Does sex help period pain?
There’s a lot of taboo around masturbation, sex, and periods. But, does sex help period pain? What if I told you that yes, this is true? That masturbation on your period could possibly shorten your period? That it could even help with regulating mood?
News flash: period blood isn’t dirty, menstruation isn’t unhygienic, and there are a lot of positive effects from engaging in sex/masturbation on your period! With over 80% of people with periods experiencing menstrual pain, many are looking for alternative ways to manage it and masturbation is something that can be done for free with no tools necessary¹!
How can orgasms help my period pain?
When you orgasm, there are three main ‘feel-good’ endorphins that are released: dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin. These hormones help to diminish period pain, mood instability, and discomfort².
Thanks to these endorphins released, studies have found that orgasm can increase a menstruating person’s pain threshold by 75-100%!
Now, science doesn’t fully understand how orgasms affect PMS (largely due to lack of funding in uterine health research) but there are some theories and inferring that can be done. Norepinephrine, one of the hormones released after orgasm, is like nature’s organic pain killer and helps by inhibiting the nerve pain receptors in our pelvic region from communicating with the brain. This reduction in pain signals can last for hours post-orgasm, making cramps much more bearable or not existent at all³.
Those three feel-good endorphins mentioned earlier also help reduce PMS through orgasms by activating the reward centre in the brain, improving mood—which can also change how we interpret pain signals!
There is also an overall increase in blood flow to the pelvic region during stimulation/orgasm, which is a known way to relax muscles and reduce inflammation.
The norepinephrine, feel-good hormones and increased circulation cumulatively work together to give us the results of minimized period symptoms after orgasm.
Can orgasms shorten my period?
There’s a phenomenon many menstruating people see when using sex/masturbation as a tool to manage PMS: a shorter period bleed. While this remains unstudied, and therefore unproven, there are some theories.
Doctors have previously explained that when orgasm occurs it spasms the uterus. This spasming effect may help squeeze out the endometrial lining quicker and more efficiently, thus helping periods to taper off sooner!
Even though we don’t have specific research to go off here, shortening a period sure could be a bonus side effect of orgasming!
It’s the Big O that matters
Let’s be crystal clear here; it’s the orgasm that has these wonderful, helpful, effects on PMS, not just penetrative sex. Orgasm can be achieved with a partner, or alone, with penetration, or without penetration! Some folks find doing this in the shower helps for easy clean up, but laying a towel down does the same job. Our menstrual blood is no different safety wise than blood that exits our body any other way, it’s not unsanitary to touch.
Is period sex bad? It’s not for everyone!
While orgasms can be helpful for many people’s menstrual disturbances, it isn’t the answer for everyone. Some folks with reproductive conditions such as endometriosis, fibroids, and cysts may know that certain activities like penetration are a trigger for their discomfort.
If you don’t find orgasms helpful for your period symptoms, or simply aren’t comfortable with sex/masturbation during your menstrual week, that’s okay! Everyone is entitled to making the choice of what is right for them.
Breaking down taboos
One of the main contributors to period poverty is the social taboos around menstruation. Through my work as a reproductive health educator, and companies like joni organic period care, we can help bring awareness to this issue and help change attitudes.
Fortunately, throughout the past decade, many more people are experimenting with alternative ways to manage period cramps. As masturbation and sex have become less taboo, more people are open to seeing how orgasms can help manage their period pain.
90% recommend orgasms to reduce period pain!
Recent information has shown that 90% of people who tried orgasms for period pain would recommend it to a friend. So next time you’re waiting for your Advil to kick in for cramps, you know how to help in the meantime!
Grandi, G., Ferrari, S., Xholli, A., Cannoletta, M., Palma, F., Romani, C., . . . Cagnacci, A. (2012). Prevalence of menstrual pain in young women: What is dysmenorrhea? Retrieved April 08, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3392715/
S;, B. (2010, April). The relative health benefits of different sexual activities. Retrieved April 08, 2021, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20088868/
Fillingim, R., King, C., Ribeiro-Dasilva, M., Rahim-Williams, B., & Riley, J. (2009, May). Sex, gender, and pain: A review of recent clinical and experimental findings. Retrieved April 08, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2677686/