Period sex is a surprisingly divisive topic, according to a new survey by Flex, a new company that’s formulating a device that will allow women to have intercourse with less mess when it’s that time of the month. Out of 500 men and women, nearly half called period sex “gross” or “pretty gross,” while a little over half—55 percent—actually consider it “natural” or “awesome.”
Not shockingly, the demographics who are more into (or at least OK with) it are millennials, bi-, pan-, and polysexuals, as well as folks who consider themselves more “spiritual” than religious. On the other hand, the ones more grossed out by period sex tend to be people ages 40 to 49, straight, and Christian.
“Millennials are more culturally and politically diverse than generations past,” Lauren Schulte, founder and CEO of The Flex Company told us. “We’re better educated and more open-minded, which allows us to be more open to different belief systems and lifestyle. If you’re open to learning about how period sex is safe and clean, you’re more likely open to trying it yourself.”
She added that regardless of demographic, people have generally become more open to this kind of sex in recent years—although there are, of course, some people who still perceive it negatively. “Period sex has long been stigmatized due to a number of cultural and religious factors,” she says. “Many people still believe it’s dangerous or immoral, but education is helping to reverse blanket discrimination against women on their periods, including during sex.”
Still, talking about it—and dealing with the mess and logistics—can feel awkward, or like a turn-off. The survey also found that women are twice as likely as men to avoid having sex with a new partner when during menstruation. “Women have told us they feel embarrassed by the mess and ‘ruining the moment’ with a conversation,” says Schulte. “Other women say their vaginas feel more sore or sensitive during their periods. Studies have shown that tampons can cause swelling and minor tears in vaginal walls.”
And yet, so many of us still do it in spite of the discomfort, mess, and awkwardness: Despite almost half of the respondents thinking period sex is gross, the survey found that 80 percent of them had done it anyway. That might be thanks to the fact that our periods make us want sex. “A woman’s hormones are full-throttle during this time, which makes many of us very horny,” explains Schulte.
If you do decide to go for it, remember that this can be a bonding moment with your partner—not to mention an opportunity to see how they handle stuff like this. (Because life is messy, dammit!) “It’s a good litmus test to see how your partner reacts,” says Schulte. “If he or she is supportive and understanding, that says something good about them. It can be an opportunity to get closer.” Oh, and if you really want to avoid staining your white sheets, we have a few pointers for safe shower sex.