You asked whether sex can induce or delay your periods – here’s what the experts say.
Our period cycle absolutely influences our sex life. Throughout the month, we have ebbs and flows in our libido in line with changes in our hormones – we’re more likely to want sexual contact when we’re ovulating, as oestrogen and testosterone peak, than at times when progesterone levels are high, as in the week before our period comes.
But now, people are asking whether sex can impact our periods. The answers are less clear, but given that sex influences our hormones, it’s not out of the question.
“Sex releases feel-good hormones like dopamine and endorphins and the ‘love hormone’ oxytocin that is known to affect bonding behaviour and prolactin, which has been linked to sexual satisfaction. There is also evidence to show it lowers levels of stress hormone cortisol,” says Zoya Ali, scientific research and communications associate at hormone testing service Hertility.
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Can sex induce a period?
Some people report a link between sex and their period starting, but it’s important to know that bleeding after sex isn’t the same as your period. “Sometimes bleeding during or after sex can be due to other reasons, such as friction because of vaginal dryness, an infection and in some rare cases could be linked to gynaecological cancers such as cervical cancer. So it’s important to seek medical advice if you experience these symptoms,” says Ali.
However, there are some instances where sexual activity may result in a period that you weren’t quite expecting. Those with a normal menstrual cycle might notice that they come on a few days earlier than expected after having sexual contact.
“Right before your period, your hormone levels drop to signal to your body that your period is due imminently. Sex at this point in your cycle can sometimes make your period come earlier if it results in orgasm, as this can make your uterus contract and act as a trigger to push out the blood,” Ali explains.
This isn’t because of hormonal changes to your cycle. Simply, if you have gone through the regular cycle of womb lining thickening, an egg being released and progesterone levels increasing, this can just give the extra push for an early bleed.
Those uterus contractions can change your periods in other ways too. As the muscles move, it increases blood flow to the area which can help ease pain. And Ali explains that the endorphins released during sex have a natural pain-relieving effect, helping to soothe cramps.
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When it comes to sex delaying periods, there’s really only one way that works: pregnancy.
However, Ali explains that “taking the emergency contraceptive pill after unprotected sex could also temporarily affect your period. It might make it come earlier, be delayed or be more painful than usual.
“If you’re experiencing a change in the regularity or flow of your periods, it’s important to look into what the underlying cause could be. Common explanations include a switch in your method of contraception, changes in your lifestyle (such as extreme dieting, over-exercising and stress) andunderlying reproductive health conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or thyroid hormone imbalances,” she adds.
As ever, if you are concerned about your period cycles, it’s always best to check in with a doctor.
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