Is Period Sex The Ultimate Lesbian Sexual Indicator?

sex-survey-results

Click for other stories from the Ultimate Lesbian Sex Survey!

In February 2015, Autostraddle launched The Ultimate Lesbian Sex Survey, open to all “lady-types who sleep with lady-types.” We garnered over 8,566 complete responses (89% of which were from people between the ages of 18 and 36) and now we’re sharing the results with you, bit by bit. Today, we’re talking about period sex.


How someone feels about having sex during their period is a surprisingly good indicator of how they feel about lots of other types of sex, according to the Ultimate Lesbian Sex Survey. Across the board, people who answered they were “enthusiastically in favor” of sex on their period were more likely to have more, longer, and more satisfying sex; more likely to be ecstatic in their relationships; more likely to prefer non-monogamous relationships; more likely to be kinky (and among kinky people, more likely to be up for anything); more likely to use safer sex practices; and more likely to report overall satisfaction with their sex lives compared to people “strongly against” sex on their period.

Period sex might as well be the new shorthand for whether someone is likely to be adventurous in bed. I was so fascinated by this that I broke it down across almost every category we examined, and on almost every single question, people enthusiastically in favor of sex on their period were also more likely to be enthusiastically in favor of anything else. It’s too bad there are so few of them.

Sex On Your Period, Sex On Hers

To start, we asked how respondents feel about sex during their period and how they feel about sex during a partner’s period. (Elsewhere, 92% of survey respondents defined sex as “any time you are with at least one other person and someone is trying to make someone have an orgasm.”) When it came to sex during their period, 37% of respondents were enthusiastically or somewhat in favor, 24% were neutral, and 23% were somewhat or strongly against it. (There were also some respondents for whom the question was not applicable.) When it came to sex during a partner’s period, 42% were enthusiastically or somewhat in favor, 33% were neutral, and 23% were somewhat or strongly against it.

To some extent, how someone felt about sex during their period indicated how they felt about sex during a partner’s. For instance, only two people were enthusiastically into sex during their periods but strongly against sex during a partner’s, and I can only assume these people misread the question or are assholes or virgins who can’t drive. (I investigated. Neither was a virgin.) And 59% of those strongly against sex during a partner’s period were also against sex during their own. Largely, however, respondents were more positive or neutral about sex during a partner’s period than during their own.

how do you feel about period sex chart

Interestingly, 82% of those enthusiastically into sex during their period were in a monogamous or non-monogamous relationship, and 62% of those strongly against were. It’s possible that people in relationships are more comfortable having sex during their period, but it’s not universally true.

Period Sex And How Good Your Sex Life Is

Comparing across those enthusiastically in favor of sex on their period versus those strongly against sex on their period as the site of the most dramatic difference was where things started to get interesting. Only 12% of respondents said they were enthusiastically in favor of sex during their own period (from here on, just “period sex”), while 12% were strongly against it. Those two groups acted like opposite ends of a gradient, with “somewhat for,” “neutral,” and “somewhat against” spaced about evenly between them for almost every question.

What I found? How someone feels about period sex is a pretty good indicator of how good the rest of their sex life is. And the more into period sex someone was, the better that sex life.

Those enthusiastically in favor of period sex had sex more often; 66% of those enthusiastically in favor of period sex have sex once a week or more, compared to 34% of those strongly against. They were also more likely to have sex that lasts longer: 56% reported an average sexual encounter of one to two hours or more versus 51% of those strongly against. Those strongly against were also way more likely to have sexual encounters lasting under 15 minutes (6% for them versus 1.5% for those enthusiastically for).

Those in favor of period sex also reported being more confident in bed: 49% feel “very confident,” compared to 25% for those strongly against.

Since how much and how often aren’t everything, we also asked about respondents’ satisfaction with their relationships if they were in any, and with their sex lives overall.

For those in at least one non-monogamous relationship of any kind, 53% of those enthusiastically in favor of period sex are ecstatic about that relationship compared to 27% of those strongly against. They were also a little more likely to make out with their partners for fun instead of to lead to sex once a day or more (54% vs 43%) and more likely to try something new in bed a few times a month or more (72% vs 46%). And, they were more likely to talk about sex with partners once a day or more (59% vs 24%) and more likely to report feeling “very successful” communicating about sex (89% vs 54%).

For those in a monogamous relationship, 86% of those enthusiastically in favor of period sex are ecstatic about that relationship compared to 57% of those strongly against. They were also more likely to make out with their partners for fun instead of to lead to sex once a day or more (71% vs 47%) and more likely to try something new in bed a few times a month or more (51% vs 24%). And they were more likely to talk about sex with partners once a day or more (61% vs 30%) and more likely to report feeling “very successful” communicating about sex (92% vs 60%).

