About Last Night The good, the bad and the slightly messy 22-10-17

November 6, 2017

Q: My wife refuses to have sex when she has her period. Are there any medical reasons for not having sex during menstruation?

A: Many people feel squeamish about the idea of getting physically intimate while the woman has her period. Indeed, in many cultures a woman is deemed to be “unclean” at this time, and must keep separate for the duration. For others, shame or the yuck factor make the whole idea unpalatable. You might find this irrational, but remember that sex must be mutually pleasurable.

Some women assume that their man would be grossed out by this idea, but many men find it acceptable, and even arousing. There can also be something erotic about being transgressive, and breaking a taboo.

In an article titled “The good, the bad, and the slightly messy” (health.com), Tara Ford, a physician assistant at the Medical Centre for Female Sexuality in New York, talks about sex and menstruation.

Ford says some women report feeling more aroused and more sensitive around this time. This is because your oestrogen and testosterone levels are low on day one, but they start to rise by day three, and arousal can be easy.

However, Ford observes that here is no right or wrong here, and you need to be willing to respect your partner’s point of view.

“Every couple is different, and some people will be more open to it than others,” she says. “If you’re curious what your partner might think about this, ask them. However, don’t spring it on him or her in the heat of the moment – bring it up before things get hot and heavy. Good communication can lead to great sex at any time during the month.”

How is your sex life in general? If sex is a chore, menstruation can be a good excuse for a week off. Talk to your wife, and find out exactly where her objections lie. As far as health concerns go, it’s perfectly natural and safe for both partners, Ford says.

The biggest concern for most people is the potential for mess, but this is just a matter of preparation and timing, for example, the menstrual flow is heaviest at the start of the period.

Ford suggests that you spread towels on the bed, and, to counter the effects of gravity, stick to the missionary position, with the woman on her back.

Some women take the added precaution of wearing a menstrual cup, or the female condom. Others insert a sterilised piece of sea sponge. This is almost undetectable. Wearing a male condom can also make the clean up easier for him. Afterwards, there is all the fun of sharing a shower.

Ford warns couples not to freak out if they see lumps and clots of dark blood or tissue. These are just bits of the lining of the uterus and are perfectly normal.

Women who suffer from painful menstrual cramps, or excessively heavy bleeding, might not feel at all interested in sex at this time. However, there is some medical evidence that having an orgasm can relieve premenstrual syndrome and period pain.

Also, for women who experience some vaginal dryness, the flow can act as an effective lubricant.

This can also be a time to get creative. After all, sex is not only about penetration. So, if a woman feels aroused, but is reluctant to have intercourse she can wear a tampon and the focus can be on the clitoris, says Ford, and she can still help her partner orgasm with manual or oral stimulation.

The two main medical risks that need to be taken into account are contraception and protection from sexually transmitted infections.

It is possible to get pregnant during menstruation. “Some periods last more than a week and sometimes a woman’s ovulation can overlap with menstruation … and … sperm can last from three to five days,” Ford says.

Viruses that are transmitted by the sharing of bodily fluids, such as hepatitis and HIV, could be present in menstrual blood. Consult your doctor if you are unsure.

Email your questions to abtlastnight@gmail.com

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