Can Sex Trigger a Period?

You wake up to blood on the sheets, and your period isn’t supposed to start for another two weeks. Does this mean that you have sex?

The short answer is no, sex can’t change your monthly period in any obvious way unless you get pregnant. But it can help your period start a bit earlier, for a few reasons.

1. Orgasm

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing an orgasm, you know that it’s one of the most pleasurable things the body can do. But, it’s important to note that orgasms can have a variety of causes. For example, some people feel orgasms from stimulating the front wall of their vagina, called the G-spot. Others might orgasm from stimulation of the clitoris or penis. And, of course, there are orgasms that are a combination of all these areas.

Orgasms can occur when a person is alone or with a partner and may last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes. They are the most intense and pleasurable type of sexual climax and can occur during intercourse or self-stimulation. They’re a natural part of the sexual process and are an expression of the body’s innate drive for pleasure and satisfaction.

During orgasm, muscles in the pelvic area, including the anus, uterus and clitoris, contract rhythmically. Those contractions can help your uterus to shed the lining that normally occurs during your menstrual cycle, but they can also happen without sex.

Some women might have sex and start their period within a day or two of having the orgasm, but this is typically just a coincidence. And, if you’re concerned about having your period earlier, it might be helpful to keep track of how long your menstrual cycle usually lasts with a calendar or app like Flo. If your menstrual cycle varies significantly from month to month, you should consult with your OB/GYN.

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2. Vaginal Dryness

During the menstrual cycle, the secretion that usually lubricates the vagina dries up. This dryness may cause itching, burning sensations and pain during sexual intercourse. It can also lead to a loss of sexual desire. If the pain persists, a medical professional can help.

Vaginal dryness may occur as a result of hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle. It can also occur due to certain medications, such as SSRIs and tricyclic antidepressants. These medications alter communication between nerve cells in the vulva, causing the body to produce less natural lubrication.

It is possible to alleviate the symptoms of vaginal dryness by drinking plenty of water, eating a diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and using a natural lubricant. In addition, foreplay can increase blood flow to the vulva and vagina, which can make sex more comfortable.

In the event that you are experiencing painful sex, your doctor can examine your vagina to see if there is thinning of the tissue. They can also recommend a lubricant or hormone therapy if necessary. Hormonal treatment is often helpful for women going through perimenopause or menopause, as it can decrease estrogen levels and reduce pain during sex. You can discuss these options with your doctor during an annual exam, pelvic exam or well-woman visit. They are happy to talk about these concerns and will refer you to a gynecologist if needed.

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3. Infections

Many women who have sex and start bleeding think they’re getting their period, but the truth is it’s probably not. Bleeding after sex is typically caused by direct vaginal penetration (like with a penis or sex toy) or if there’s an infection in the cervix.

Bleeding or spotting after penetrative sex is most likely coming from the cervix, although it could also be coming from the labia, uterus or urethra. Infections such as cervicitis, cervical ectropion or polyps can also cause the condition. In addition, bleeding after sex can be a sign of cervical, vaginal, ovarian or uterine cancer. If you experience spotting or bleeding, a gynecologist will examine your cervix to see if it’s irritated and/or inflamed. They might do a Pap test or colposcopy to get a closer look at your cervix and the tissue around it.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like chlamydia, gonorrhea and trichomoniasis can irritate the cervix and cause bleeding after sex or between periods. Women who have unprotected sex can also develop pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) that can lead to pain, bleeding and unusual discharge or odor. PID left untreated can lead to scar tissue that blocks the fallopian tubes and may affect fertility in the future. If you’re experiencing spotting or bleeding, it’s best to talk to your doctor right away.

4. Ovulation

Ovulation is the release of a mature egg from one of the two ovaries (each woman has two ovaries). If this egg is fertilized by sperm, pregnancy occurs. If the egg is not fertilized, it will break apart and be shed through menstruation. If you are trying to conceive, knowing when you’re likely to ovulate is important. This will help you plan when to have sex and increase your chances of conception.

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Just before ovulation, oestrogen levels are at an all-time high, leading to a sharp rise in luteinizing hormone that causes the fully matured follicle to burst and release the egg. This is typically around day 14 of the 28-day menstrual cycle. The six days leading up to and including ovulation are considered the fertile window, when your chances of getting pregnant are highest.

During this time, your basal body temperature will be lower and you might notice a slight change in your vaginal secretions. Your cervical mucus may become clear, wetter, stretchy and slippery – like raw egg whites. The mucus creates a slippery environment that makes it easier for sperm to swim to the egg and become fertilized. Your cervix is also softer, higher and more open than usual during this time. Some women might even experience abdominal pain around ovulation, called Mittelschmerz. This can be mild or severe and lasts for minutes, hours or a few days.

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