Finally, those enthusiastically in favor of period sex were more likely to be satisfied with their sex lives overall; 35% said they were “very satisfied,” compared to 16% of those strongly against.

period-sex-and-sexual-satisfaction-ultimate-lesbian-sex-survey-autostraddle

Period Sex and What Your Sex Life Looks Like

Feelings about period sex are also a good indicator of what that sex life looks like. Again, nearly across the board, being into period sex made it more likely respondents would be into… pretty much everything else.

Those enthusiastically in favor of period sex were:

  • More likely to be up for a partner watching them masturbate (50% vs 16%), and more likely to want to watch a partner masturbate (74% vs 41%);
  • More likely to use sex toys alone (54% vs 39%) or with a partner (52% vs 24%) once a week or more; and
  • More likely to be exclusively or very interested in kink (57% vs 28%).

Even among kinky people, those enthusiastically in favor of period sex are more likely to be interested in giving or receiving — for example — impact play with hands (79% vs 60%) or toys (62% vs 43%), power play (74% vs 52%), face slapping (52% vs 31%), blindfolding (86% vs 77%), hair pulling (93% vs 81%), biting (94% vs 89%), light bondage (88% vs 73%), heavy bondage (48% vs 29%), marks (67% vs 48%), nipple play (62% vs 41%), orgasm control (71% vs 54%), pain (67% vs 45%), consensual non-consent/”rape” play (44% vs 28%), scratching (83% vs 71%), temperature play (68% vs 52%), play piercing (12% vs 5%), gags (45% vs 27%), exhibitionism/voyeurism (58% vs 33%), service (51% vs 31%), role play (67% vs 49%), and, perhaps unsurprisingly, blood play (21% vs 7%).

Even though in some cases the difference was small, those enthusiastically in favor of period sex were more into the activity to hand than those strongly against, with the likelihood someone would be interested in an activity largely decreasing along with their enthusiasm for period sex.

adapted from shutterstock.com

adapted from shutterstock.com

Those enthusiastically in favor of period sex were also less likely to take part in unsafe sexual behavior, with 53% reporting that they don’t use protection, versus 63% of those strongly against. This number seems high; queer women are notoriously bad at safer sex. They were also more likely to always discuss safer sex with first-time (46% vs 36%) and long-term (48% vs 33%) partners, though this might have also been because they were more likely to have been diagnosed with an STI (16% vs 7%) — though since those strongly against were also way more likely to report having never been tested for STIs, that may not be representative.


There you have it! Everything you never wanted to know about period sex but have been forced to find out. The great thing about looking at a pile of data is that it lets you discover overall trends, but we didn’t have an open-ended response question about period sex, so please share your stories in the comments!

Carolyn Yates is the NSFW Consultant, and was formerly the NSFW Editor (2013–2018) and Literary Editor, for Autostraddle.com. Her writing has appeared in Nylon, Refinery29, The Toast, Bitch, Xtra!, Jezebel, and elsewhere. She recently moved to Los Angeles from Montreal. Find her on twitter.

Carolyn has written 895 articles for us.

41 Comments

    • Carolyn doesn’t say that all women have periods anywhere. Also, she doesn’t say that all people who menstruate are women.
      I’m guessing that the people who don’t menstruate ticked n/a and moved on to the next question.

      • This. Or ticked n/a and answered the rest of question, because some of us have, or are interested in, partners who do!

        What a needlessly inflammatory and rude post; it’s almost as if you want to make trans women look bad. Stella.

    • Stella – Many women do have periods and often spend a the first half of their life being shamed for them. This isn’t cissexist. Its a response to a survey and this argument comes up every time Audostraddle posts survey results. Most lesbians are cis. Not all of them, but most are. As a result the data in these surveys will be skewed toward cisgender women’s answers. Its not erasing trans women. ok? Being so violently opposed to women talking about mensuration is really problematic. (ps I am a trans woman)

    • I’m trans, queer, and I don’t have periods and I don’t think this is cissexist garbage at all. Being trans-inclusive doesn’t mean you’re never allowed to talk about experiences that are exclusive to cis women. And like Gia Fino said, that’s what the N/A option was for. If that wasn’t an option, then I may have agreed with you, but as it stands, I don’t get what you’re angry about.

  1. This is fun, and interesting, but as for being the “ultimate lesbian sexual indicator” I hope we can agree it may just be a good sign that you are comfortable with sex/your body and that this often correlates with a happier and/or more open sex life.

    Even if the majority of responses lean one way, you gotta remember there are plenty of people who will lean the other and buck the trend too. You choose to set your own boundaries and you can still have great sex life even if period sex is unappealing, or difficult, for whatever reason.

    Reading articles in this style can be a bit disheartening if you don’t wholly understand the nature of the statistics and “seem” to be on the outside, and I wish the article would talk a little about that as well.

