Illustration: Janet Sung
I have a superpersonal story to share. It’s not my story. Nope, not at all. It’s the superpersonal story of… a woman I know. We’ll call her Not Me.
Once, early on in a new relationship, Not Me started a hot-and-heavy sex session with her partner. A few moments later, he got a stricken look on his face.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
“I feel like… I just scraped against something,” he said. “Is there something inside you?”
Not Me’s first thought was a random 1984 song by Sheena Easton, “Sugar Walls.” Though she was only 11 years old, this woman knew that “Sugar Walls,” like the Mary Jane Girls’ “In My House,” was likely code for something vaguely sexual.
Back in the present day, she became horrified. Were her sugar walls somehow granulated? Did her boyfriend scrape her walls? She knew that was ridiculous, but her partner looked like he was in serious pain. What could have happened?
Then it hit her: It was the last day of her period and she completely forgot that she had inserted a just-in-case final tampon earlier in the day. No sugar walls. Just a plain ol’ errant tampon.
Her partner’s penis had hit against the tampon a few times and lightly scraped it. (The resulting bruise stuck around for a week. Gulp.) She apologized profusely; he told her not to worry, that it wasn’t a big deal at all.
Somewhere along the way, most of us (women included!) became wildly misinformed about what it means for a woman to be on her period, what to expect, and whether sexual activity can safely take place.
But then, Not Me had a bigger concern. She went to the bathroom to take out the tampon — and couldn’t find the string to pull it out. She struggled; she contorted; nothing seemed to work. She went back to bed, horrified, and told her partner what happened.
“Lie down,” he said.
Was he really going to try and get it out? Absolutely not, said Not Me.
He said, “Hey, look, we’re adults here. I don’t want you to have to deal with this. You can’t leave it in there. I know enough about the woman’s body to know that’s not safe. I can help you try to get it out. It’s really not that serious.”
Not Me did the unthinkable. She allowed her man to help fish a tampon out of her vagina.
And he didn’t even trip.
What’s the point of this opening anecdote?
This woman realized, in her mid-forties, that things associated with menstruation were not nearly as big of a deal as she’d always made it. And that grown-ass men didn’t care about any of it.
Sex comes with fluids of all kinds. Saliva, semen, lube, and — depending on what you’re into — others. Their color or provenance is kinda beside the point.
Now that we’ve got out of the way, I have an important question.
Do you believe that women are unclean and thus not fit for sexual contact while they are on their period? If so, you can go ahead and skip this article. I’ll see you next week here on Dear Level.
Okay, now that the mature readers are left: Have you ever had sex with a woman on her period? If the thought makes you queasy, I need to know why.
Is it the blood — or just the idea of the blood?
So. Time for a quiz!
How much blood does a woman lose during her menstrual cycle?
A. Enough to ruin a set of sheets and for her partner to look like he’s been stabbed to death.
B. Not sure exactly, but enough to make her partner uncomfortable — maybe three measuring cups.
C. This is ridiculous. As a grown-ass man, I know it’s just a simple shedding of her uterine lining — usually not more than two to three tablespoons. And that’s for her entire cycle.
The answer is C. Somewhere along the way, most of us (women included!) became wildly misinformed about what it means for a woman to be on her period, what to expect, and whether sexual activity can safely take place.
Let’s say it’s just the idea of blood that feels off. That’s normal; humans tend to equate blood with injury. But if your woman had blood shed from any other source — a skinned knee, a minor cut, or a broken nail — would you still shudder and ban her from sex? Probably not. It’s the source of the blood that likely squicks you out. And that may mean that vaginas squick you out, too.
The truth is, a towel or an old sheet (preferably dark colored) on the surface is all you need to have a grand ol’ time while Aunt Flo is in town. Everything blood touches, including you, is super easy to clean.
Quite frankly, unless your woman has an extremely heavy cycle — and that’s usually because of other health reasons, like fibroids — there’s no reason why she should be off-limits because she’s on her period. If you’re squeamish, handle that.
Start by asking your partner: Does she want to be off-limits? Some women are supersensitive during their periods — physically, emotionally, and otherwise. So it may be her choice not to indulge. If that’s the case, of course you should wait it out. But if she’d like to be intimate with you, it’s a good idea to see if there’s a way you can make it work.
Feminine care products have come a long way since the days when pads and tampons were the sole options. Advancements like menstrual cups can make period sex even more convenient. The flexible cup, designed for comfortable usage during intercourse, is inserted into the vagina to collect the fluids before being emptied and reused.
If you’re still not here for it, there are other ways to make your partner orgasm without penetration. Have some fun trying alternatives. Some women can actually have orgasms solely from nipple stimulation — could be fun to find out if your partner is one of the lucky ones.
As always, this begins with communication. If your woman wants to be pleasured no matter what’s happening inside her sugar walls, show her you care enough to try it out.
Try it for me — I mean, Not Me.