THE SEX FILES


I just started using a menstrual cup this summer and I really love it. When I used to wear tampons I would have sex with my boyfriend on my period and it was fine. Can I have sex while wearing a menstrual cup?

I will assume that we are talking about vaginally penetrative sex here. And yes, if whatever kind of sex you are having feels nice and you are comfortable with it, you are probably good to go. But in case you have questions about the logistics of safety, let’s review the functions of menstrual products in relationship to anatomy.

When a body menstruates, blood is released from the cervix into the vaginal canal. The blood is trying to leave the body, meaning that it will then be released from the vaginal canal into the world. In order to mitigate a free-flow of blood out of the vaginal canal at any and all inopportune moments, menstrual products are used to absorb or catch the blood so that it can be disposed of at set intervals more convenient to the individual who is menstruating.

Tampons are dense cotton forms which are inserted into the vaginal canal and are designed to absorb the blood that is present in the vaginal canal. They can be different sizes depending on the choice of the person wearing it and how heavy the blood flow is. It could be totally fine to have vaginally penetrative sex while wearing a tampon, but remember that it is in there and promptly remove it after intercourse. A risk involved in having vaginally penetrative sex with a tampon inside is that it can be pushed very far down into the vaginal canal or pushed into an area behind the pelvic bone, making it hard to remove. Also, if the wearer has a sensitive cervix, having a small floating object (the tampon) being rubbed against it or pummeled into it could create discomfort or irritation. Then there is the added consideration that the tampon’s job is to absorb liquid blood—therefore it will also absorb any wetness in the vagina, including bodily-secreted lubricant or added synthetic lubricant; meaning, the vagina has a strong possibility of being dryer than you would otherwise expect, so plan accordingly!

A menstrual cup is usually made from silicone, plastic, or gum rubber. It is inserted into the vaginal canal, and if it is working properly, it will create a seal around the cervix so the blood that exits the cervix drips directly into the cup. When the cup is full, the wearer can remove the cup and dump the blood out. The suction is not supposed to be so strong that it would be difficult to remove; and in fact, different cup designs exist for stronger or lighter suction depending on the needs of the person wearing it. Menstrual cups also come in different sizes to accommodate the anatomy of the wearer, as well as their type of flow. Because of this, some cups are more shallow and some are longer. The shape of the cup as well as the placement of the cervix will determine where the cup ends up sitting in the vaginal canal and whether it would be (a) possible and (b) comfortable for the wearer to receive penetration. You also want to be careful that the cup is not knocked out of place by the penetrating object (penis, toy, or fingers) because then the purpose of collecting the blood is defeated, as you have essentially spilled the cup. A benefit of wearing a cup during sex is that if it is not moved, it creates a protective barrier around the cervix if you don’t like your cervix touched. Also, because the materials the cup is made from are non-porous, it won’t absorb lubrication naturally produced by the body or added topically.

Deep penetration or hard thrusting would not be comfortable while wearing any sort of internal menstrual product. But if you enjoy shallow penetration or G-spot stimulation (which is generally located 1.5 to 2 inches inside the vaginal canal) these activities are pretty compatible with wearing a menstrual cup. Also, external stimulation on or around the vulva is also possible and has a very low chance of disturbing the menstrual product.

Because it comes up more often than I would expect, wearing a tampon or menstrual cup during penis/vagina penetrative sex is not an adequate form of birth control, nor does it have any value as a prevention method for sexually transmitted diseases. Everything is still getting all mixed up together and there is no real barrier present between various bodily fluids and mucus membranes. Condoms, both latex and non-latex, would be compatible with either cotton, silicone, plastic, or gum rubber, meaning that there would not be any adverse reaction from those materials coming into contact with one another, making it safe and possible to use condoms during this sex act.

So yes, it is both possible and safe to have sex with your boyfriend while wearing a menstrual cup. You might want to play around with various positions for comfort and to make sure the cup is not knocked out of place. But other than that, go forth and have great period sex!

My girlfriend wants me to talk dirty to her while we’re having sex but I don’t really know what to say that doesn’t sound cheesy. I’m not that talkative during sex to begin with, so making up performative things to say seems extra contrived and odd. Is it possible to learn how to do dirty talk that doesn’t make me feel like I’m in a bad porno?

Yes, it is possible to learn how to talk dirty! I can’t guarantee that you won’t experience a bit of self-consciousness; but just like any skill, if you practice it, it becomes easier.

In order to familiarize yourself with dirty talk, I recommend finding written erotica that you like. I say written erotica over porn because you can really absorb the words in erotica and go back to read and reread passages that do it for you. Watching porn or trying to mimic what you are watching means that you are more likely to compare your delivery of the line to the delivery made by the sex professional for whom, “Suck my cock!” naturally rolls off the tongue as easily as you ordering a french-fry po-boy. Try reading the passages out loud so that you hear the erotic words in your own voice. Play around with how you say the words and where your emphasis is. Some words or phrases may fall flat, but I bet you will find a few that resonate with you. Now try reading the erotica out loud to your girlfriend. You may be tempted to laugh or make light of the situation, but try to stay in the moment as much as possible.

Another way to approach dirty talk is to narrate your sexual activities with your girlfriend. “I’m going to ________” is both a way to engage in dialogue about what’s going to be happening (Informed Consent!) and also dirty talk. As you get more comfortable with the narration, you can add adjectives and nouns to make it even filthier. “I’m going to ________, you naughty girl!” or “Do you want me to ________ your beautiful tits?” are both examples of direct dirty talk engagement, but with very different tones. I generally think it is a good idea to talk with your girlfriend about what words turn her on and which words make her cold. Know what kind of mood you are going for in the bedroom. It is hard to recover from an accidental insult in the throes of passion, so do what you can to prevent perfectly avoidable bad feelings.

The dirty narration should help you feel more comfortable being vocal in the bedroom. Once you’ve gotten over your shyness in that department, you can begin to play around with euphemisms. Make a thesaurus of naughty words that refer to various body parts and sex acts. This does take a bit of work and a lot of imagination, but can help keep things fresh. Start a text thread with your girlfriend where you both add all of the sexual euphemisms that you can think of and use this as a base for your dirty talk. It is really silly and will probably make you laugh, which is not antithetical to sexy times, but in fact can help you relax and put you in a better position, mentally speaking, to fully enjoy your sexual encounter.

I hope these tips help you bring more spoken smut into the bedroom!


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illustrations by Ruth Mascelli