay tablets
Norethisterone is a prescription solution to delaying your period. The tablet contains a synthetic version of the hormone progesterone, which stops your uterus lining from breaking down and thus delays your period.
Period delay tablets are taken 3 times a day and can delay your period for up to 17 days. You will need to start your course 3 days before your period is due to start.
Whilst norethisterone is an effective means of delaying your period, it does not act as contraception so will not protect you against pregnancy.
It is perfectly safe to start a second monthly course of the combined contraceptive pill immediately after finishing your first as a means of delaying your period.
If you are taking a 21-day combined pill, such as Microgynon 30, simply start a new pack as soon as you’ve finished the first and you should not experience your bleed.
If you are taking an ‘everyday’ combined pill, such as Microgynon ED, don’t take the 7 ‘dummy pills’, but start your next pack as you’ve finished the first 21 active pills.
Your contraceptives will still work as normal. You should avoid taking more than two packs of the pill back-to-back, as this can lead to uncomfortable side-effects. It’s also important to stress that this method only applies to combined contraceptive pills – progesterone-only contraceptive pills cannot delay your period in this way.