Have you ever had sex right after your period and bleeding and wondered how it affects your cycle? You’re not alone, this is a common question and concern among women everywhere, especially if you are noticing abnormalities to your cycle. The short answer is no, sex cannot affect your period. It won’t put an early end to your monthly menses (don’t we wish?), and it won’t make it last longer either. In fact, the only way sex can for sure change your period is if you get pregnant, and then bye-bye periods for at least the next 9 months. Although, the chance you become pregnant while on your period, or even directly after your period, is incredibly slim because it is generally too far from when the average woman ovulates.
Can Sex Impact Your Menstrual Cycle?
While sex right after your period and bleeding, or sex before or during your period, won’t create any major changes there is some wiggle room. That’s because sexual arousal can cause your body to surge in hormones and release oxytocin. Your cycle is all about hormones and so a change in hormones could seemingly impact your period, right? Yet, according to the experts, there’s no simple way to define how these changes could reveal themselves. For the most part, it probably won’t do much.
Factors Related to Sex That May Impact a Menstrual Cycle
While having sex right after your period and bleeding won’t generally impact your cycle, there are a variety of other factors related to intercourse that are far more likely to change or influence your period.
- Hormonal Birth Control: No matter what type of hormonal birth control you take, it will change your menstrual bleeding patterns and greatly reduce the chance you get pregnant. Birth control pills are designed to interfere with the normal rise and fall of certain hormones. When using the pill correctly, fewer than 1 out of 100 women will get pregnant in the span of a year. It is possible to experience spotting or irregular bleeding when you first start hormonal birth control. You may also notice changes to the heaviness or length of your cycle. Overtime, hormonal birth control is intended to make your periods more mild, regular and predictable. Some women also experience a decrease in cramps and other menstrual symptoms.
- Pregnancy: If you are fertile and have sex near or during ovulation, there is always a chance you will conceive. When ovulation takes place is different for everyone, but generally occurs between days 13-15 of a normal 28-day cycle. During ovulation, your ovary releases a follicle known as an oocyte which moves to the fallopian tube where it will remain for 12 to 24 hours. Some women experience an increase in sex drive at this time of the month. Keep in mind, sperm can survive in your body for up to 5 days, which is how you may conceive if you have sex before you ovulate. If the egg becomes fertilized by the sperm and implants in the uterine lining, get ready for a whirlwind of hormonal changes to begin, mainly an increase in progesterone and human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). These hormones will stop the uterine lining from breaking down and shedding, which is where menstrual blood comes from. That means your periods will stop and will not return for the duration of your pregnancy. Breastfeeding may also delay the onset of periods. When your period returns is completely dependent on your body.
- Menopause: Menopause causes a drop in hormones that prevent your period from occurring. Menopause is medically defined as having no menstrual cycle for 12+ months. Before this occurs, your body will go through perimenopause, which translates to “around menopause.” At this time your body will go through hormonal changes and estrogen irregularities that can make your period more infrequent. The average woman will begin the menopausal transition between 45 and 55 years of age. The transition to complete menopause can take anywhere from 7 to 14 years. How long it takes a woman to fully transition will depend on many different lifestyle factors including what age it starts, your race and ethnicity and if you smoke.
- Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs): Unprotected sex (on and off your period) can cause the development of an infection such as chlamydia and trichomoniasis, which can move from the vagina into your reproductive tract organs such as the fallopian tubes or uterus, hence how some STIs can impact fertility. In addition, sexually transmitted infections can change your monthly cycle by causing delayed or missed periods, as well as spotting in between periods.
- Extreme Stress: If you are under a lot of stress it can impact your hormones by affecting the part of your brain in charge of regulating hormones, known as the hypothalamus. As a result, your menstrual cycle can become erratic. Once things calm down and stress levels return to normal, so too should your periods.
When to Seek Professional Help
If you are experiencing irregular periods, having sex right after your period and bleeding is more than likely not to blame. Yet, as described above, there are so many other factors that can cause irregular periods. Some signs it’s time to seek professional help include:
- You notice any major changes to the duration or frequency of your menstrual bleeding. Having a longer cycle here and there isn't as big of a concern as when your period is fluctuating or changing in other ways. For instance, the number of days between your periods is shorter or longer.
- You are bleeding after having intercourse.
- You are spotting between your monthly menses or experiencing other abnormal uterine bleeding.
- It’s been more than 90 days since your last period.
- Your period is not ending, dragging on for weeks.
- You think or know you have an underlying medical issue or are experiencing stress, or another lifestyle trigger.