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Sexuality During Your Menstrual Cycle

Does it ever happen to you that there are days when you feel much more sensual or receptive, and others in which the desire to intimate seems to almost completely disappear? That is totally normal and happens due to hormonal changes and other factors directly influence your emotional and sexual life.

To better understand this phenomenon, the best thing to do is to start by defining what sexual desire is. Sexual desire are impulses, thoughts or sensations that lead us to crave pleasure, either by our own hand or with a partner or partners. Sometimes the desire itself makes us feel predisposed to it, even if we don’t fulfill it.

Sexual desire is influenced by an array of factors: our thoughts, perceptions, moods, self-esteem, our beliefs and our culture. Physical factors such as hormones or taking certain medications or other substances can also play a role in our sexuality. It is important not to confuse desire with arousal, which is the physical response of desire and which manifests itself, for example, when our body produces vaginal lubrication, the erection of nipples or increased heart rate, among others.

It is also important to understand that sexual desire does not always precede excitement: sometimes a caress, a massage, an image or an unexpected thought can activate your desire through body arousal. It is also important that you understand that one way is not better than another, both are normal.

  • Before continuing, what happens if you take birth control?

The pills block ovulation so the cycle that is carried out is artificial. Therefore, theoretically there are usually no fluctuations in the libido. But as you now know, desire is influenced by many factors. The truth is that, according to studies on libido and the contraceptive pill, most women who take it report a decrease in sexual desire. Although in some isolated cases, some women say they feel an increase.

The menstrual cycle is composed of several phases and lasts approximately 28 days, although it can last between 21 and 35 days, and remain normal. Various hormones are secreted:

  • Follicle-stimulating hormones (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH), both secreted in response to the GnRH-releasing hormone of the hypothalamus.
  • Ovarian hormones, estrogen and progesterone, which are secreted by the ovaries in response to the hormones FSH and LH.

These hormones are not secreted in constant amounts throughout the cycle. Therefore, from the hormonal point of view, the menstrual cycle is divided into four phases. Here is how sexual desire is manifested in each phase:


  •  Menstrual Phase 

From the moment our period arrives, female sex hormones begin to appear throughout your body. Albeit, very slowly. Still, some women feel this initial discharge and feel the sensation of desire come alive within them. This normally happens because we have high sensitivity throughout our body. But there are also many women who do not  experience this. Because of the low levels of estrogen and progesterone typical of this phase, some women do not have any sexual appetite and even less so if they suffer pain or discomfort. 

This phase carry even more negative weight due to the taboo that surrounds sex during menstration for many people. But no, there is absolutely nothing with having protected sex during this phase, as in it is the other phases. In fact, women claim to have better orgasms and more pleasant sensations during sex than in other phases due to the heightened sensitivity. Orgasms can also relieve and improve menstrual discomfort or pain.

  •  Preovulatory Phase

In this phase, the follicles begin to grow due to the increased activity of the follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) produced in the brain by the pituitary gland. Sexual desire is gradually increasing in this phase because the level of estrogen is rising. Many women feel more focused desires to masturbate in this phase rather than feel desire for intercouse with other people. In this phase, we tend to be more focused, decisive and more efficient, which influences how we experience desire. Be that as it may, remember that your journey with pleasure is your own.

  •  Ovulatory Phase: 

It’s in this phase where the highest point of sexual desire takes place. And also when, biologically, we are most prepared to conceive. We are more flirtatious and receptive to sexual encounters because we have estrogen at its highest peak; and also because the pituitary gland elevates its secretion of luteinizing hormone, which causes ovulation. In this phase you may have more sexual fantasies or thoughts that lead to sex. In fact, the whole body addresses it. Although we may not perceive it, many studies show that our body shows changes that are attractive to others. In this phase, your body produces an "egg white" lubrication that is biologically prepared to facilitate intercourse and give us more pleasure.

  •  Premenstrual Phase: 

Truthfully, unless you are in the middle of falling in love, we don’t normally have a big sexual appetite during the premenstrual phase. The closer we get to the days before menstruation, our progesterone levels increase and estrogen decreases creating a contrary concoction of hormones that can take a toll on our libido. So it’s normal, whether or not we have premenstrual syndrome (PMS) with pain or other physical changes, that our mood changes or we are irritable, as well. The lubricant will improve your sexual experiences in this phase.

If you have never analyzed your sexual desire, I invite you to observe your thoughts and impulses in regards to sex for about three cycles. Listening and observing yourself is the best way to know how you work hormonally and personally. Also, do not forget that there is no good or correct way to carry out sexual desire: only you can determine how often you feel happy and satisfied.


This article is written by
our Expert in Sexology,
Mia Sabat

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