We’re constantly told that periods shouldn’t stop us from getting on with our everyday lives. Aside from the widespread misinformation surrounding menstruation and PMS (no, guys, it’s not just a tummy ache), tampon commercials regularly feature women dancing in pristine white dresses, biking up mountains and even jumping out of airplanes (which is great, if that’s the sort of thing you usually do). But the one activity yet to be acknowledged by advertising and indeed the mainstream narrative is – whisper it –period sex.

It’s a weirdly divisive topic, given how absolutely natural both sex and periods are – but as with many things, it’s a matter of personal preference. According to one survey, 45% of people queried said it was at least “kinda gross,” while just edging in with the majority were the 55% of people who said it was “natural or awesome.”

Obviously, period sex can be totally awesome. Some women report stronger orgasms when they’re on, and there’s evidence to suggest orgasms can help cure cramps. Plus, you’ve got a bit of extra lube to help things along. But if you’re part of the pro-period sex camp, you’ll know that it brings with it a few additional considerations. These are usually completely manageable, but as these stories demonstrate, sometimes things can get a bit… out of hand.

I was 16 at the time, so bear in mind that I hadn’t had my period for very long, nor had I been having sex for very long! My boyfriend and I were getting down to business, everything was going well, but towards the end he pulled away and noticed quite a lot of blood. It didn’t even occur to me that it could have been my period, so we both sat on the bed crying, thinking one of us had seriously damaged the other and maybe we’d bleed to death. It wasn’t until I went to the toilet that I realised what was actually going on.

Kelly, 25

I was getting frisky with a guy I’d been seeing for a little while, and thought I’d better mention that I was on my period. He very sweetly replied, “Oh God, that’s completely fine! I’m not squeamish, I have a period towel for this situation.” Which was nice, but also… weird? And then he pulled out a once-white towel which was COVERED in the stains left from previous period sex escapades with other women. He started spreading it out on the bed and then – and I was already horrified – he said, “Ah, I’m not sure it’s been washed since I last had it out. It feels a bit crusty.” I said I wasn’t actually in the mood, left and never saw him again. I later heard from a mutual friend that he thought I was too conservative. Wow.

Anna, 33

One drunken night, my then-boyfriend and I had the house to ourselves. We were getting down to it in the living room, and as I was on my period he went upstairs to grab a towel. While he was out of the room I quickly removed my soiled sanitary towel from my underwear and shoved it under a sofa cushion, where I promptly forgot all about it. Two days later, my housemate was looking for the TV remote – guess what she found instead? She’s never forgiven me, and rightly so.

Leanne, 31

My ex and I used to have sex all the time while I was on my period – it was no big deal, and we’d get around the mess by shagging in the shower. This was usually fine, until one time we noticed there was quite a bit more blood than usual. Like, a lot more blood. I was starting to panic that maybe something dreadful had happened to my bits, and then he pulled out, revealing that he’d actually snapped his banjo string (a.k.a. the frenulum, that small bit of skin between the foreskin and the shaft), and despite the pain had kept on persevering anyway!

Rose, 22

So my story is less about the period sex itself, and more about what happened in its aftermath. I was 17, and with my ‘bad boy’ boyfriend. He was my mate’s older brother and I thought he was the coolest person in the whole world, plus the sex was phenomenal. I didn’t know I was due on until he was going down on me one day and emerged from the duvet looking like Bear Grylls – whoops! I was embarrassed, but he was completely cool about it all. Fast-forward to the next morning when we’re cuddling in bed, and he said: “After last night, I feel like I can be a bit more real with you.” Then he brought his hand to his mouth and REMOVED A TOOTH PLATE, revealing a whole row of missing teeth. He smiled at me with his huge gummy hillbilly grin and I’ve never tried so hard in my whole life not to piss myself.

Hannah, 27

I was at Glastonbury, a bit drunk and a bit high. Back in our tent, I went down on my girlfriend, who was also a bit drunk and a bit high. We had a lovely time, and then we fell asleep. The next morning, I left the tent to make us breakfast and a friend in our campsite, who was still tripping, took one look at me, screamed and ran away. It seems my girlfriend had come on just before I went down on her, so there was blood caked around my mouth and down my chest. My friend – in his altered state of consciousness – assumed I’d eaten her in the night and was now coming for him.

Sam, 25

I was a student, staying at my boyfriend’s parents’ house. We thought we could eliminate some of the mess by doing it from behind, over a chair. All seemed to go according to plan until the next day, when he and I are lying on the sofa, and his mother comes in holding aloft the pale blue, blood-soaked shirt he’d been wearing when we’d been getting busy. We tried to convince her it was mud, but she was having none of it. I still cringe about it now. It looked like someone had killed a pig in it.

Charlotte, 38

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