Your period and sex drive

Loads of different factors and elements can affect your sex drive, from the weather to the smell. But the menstrual cycle certainly has a big influence. There’s not nearly enough scientific research into female libido, probably because, for a long time, science was a male-dominated field. However, recent studies are finding more and more connections between hormonal levels and sex drive during a menstrual cycle.


menstrual cycle

The menstrual cycle is a series of natural changes in female hormones and the structures of the uterus and ovaries of the reproductive system.


Hormones and horniness

The top dogs of the female sex drive are the hormones oestrogen and progesterone. A specific type of oestrogen called oestradiol appears to be positively correlated with horniness, whereas progesterone is the cockblocker; it suppresses libido and makes a quiet night in with the TV seem like the best option. Both hormones have their moments to shine during the menstrual cycle, though.

People who menstruate typically experience the highest libido in the five days leading up to ovulation. This is the most fertile point of the cycle, and where oestrogen levels are almost at their highest. Basically, your body doesn’t care if you only have £3 in your bank account and no desire to procreate. It’s going to betray you anyway by making you want to jump into bed when you’re the most likely to make babies. PSA: use protection. 

But oestrogen gets help from the hormone oxytocin, and the two work together to trigger sexual desire. Oxytocin, sometimes called the ‘love drug’, is the sneaky one that’s responsible for the formation of trust and emotional attachment.

The final ingredient in this hormone hot pot is the luteinising hormone, which sets off ovulation. This hormone surges alongside oxytocin and oestrogen. So, libido levels might be increased as a result of all three hormones shooting up at the same time, but the science isn’t yet sure.

Bleeding, but still banging

Sex on your period is a matter of personal preference; some like it and some don’t. If messy sheets aren’t your thing, stick to your guns and avoid the hassle. However, don’t be scared! Period sex can be liberating and helpful when it comes to easing menstrual discomfort. Lighter periods and reduced pain, as well as the power of orgasms to relax muscle tension and minimise cramps are among the best of the benefits that come from regular period sex. Plus, the natural lubrication is one of the (few) fun things about getting your period - it’d be a shame to waste it. Read more how-tos and must-dos here. 

The hormones are still working overtime at this point in your cycle, with the conservative aunt – progesterone – at a low, and oestrogen on the rise, although the effect of menstruation on the libido is less clear than that of ovulation. Generally, where hormone levels are changing, so is your sexual appetite.

It's not all about your cycle

Yes, the hormones are important, but they’re not the be-all-end-all of libido levels. Lifestyle factors like travel, stress, contraception, diet, and exercise all have an impact. We’re only human, and the effects of a happy and healthy lifestyle will likely be reflected in the bedroom.

The stats also support that more sex is had on weekends than on weekdays, again independent of the hormonal cycle. It’s probably due to convenience, but maybe there’s just something about a chilled-out Sunday that really gets people going…

What to do about it

So, to an extent, periods do affect your sex drive. But the best Mode of Operation is to respond to your body and the signals it gives you. If you want to have sex, by all means, go ahead! And if not, that’s fine too. At no point should you feel any pressure to do anything that doesn’t feel fun, safe, and natural. No one is a sex goddess 24/7. Your body changes constantly in response to anything from hormones to the eggs you had for breakfast, so be kind to it, nurture it, and try not to get frustrated at it, even if it does want you to make a baby each month.

Written by Ayaat Yassin-Kassab

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