Sex during menstruation may sound gross, but there are some who practice it. We must have heard or come across people who ask how safe sex is during menstruation. It is still a controversial issue.
However, citing some health risks, health experts say it is unsafe to have sexual intercourse when a woman is observing her menstrual period.
The experts note that the act could expose partners to risk of contracting HIV, gonorrhea, hepatitis and other sexually transmitted infections.
According to them, vaginal sexual intercourse with a menstruating woman could lead to an increase in the flow of menstrual blood, because the veins of the uterus are congested and prone to rupture, and thus can be damaged easily.
Speaking during an interview with PUNCH HealthWise, a professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Solomon Avidime, said that engaging in sex during menses is not the best of time, as it could be messy.
Avidime said it also exposes partners to risk of different kinds of sexually-transmitted infections. He added:
“The risk of contracting sexually-transmitted diseases is high during sexual intercourse when the woman is menstruating. It is high in both women and men.
“HIV infection can occur as a negative consequence of sexual intercourse during menses. The risk of contracting gonorrhea and hepatitis is high. So, for the purposes of infection, it is not safe to engage in sex with a woman during her menstruation.”
According to online portal, American Pregnancy, menstruation or a period is the bleeding that occurs when the endometrium is shed 12 to 16 days after ovulation. With this definition of a period, you cannot ovulate while on your period.
However, some women experience mid-cycle or ovulatory bleeding (bleeding that occurs around ovulation) and may mistake it for a period.
“This can happen to women with very irregular cycles coming once every three months or two to three times in one month.
“Mid-cycle bleeding can occur in women with regular cycles as well. They may experience what appears to be a period, but, in reality, this is most likely ovulatory bleeding. Ovulation can occur when you experience mid-cycle or ovulatory bleeding.
“Keep in mind that while you cannot technically ovulate while on a period because sperm can live in the body for three to five days after sex, pregnancy could occur from intercourse that takes place during a period.”
When asked if a woman could ovulate during her menstrual flow or get pregnant at such a period, Avidime said it is remotely possible for a woman to get pregnant during her monthly period if she engages in sexual intercourse.
He said this is especially common among women that have shorter cycles like 21 days or less. He, however, said that ovulation does not occur during menses.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, most women experience a 28-day menstrual cycle.
“This cycle lasts from the first day of menstrual bleeding to the day before bleeding begins the following month.
“The length of the cycle varies between individuals, but is usually between 26 and 32 days long, with 28 days being the average. The most fertile time of the menstrual cycle is between days eight and 19,”
This is even as online portal, MedicineNet, states that sperm can survive in a woman’s reproductive system for up to five days, whether the woman is menstruating or not.
Also, a Consultant Family Physician and Head of Department, Family Medicine Department, University of Ilorin, Kwara State, Dr. Ibrahim Kuranga-Suleiman, notes that it is not hygienically good to have sex during menstruation.
“The man can transfer infection to the woman during sexual intercourse and this can damage her womb. The lining of the vaginal is fragile at that time. So, it is not good,”
He also stated that conception during menstruation is unlikely because there is nothing like ovulation during menstrual period; noting that women trying to conceive by having sex during their menses cannot get result from such trial.
Besides the risk of contracting STIs, some religions frown at sexual intercourse during menstruation.
An Islamic cleric, Imma Shehu Ahmed, told PUNCH that Islam forbids sexual intercourse during menses.
Ahmed, who is in charge of the Alhaji Raheem Olohungbegbe Memorial Mosque, Bariga, Lagos, said,
“Islam frowns at it. When a woman is seeing her menses, she is not allowed to come to the mosque to pray until she is done.”
But a pastor with the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Israel Afolabi, said there is no place in the scriptures that forbids sexual intercourse during menstruation. According to Afolabi,
“There is no place in the Bible that states that women should not have sex during menses. But in some cultures, some women do not go to church when they are having their menstrual flow. They feel that they are unclean.”
According to Medical News today, there is a risk of infection when having oral, anal, or vaginal sex, or any form of skin-to-skin genital contact — even during menstruation.
“Unless a person uses birth control or has a same-sex partner, there is also a risk of pregnancy when having sex during menstruation,”
the medium warned.