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The more I talk to people about hormones, the more I realize we are all different when it comes to what’s going on for us on any given day of the month.

While science may say you are most likely to feel frisky in the lead up to ovulation (around day 14 of your menstrual cycle) that has never been my personal experience. If you’re anything like me, ovulation isn’t a cause for celebration. Pretty bad cramps mean sex is usually the last thing on my mind, even if it is what biologists say my body should want. The lead up to my period though? Now that’s a different story.

In researching this piece I spoke to friends, scoured the internet (with interesting results) and enjoyed deep diving into Reddit way too much. What did I find? Turns out, a big proportion of us love having sex both in the lead up to, and while we are on, our period. So what’s going on hormonally here to make us feel more in the mood while we’re menstruating?

Well, leading intimacy expert and licensed sex and relationships therapist Dr. Viviana Coles thinks a few different factors may feature. Coles highlights how throughout our cycle, we experience an influx and release of hormones which can have a big impact on not just our bodies, but our minds too. While some of us may feel aroused around ovulation because of peaking estrogen, others may find the impact of pain or stress leaves them less likely to want to connect physically.

Coles goes on to note that a release in hormones, such as when we get our period, may offer a release for us mentally. She reports how some women have discussed with her how they feel more in the mood precisely because they know they are not pregnant. Coles highlights how feeling turned on can be intimately connected to the release of stress. Therefore, If you are worried about an unplanned pregnancy, even though it is still possible to fall pregnant while menstruating, a period can be a pleasant reminder you are not pregnant at that time.

Equally, Cole explains that PMS symptoms can feel a bit like the beginning stages of pregnancy. Your body is filled with more blood than usual. The more blood that circulates through the body, the more able you are to tap into arousal , whether that’s through physical touch or through your imagination.

Finally, Coles mentions how during your period, you become hyper-aware of what’s happening down below, which can for some, translate into feeling more stimulated or aroused. After all, for many of us, the ‘thinking’ about sex can be as great as the act itself.

Woman showing clean tampons in hand

The advice? Try to ride that wave. The physiological hormone ‘release’ of getting your period may well increase pleasure and mean your experience, be that with a partner or alone, is more enjoyable. Equally, experiencing pleasure on your period can actually be helpful. It can shorten the number of days you menstruate for and help to improve your cramps. So what are you waiting for?

Worries about what a partner will think of period blood is a common concern for lots of women. While we can’t change the way you feel about this, it is important to remind you that having sex on your period is perfectly safe and sanitary. Period blood is not dirty and in fact, it can increase your pleasure if you are having penetrative sex. It offers more lubrication, so win win!

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