"Feeling no shame": Sex and Menstruation
Recently I was having a discussion with a friend about whether or not to have sex during menstruation, and this love scene came to mind from LDS author Judith Freeman’s A Desert of Pure Feeling. The woman in the encounter is LDS and was married at age 19. Her first child suffered complications at birth that compelled her to leave Utah and her cheating grad student husband behind to seek state-of-the-art medical care thousands of miles away. There she meets her son’s handsome Guatemalan doctor and they end up having an affair. I’ve excerpted some relevant portions of the scene below [and do note that I’m not condoning adultery by quoting from this novel, I merely use it to illustrate a point about sex & periods]:
“We made love in the dark. I was struck by the slenderness and tautness of his body, and his extreme grace, his almost agonized ecstasy at the moment of orgasm. And I remember afterward turning on a light and seeing all the blood, and feeling no shame that it was mine. I had not mentioned this to him, that I was menstruating, and later when he’d washed off in the shower and come back to bed, he’d said very casually, ‘You’re bleeding, you know,’ and I said ‘Yes I know.’ This seemed to amuse him that I felt no shame, no embarrassment, that it hadn’t stopped me from coming to the motel with him. “It’s nice,” he said to me very gently, “I don’t mind.” He showed none of the disgust I would later feel with other men, who recoiled from the thought of making love during this time. I was so young, so inexperienced in spite of marriage, that I didn’t know about these things, did not even consider it, did not know what one should do or shouldn’t do in such situations. I only knew that I wanted him, and that he wanted me, and lying in his arms afterward I was suffused with feelings of love for him.” (94-95)
From conversations with many of my friends, I’ve found a wide variety of attitudes about having sex during menstruation::
1) Many said that they abstain from sex and/or sexual intimacy during menstruation and even the 2 or 3 days before and after the woman’s period because one or both partners find sex during this period to be unsavory.
2) For friends using the rhythm method of birth control, they really enjoy having sex during her period because it is the time of the month when she is the least likely to conceive [do note that conception is possible during menstruation, but more unlikely than at other times of the month]
3) On the advice of a physician, a single friend began regularly using a vibrator during her period because it lessened her severe cramps.
4) Some said that during the woman’s period they avoid vaginal sex and engage in other forms of sex or intimacy.
5) One friend said that they had sex regardless, and just learned to use a lot of dark colored towels to keep any bloodstains from their sheets.
6) Using The Keeper or a diaphragm to contain the flow, was also suggested as a way to have sex during one’s period without being so messy.
7) Female friends who have already passed menopause praised the freedom of that era of life, where monthly cycles don’t interfere with intercourse.
I’m curious about your experience with having sex during menstruation. Do you find your cycle to be a desirable respite from lovemaking or do you continue having intercourse during your period?
*Image taken from the Museum of Menstruation