Sexual activity during menstruation: a qualitative study

J Sex Res. 2009 Nov-Dec;46(6):535-45. doi: 10.1080/00224490902878977.


This study utilized a grounded theory method to analyze qualitative narratives about sexuality and menstruation from 108 young women (ages 18-23; M = 19.8, SD = 1.07) and 12 young men (ages 18-24; M = 20.4, SD = 1.46). Five patterns were found: Sixteen women identified themselves as virgins and had not faced the issue of negotiating sex during menstruation. Among the 92 women who said they were sexually active, 37 women said they would never have intercourse during menstruation, eight women said they tried it once but never would again, and seven women said they rarely would and only under certain conditions. The largest group, 40 women, said they do have menstrual sex. Compared to the other groups, more of the women who do have sex during menstruation were in committed relationships, and none espoused a discourse of disgust. Considering the 12 men, three were virgins. Among the nine sexually experienced men, seven said they did have sex with a menstruating partner. Young adults who were comfortable with menstrual sex saw it as just another part of a committed intimate relationship.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Coitus / psychology*
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Humans
  • Marriage / psychology
  • Menstruation / psychology*
  • Narration
  • Sexual Abstinence / psychology
  • Sexual Behavior*
  • Shame
  • Young Adult