5 min read
by Arielle Egozi | 04/05/2018
I have period trauma. Many of us period-having folk probably do — that’s what happens when you grow up in a society where a very normal, routine thing that happens to your body is seen as dirty, shameful, gross, and something to hide.
However, when you’re a person with a period who has shed all the layers of societal shame, it can be particularly tough when your partner is, like… not that into it. And *not that into it* can feel pretty terrible when you’re trying to connect with your partner physically and they’re being all period-shamey.
Because this is v sensitive and often difficult terrain to navigate, I brought in my good friend Louise Head, a sex educator, relationships expert, and an associate marriage and family therapist to guide us through having an open and honest conversation with a partner who is, shall we say, period-averse.
Here’s what my girl Louise suggests for talking to your period-averse partner about period sex:
If you are feeling uncomfortable with how your partner treats your period, it’s really helpful to have a plan for what you want to communicate to your partner before you approach them. This can help you feel more confident, especially when talking about a topic that might feel vulnerable or personal to you. Take a moment to think about these things:
What do you desire? (Maybe you want to have more orgasms during your period, or you’d like your partner to change the way they talk about your period.)
What do you want your partner to understand and what do you want them to do differently in the future? (Would you like them to initiate sex more while you’re on your period? Maybe you’d like them not to use derogatory language when talking about menstruation?)
Having facts can be helpful for normalizing this conversation with your partner. For example, as long as you are still using proper contraception, there is no health-related reason not to have sex during your period. Also, lots of people have sex during their period (according to one survey, up to 80%).
Similarly, lots of people think period sex is totally natural and awesome, especially younger generations. If neither you nor your partner have any STIs, there is no risk of transmitting STIs during period sex. If you, the person with the period, do have an STI that can be transmitted through blood, hopefully you’ve discussed what barriers and protections need to be in place for all sex acts, not just period sex.
It can be helpful to connect the period-shaming you feel in your relationship to our dominant cultural narrative.
You can start by simply saying, “Culture has always taught us, even me, that periods are gross, but that’s not true. Periods are a part of life, often an important one. It would mean a lot to me if we both worked against that culture in our relationship.”
Culture doesn’t excuse your partner if they approach periods in a negative, body-shaming way, but identifying negative cultural impacts and offering alternatives can invite your partner to team up with you *against* oppressive culture rather than pitching them as the bad guy who says the bad things. How they respond to this invitation might tell you how open they are to feedback and to growing their consciousness.
In addition to general negative messages, there are cultural myths that could be misinforming. For example, periods are often thought of as dirty but what does that mean? People without periods might think there is an actual risk to interacting with period blood, but they may have no idea what that risk would be. Yes, blood, like any other bodily fluids such as semen, saliva, or vaginal fluid, does have the potential to transmit disease *if* your partner has a disease. Getting tested for STIs and having a consensual plan for how you and your partner will protect against STI transmission is important for alllll types of sex that might involve the exchange of fluids.
It can be helpful to talk about issues in a solution-based way rather than a problem-based way. So instead of saying, “Why don’t you ever touch me on my period?” you can say, “Hey, I would love it if you touched me more when I was on my period, it still feels really good!” Share the vision of how you want things to look different in your relationship/sex life.
If you’re feeling shamed by *anyone* for having a period, or wanting sex on your period, it’s important to have a self-care routine so you stay positive and proud.
Find a menstruating community! There’s nothing like knowing that you’re not alone, you’re not weird, and you’re not gross for having a period.
Do you. Cultivate awareness of what makes *you* feel good on your period. If you suffer from bad cramps, do you need to allow yourself to lay on the couch with a heating pad and watch reruns of your favorite show? If you’re more horny than usual during your period, will you have time and space to masturbate? Give yourself permission to be the expert on how your period affects you and then treat yourself accordingly.
Have you ever had a period-averse partner? How did they make you feel? Were you able to change their perspective on periods? Share your experiences below!
Dr. Brandi Jones, DO is a board certified Obstetrician Gynecologist serving some of the most vulnerable residents of the District of Columbia in a community health center based practice. She is a graduate of Hampton University, and earned her medical degree from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Jones is an outdoor cycling novice with big goals, and enjoys international travel experiences.
by Arielle Egozi