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Do you have sex during your period? Or is sex during your period off of the table?

We’re in the middle of our series on periods! We’ve talked about the shame that some of us felt as teens; we’ve talked about how men can be more empathetic and aware of periods; and we’ve talked about when your period isn’t normal and you should seek help.

But mostly on this blog I talk about marriage and sex, so I thought we should dedicate at least one post to sex during your period!

How do most women feel about sex during their period?

It doesn’t really matter how MOST women feel. What matters is YOU.

From the research I’ve done, about 15-20% of women have sex during their periods pretty much like normal. Some women even say the sex is better, likely because they’re more sensitive with the increased blood flow

But the other 80% don’t. For some it’s an “ick” factor, which you could get over, if you wished to (and if he wished to). But for a substantial number it’s because the idea of it seems so off-putting based on how they’re feeling. When you’re super crampy, or you’ve got a very heavy flow which is making you hyper-sensitive in a bad way, the thought of anything touching there can be awful.

My take? If you both would like to have sex during your period, and you’re both comfortable with it, there’s nothing saying you shouldn’t. Get a towel under you, certainly DON’T wear a tampon at the same time, but have at it! And if you don’t want to have intercourse, but want to bring each other to orgasm in other ways, there’s no reason not to do that.

One caution, though: During orgasm, a menstruating woman can release more blood than usual, as your muscles push out, so to speak. So if you think you’re done and you’re only spotting, right after sex, you may have an additional mini-gush. Just be prepared!

However, if you don’t want to have sex during your period, that’s fine, too.

In the Old Testament Law, couples were supposed to abstain during her period

Women were considered “unclean” then, which has a rather unfortunate connotation that there’s something inherently shameful about being a woman. I see it more as they literally are unclean, in a land and time when fresh running water was hard to come by, and it was largely a hygienic thing.

But regardless, it was expected that couples would abstain.

If, then, you would like to abstain, no problem. God already expected men to abstain for those days; it’s okay if you ask your husband to because your body is making you uncomfortable for a time.

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What makes me very uncomfortable is how much some Christian marriage books tells women they must provide sexual favors during their periods

For the last few months, Rebecca and Joanna and I have been working on The Great Sex Rescue, our new book coming out in the spring with Baker. Based on our survey of 20,000 Christian women, it looks at the Christian teachings that have hurt women’s sexual response, decreased marital satisfaction, or increased sexual pain. We also looked at the top 15 marriage and sex books and saw which ones propagated these teachings.

And we were honestly dismayed by how the books handled women’s periods.

Most of the books taught a 72-hour rule, where men needed to be given sexual release every 72 hours or they would lust and be tempted to watch porn or have an affair. 

While I’m all in favour of a frequent sex life, that 72 hour rule is ridiculous, and certainly should not apply during one’s period. It’s far more important to figure out what you want as a couple.

We also found that if women enjoy sex and regularly orgasm, the frequency issue takes care of itself. We’re going on and on about frequency, when really what we should be going on and on about is how to make sex feel good for her–as Rebecca and I talked about in last week’s podcast!

But what really made us upset was that authors considered this 72 hour rule to be true even during the postpartum phase or her period. The husband just couldn’t be expected to wait for when his wife could enjoy sex, too. She owed him sexual favors regardless, because sex was seen as his right and his entitlement, and sexual release was the aim, rather than actual intimacy.

It honestly broke our hearts.

The Every Man’s Battle series was definitely the worst culprit, although Power of a Praying Wife said similar things. But even Sheet Music chimed in!

The most difficult time for this man [who was tempted by porn] was during his wife’s period, because she was unavailable to him sexually. After about ten years, she finally realized that pleasing her husband with oral sex or a simple “hand job” did wonders to help her husband through that difficult time.(49)

Kevin Leman

Sheet Music

Notice how he frames her period as a difficult time for the husband, rather than for the wife. When you read the stories of pain and cramping and heavy bleeding that have been in the comments all month, this is astronomically insensitive.

And here’s another:

There are times for whatever reason that a wife may choose to make use of what younger men affectionately refer to as “hand jobs”. A woman with heavy periods that last six or seven days, or who has just gotten through a pregnancy, or perhaps is simply not feeling her best, may genuinely feel that sex is more than she can handle. But with a minimum of effort, she can help her husband who feels like he’s about ready to climb the walls because it’s been so long. (p. 206)

Kevin Leman

Sheet Music

Now, if a wife wants to give a sexual favor (or if she wants to brought to orgasm by her husband, too), there is absolutely nothing wrong with that–as long as it is freely entered into. But setting up the expectation that this is an obligation is terrible, and will hurt how she sees sex (and we have the numbers to prove it–this lowers orgasm, increases sexual pain, and hurts marital satisfaction, as we’ll show in our upcoming book.)


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Can we call for Christian leaders to present sex as a mutual, intimate giving rather than an entitled taking?

Can we set up the expectation that sex should be freely entered into by both parties, and if it’s not freely entered into, then we should get to the root of the issue and honor each other, rather than guilting or manipulating someone into sex?

Can we set up the expectation that BOTH spouses would be giving towards each other? That includes the lower drive spouse working on embracing intimacy and passion at every level, so that the marriage can be a passionate one. But it also involves men giving their wives grace during times that God designed our bodies to not be available for intercourse?

I completely believe that sex is a vital part of a marriage, and I’m all for encouraging couples to figure out that sex piece!

If you’re having trouble looking forward to sex, check out Boost Your Libido! Work through 31 Days to Great Sex together and have those awesome conversations about what you both need to feel passionate, and what makes sex feel good for both of you. Read The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex and learn how God made women to be passionate, too. Or just take a look at this blog!

Are you TIRED of always being too tired for sex?

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Do you yearn to actually WANT to make love–and figure out what all the fuss is about?

There is a way! And in this 10-module course I take you through what libido is (it may surprise you!), what affects libido, and how we can reclaim the excitement that God made us for.

No one can accuse me of saying that sex isn’t important.

But when we turn sex into simply sexual release that women are obligated to give their husbands regardless of how they are feeling, and when mutuality is completely off the table, we diminish sex and we miss the point entirely. 

Please, Christians, let’s call each other to more.

Sex and Her Period - The PERIOD Series: What Do You Do About Sex During Your Period?

What do you think? Do you enjoy sex during her period? Is it asking too much to ask men to abstain during her period or in the postpartum phase? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum

Sheila has been married to Keith for 28 years, and happily married for 25! (It took a while to adjust). She’s also an award-winning author of 8 books, including The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila is passionate about changing the evangelical conversation about sex and marriage to line up with kingdom principles. ENTJ, straight 8

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