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Should women simply put down a towel during their period and have sex?

Full disclosure: My period has been whack in 2016. It’s been a gauge for stress levels, fitness and how much I’m liking what is happening on the news. Basically it’s been a mess.

Further full disclosure: During a particularly stressful work time I had my period for three weeks.

Let that sink in. Three weeks.

I bled for three weeks and didn’t die so it’s me, Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant and Dorian Gray killing this immortality game.

This also meant that I wasn’t having sex because I’m, sadly, not a part of team #LayATowelDown. My period has always meant that sex is off the cards and not only sex but all other forms of hanky-panky. I will barely give a little over-the-sweater action. This is not because I have a particularly difficult period. Granted I am a little viler, and hate random strangers on the street, but generally my life continues. The problem is that I feel particularly filthy during my period. This is despite the fact that I do not look, dress or smell any different. In fact sometimes I upgrade all three during this time because I am convinced that I am a menstruating goblin, because it is ingrained in me that having your period is a filthy thing to happen.


This made me think of the paradigms underpinning ideas of women and their period and how these play out during sex? This was taken further when I stumbled on an incredible article about a woman whose boyfriend loved having sex with her during her period but she had a lot of hang-ups. She described where these reservations came from and all the usual suspects emerged: religion and female standards of beauty. Religious texts have for centuries called one of the most natural occurrences unclean and many of us have internalised this.

Adding onto that we live in a world where one can show gun violence but God forbid we actually have blood in a tampon advert. We instead show women wearing extremely awesome underwear or playing volleyball during their period. I personally cannot stand volleyball or rollerblading and yes I have period underwear cause sometimes time gets away from you and things go from zero-to-Vampire Diaries real quick.

Every woman has been there at least 20 or so times and it’s not pretty.

We’re unable to deal with the fact that a woman can actually have a moment where life is not waxed or oiled up with a hint of glitter. Working within this structure one can only imagine why a woman would not want to expose her already (policed) body to a lover during a time when the world for centuries has said she’s the social version of a swamp monster.

There are ideas (from men and women) about how unclean they or their partner are during this time. Granted no one wants the shock of going down there and coming back with what one friend lovingly called “a placenta or something”. But these hang-ups have more to do with how women’s bodies are viewed in the wider spectrum of things. Keeping a woman’s period a secret is a billion dollar industry outside of tampons and pads. We’re talking douches to make you smell like roses, sprays, scented things and all manner of rubbish to hide the fact that we’re menstruating – for approximately 40 years of our lives. And that is not counting the amount we spend on pain medication and soul food.

The problem with this is we are all left in a very tricky position, and some are tackling it. There are couples out there who are on the #LayATowelDown (a genuine movement) team because as one person said “a little blood never hurt anyone”. We want sex but feel we don’t deserve it or can have it. For one the endorphins that are released during sex are said to ease menstrual pain in some women. Not only that but women interviewed noted that they enjoyed sex during this time as not only were they extremely lubricated but also experienced heightened levels of sensitivity which made sex more pleasurable.

If you’re not having sex because it’s painful or uncomfortable then that makes sense but simply not doing it because of preconceived notions of being unclean should be looked at. It might be time to get out the old sheets and try something new.

Period sex is not an exact science.

Some women love it some will not, same with partners.


  • Kagure Mugo is the co-founder and full-time curator of HOLAAfrica! She is a part-time pseudo-academic and part-time wine-bar philosopher. A nomad (who has been everywhere and belongs nowhere) with a firm belief that no-one will love Africa till she loves herself.


  1. Isabella vd Westhuizen Isabella vd Westhuizen 22 June 2016

    Jeez you really enjoy grossing us all out

  2. Gunny85 Gunny85 23 June 2016

    Hmm, I don’t get the fuss. I have been with a woman during her cycle, and in all honesty, every time we did end up here, it was the most amazing, deep sensual experience. It is so special and you connect on a whole new level. And if a man knows how to treat a woman during this time, you can blow her mind. Every time she would cry due to the intense connection and love we both felt and shared.

    I also thought, this might not be for me, but after the first time, hell it was an unbelievable experience, and one that I believe you can only share with someone you really do love.

  3. solitoliquido solitoliquido 25 June 2016

    It’s all in the mind. I will not knowingly have sex when I know my partner is menstruating because I cannot stand blood (even in movies); but I have found myself having done it without either of us having known that it would start right there. On either occasion, the pleasure was great, as long as I wasn’t aware of the colour of the wetness down there. I would stop immediately if I were to see red. Nothing to do with the woman or my view of her; it’s in my mind.

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