  2. Well, among my group of friends we have a name for this: “little clown” days. I think the name it’s quite obvious, but let’s share an image to make it more clear…

    The thing is, and the same goes for my GF and my friends I’m sure, I belong to that group of women who gets horny as hell during her period.

    I’m sorry if somebody is offended by the name we gave period sex or the picture, but I did get too many odd faces from gynecologists to care about it.

  3. One of the reasons why respondants might have showed up more enthusiastic about sex in a partners period than their own is about physical implications of a period.

    For example, I know that my period is usually really physically painful, and that id rather float in a bath of warm water and my own tears than have sex with anyone, even if I really really fancied them, so I would probably report that I wasn’t that into having sex on my period, but if my partner wanted to have sex on *her* period, I’d be totally up for it so I’d report that. Not being into period sex is not necessarily because someone is like “ew period”, it might be because they feel like their womb is being strangled by their large intestine, and it doesn’t make them horny.

    • I totally agree! And if you mentally interpret “neutral” as “if they’re into it” (i.e. “I don’t care about period sex one way or the other but if a partner wants it I’m in”) for both respondents and respondents’ partners it makes that even more the case. We didn’t ask about pain or body stuff or the reasons behind levels of period sex enthusiasm and clearly there has to be something there. (And, like @trypr noted above, people will always fall outside of the trend. Personally some of the kinkiest people I know are incapacitated by their periods, for instance.)

      • “Neutral” doesn’t really translate into “they’re into it”. As an example, I can be really against period sex from the thought of the terrible cramps that seem to get worse sometimes from sex…that’s not having a “neutral” opinion. It’s a great study, but y’all should work on the wording of categories a bit more for the next time. Just some constructive criticism.

        • You will notice that the phrasing in the actual survey includes a “neutral” answer separate from for/against options. Thinking about “hmm maybe some people meant neutral to mean if a partner’s into it” is fun in the comments but not how I actually interpreted the data.

    • Exactly! As a lady with menorrhagia, I pretty much always have zero interest in sex during most of my period. Not because I find it icky, but because my body feels like hell and sex is not the cure that I need. (Especially on the days I’m taking heavy doses of ibuprofen, which also mess with my stomach.)

  4. In my relationships, sex on her/my period has been directly related to how great our sex life was. Mind you, I’m less likely to want to have sex on MY period, but pretty fine on hers. Bloating and cramps and all the digestive system issues and pain and blood don’t really make for me feeling sexy…so it’s pretty awesome when someone thinks I’m sexy even when all of that is happening to me.
    I will say, though, that a good massage (+ foot rub!) is better than sex for me when I’m on my period. It’s literally orgasmic. Haha.

  5. The correlation between people who have period sex and people who have adventurous and great sex makes perfect sense…periods are pushed by society/media/whatever as gross and disgusting and women on their periods are gross/disgusting/smelly/moody monsters (affecting both the person on their period and the sexual partner, guy or girl) SO if you can push past that and enjoy yourselves sexually, then obviously you’re probably adventurous/bucking societal sex rules in other ways, too.

  6. I’m glad that a couple of people already mentioned this. Not liking period sex doesn’t have to be because you think it’s gross or w/e. For some people it just doesn’t feel good. One a dem being me.

  7. Interesting factoid: a whole heap of studies have shown that synching up periods doesn’t happen as often in queer menstruating couples as I’ve always been led to think! This is so great to read, but if there’s a re-survey in the distant future I would have loved a question about the percentage of participants who *discuss* menstrual sex with sexual partners/relations: my lady and I have mutually agreed that the three-day crampfest we both sleep through at different points in our cycles benefit more from tandem cups of tea than an orgasm, but we totally talked about it to get to that conclusion! I’d be interested to see how the statistics about openness to sex that the awesome Carolyn collected, sit with or against those who have purely discussed menstual sex – no matter the outcome of that discussion – than those who actually actively *have* menstrual sex. It’s a curious thing! Thanks Autostraddle!

  8. After I first had sex with a woman, like most lesnoobs I wanted to have as much practise as I could get. It follows I was pretty devastated when 1 hour before my special lady friend (SLF) was to arrive, my bloody red visitor beat her to my door.
    Expecting the fun times to be cut short, I was assured that it could be worked around- and indeed it was. The fact that she wasn’t disgusted by the idea of touching me red (hands only gals, no lips!), actually made me feel really accepted, connected and desired.
    As things rolled out, that was the best night of sex we shared together for both sides. Because I felt so desired I wanted to give her my best, and because I felt so connected and accepted I was able to open myself a little more to her and better relax to a good time. And all that for my second ever sexy lez time!

    Thanks for writing on this topic – really enjoying reading up on these “taboo” topics 🙂

Contribute to the conversation...

You must be logged in to post a comment.