Oftentimes on your period, the only acts of self-love you feel like treating yourself to are Advil, Netflix, elastic-waist pants, and gargantuan tubs of ice cream. But if you haven’t yet given yourself some literal self-love while you’re menstruating, you’re missing out.
Hear us out: Your period is actually a really good time to masturbate. There’s a chance it may help with cramps — and that’s just one of the benefits. (To be clear, masturbating when you aren’t on your period has some health and stress-relieving benefits too. Basically, there’s no reason to be masturbating.) Read on for the lowdown on why you should take some solo time during your time of the month, and how to do so with little mess and max enjoyment.
What are the health benefits of masturbating on your period?
Masturbation in general increases the feel-good neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, which is associated with pleasure and reduced stress, says Dr. Sonia Bahlani, a gynaecologist and pelvic pain specialist in New York City. When you orgasm, the body releases the hormones prolactin and oxytocin, both of which can help you sleep more soundly, she adds. Overall, you’re going to be feeling pretty relaxed afterward. “Oxytocin especially, when released during orgasm, is also thought to lower cortisol — the stress hormone — levels, and therefore give you a sense of relief,” says Dr. Bahlani.
There are also benefits to masturbating on your period specifically. It may feel better, for one. “There’s increased blood flow to the genitals, perhaps even to the clitoris, leading to increased sensitivity and pleasure,” Dr. Bahlani says. Menstrual blood is also a natural lubricant, which will help if you’re using toys during your period, she adds (it’s also another reason to have sex during your period).
And what if you could skip popping an ibuprofen for a bit? Orgasms may also decrease menstrual cramps. With an orgasm, there’s the release of oxytocin — a natural pain reliever that can get rid of some of the worst period cramps.
You might also feel more in the mood during your period. There’s a six-day phase during your monthly cycle in which you might feel super horny, and that time frame coincides with your actual period, according to research from the University of Chicago. This is aptly called the “sexual phase,” and starts three days before the luteinizing hormone, which triggers ovulation, surges during your period. Women in the University of Chicago study going through this phase were not just more sexually active on their periods, but they had more sexual fantasies, too. And while sexual desire was “more robust in women with regular sexual partners,” single women felt it, too, also reporting feeling “less lonely at the time.”
Your libido might seem stronger during your period because of slightly higher levels of sex drive-boosting testosterone coursing through your body, says Dr. Bahlani. “Many people also theorize that there is a subconscious psychological factor at play that increases sex drive — you may be more open to sex during your period because you’re less likely to get pregnant,” she says. Either way, if you’re feeling hornier than usual, scratching that itch with masturbation will feel even better.
So what’s the best way to masturbate on your period?
Depending on your flow, masturbating on your period may be NBD in terms of mess and post-sesh cleanup. But if you do bleed a lot and you’re looking to create as little mess as possible, Dr. Bahlani recommends putting in a tampon or a menstrual cup and focusing on clitoral instead of vaginal stimulation. If you do prefer penetration, you can always take your practice to the tub or shower to minimize clean-up.
When it comes using a toy, you can still go for it — silicone sex toys are Dr. Bahlani’s suggestion for during your period, because they tend to be easier to clean. If it’s a lighter day and you’re not getting natural lubrication from your flow, you can also use a little bit of silicone-based lube for the toys, she adds. Most silicone-based toys can be cleaned simply with soap and water (or a sex toy cleaner, if that’s something you have on hand), and will be good as new for the next time you want to pull them out of your drawer.