Just as our mood can change as our hormones fluctuate throughout our cycle - so can our sex drive and desire. But you deserve to have great sex at each phase of your cycle and to have more pleasure, more confidence and more fun with your partner (or on your own!)
Today 3 experts share their advice on cycle syncing your sex life…
Meet Your Cycle Sex Experts
Phase 1 - Menstruation
Let’s Talk Period Sex
The start of our menstrual cycle is the first day of our period. Around this time you might not be feeling your sexiest, but did you know that orgasms can help to relieve menstrual cramps?! Whether you are looking for a particularly pleasurable form of pain relief, or simply feel a spike in your sex drive around this time, a desire for sex during your period is not something you should be ashamed of.
Here’s our expert’s tips on period sex…
If you don’t feel like sex while on your period, don’t do it! But if you find you are horny but shame stops you from playing, what a waste!
Whether partnered or solo, giving yourself sexual pleasure at this time can also feel like an epic act of self-acceptance and self-love, especially if you’ve struggled with it in the past. Remember sex doesn’t have to include penetration. If your flow is very heavy and a towel or blanket won’t cut it, or you just don't fancy penetration, this is an opportunity to enjoy something different.
To end the shame around period sex we have to normalise the experience. Conversations with our partners are so important in helping us gauge what everyone is comfortable with, what stage of our period we're at and what we'd still like to explore together.
The truth is that nothing inherently changes about the sexual play other than the fact that there may be more fluids to account for than usual! You can play in the shower or you can lay a towel or splash blanket down to minimise the clean-up. For oral, you can leave a tampon or menstrual cup in to minimise leakage!
When it comes to sex when you are bleeding. What are your concerns? If it’s the mess, try having sex in the shower, using a towel or wait until you’re on a lighter flow day. If it’s shame, remember that periods are a natural part of life for half the population. Bleeding happens!
If you’re unsure if it’s right for you, think about your boundaries. For some it’s a hard no, for others, it’s a hard yes - and maybe you're somewhere in the middle. If you give it a try and it’s not for you, you can stop. Consent is reversible, you can remove it at any time!
A quick note on painful sex…
Whilst sex can be very fun, we also know that for some people it can be painful and uncomfortable. This might be associated with changes throughout your menstrual cycle or it could be linked to conditions like endometriosis, adenomyosis or fibroids.
If you’re struggling with painful sex, always consult your doctor, but here’s some advice from our experts in managing it within your relationship.
Different penetrative sex positions can feel more or less comfortable depending on where we are in our cycle. For example, deep doggy style can feel great one week but painful the next.
Try changing positions if it’s uncomfortable. Always speak up about pain, otherwise, you risk going into a negative spiral where fear of pain makes you tense up, making pain more and more likely.
If you're experiencing unwanted pain during penetrative sex, you should share that with your partner. Any good partner is not going to enjoy having sex with you while you're experiencing discomfort!
Open up the conversation around how you can work together to explore what feels good for everyone involved and how you can all get our needs for physical intimacy met in other ways.
Remember that penetrative sex isn’t the only type of sex. In fact, with around 80% of those with vulvas orgasming through clitoral stimulation as opposed to penetrative sex, p in v sex is often only benefitting the half of the population with penises! However, If penetrative is what you want but it’s painful, look for dilators to help with pain as well as products like Ohnut.
Phases 2 & 3 - Follicular and Ovulation
Initiating Sex When Your Libido Is High
As we move towards ovulation, our oestrogen levels rise and that can make us feel fun and flirty - and boost our libido! Our sex drive often peaks in our fertile window (the days surrounding ovulation), although, of course, everyone’s cycle and libido are unique.
If you notice a spike in sexual desire around this time, here’s some advice on how to make the most of it and communicate about desire to your partner…
If you track your cycle add a note of when you feel most horny. If you then spot a trend, you can plan sex adventures for when you know you’ll most likely be in the mood to try something new!
In surveys, around 80% of people say they’d welcome a partner suggesting something new in bed, but only 20% say they would initiate something new. That’s a lot of bedrooms which could become much spicier if one partner was brave enough to make a suggestion! If talking about sex is new to you and you feel shy, share this with your partner. Chances are they feel the same and together you can help each other gently open up.
Some partners love a good and simple "hey, wanna have sex?" but others need more of a warm-up because it can otherwise feel like a pressure to perform or they just want to be romanced a little first. it's a great idea to have a conversation with your partner about how you each like to do the initiating and to receive the initiating.
Be creative and flexible with it, but just like the concept of love languages, knowing what each other responds well to increases our chances of our needs being met!
Initiating sex is hot. For many, it’s a real turn-on But it’s important to understand the difference between arousal and desire. Heightened arousal is physical, and can be impacted by our hormones. Desire changes through life, depending on what we have going on. Communicating how we can increase desire in our relationships is vital for positive long-term sexual experiences.is it a lack of desire or do you not have the mental capacity for sex currently because you are not helped with the mental load?
Phase 4 - Luteal Phase
Maintaining Intimacy When Your Libido Is Lower
After ovulation, our oestrogen levels drop and progesterone becomes dominant. During this time we can often feel sensitive and fatigued - and sex may not feel like a priority. How can we maintain intimacy in our relationship during this time, whilst removing the pressure for sex if we’re just not feeling it? Our experts have some advice…
Our libido naturally rises and falls, it’s totally normal, so don’t give yourself a hard time if you’re not in the mood. When your libido has gone AWOL, you can still maintain intimacy. Cuddling, kissing and massage might feel especially good.
The key to this is communicating with a partner. Make it clear if you are not up for sexual play but would value some loving intimacy, so you can relax and enjoy that and not worry they are going to try to initiate something more.
All bodies are deserving of pleasure no matter what part of your cycle you're in. My go-to recommendations for those wanting to dip their toe in but not necessarily wanting to be touched in that sexual way are reading erotic stories to each other, talking about your fantasies or planning your next play session together, talk about what you want to try or explore together. Stimulate your brains instead!
If you do want to get physical, you could even invite some lower-level activities like making out, a massage or dry humping.
When your libido is low it’s still a good idea to touch each other, without it just meaning you want sex. Those little intimate touches throughout the day - once normalised as a habit - can build our subconscious desire. This helps when your hormones are low and you just need time to reconnect. This time spent investing in your relationship emotionally actually increases desire for later on!