How your period cycle affects your sex drive

By Lea Rose Emery

Normally when you think about your cycle, you think about periods — and all the fun things that go with them. Like cramps and hot water bottles and wanting to eat all of the chocolate but also maybe vegan fried chicken and have a good cry. Or maybe that’s just me. But there’s actually a much more fun part of your cycle that you might have noticed — how it affects sex drive. If you’re anything like me, you’ll find that before you get your period you go through a few days where you’re so horny that you can’t concentrate on anything else. Like, anything else. As in, you can’t focus at work and you start walking into telephone poles. Well, it turns out there’s a reason for that. And you can thank your hormones.

The same hormones that help your body grow a uterine lining and release an egg can wreak havoc on your sex drive. So if you’ve ever felt that your libido is a total rollercoaster over the course of the month, you may be onto something. The way our hormones are released means that our desires can vary hugely from week to week — or even day to day. Here’s what you need to know about how your cycle affects your sex drive- because the effects can be huge. 

You’re not imagining it, you're getting hornier 

Yup, the horniness is real. And it’s all about your ovulation window. The ovulation period, when your body is preparing to release your egg from your ovaries. During this window, which normally occurs around 12-16 days before your period arrives, there are a lot of hormones being released into your system. And these hormones, well... they make you want to bone everything in sight, delicately speaking. “A woman’s libido is highest during what I describe as her fertility window, which can vary by a couple of days here and there,” Dr. Shannon Chavez, a sex therapist and licensed clinical psychologist, told Stylecaster. “This usually starts anywhere from two to four days before ovulation and several days after, and is caused by a surge of the hormones that can lead to a stronger desire, especially testosterone.” 

And it’s not just you feel the need to jump everything that moves. During ovulation, you also send out signs that you’re ready to mate, through pheromones. “A surge in hormones during ovulation along with pheromones, which are chemical messengers that send out signals to attract a mate, will increase a woman’s drive for sex and desirability for a partner,” Dr Chavez said. So you may be giving off a bit of all that sexual energy that you’re feeling. Don’t think of it as your body being in mating mode, just think of it as an extra layer of attraction. 

But what goes up must come down 

Your cycle giveth and your cycle taketh away. Along with being extra horny during your most hormonal periods, you’re also less horny during your less hormonal periods. During the days around your period and after it finishes, you’ll be at your least hormonal and, well, your least horny. Don’t worry, it all come back around — as is the nature of the cycle. 

Some things can interfere with this cycle 

Now, this increase and decrease in sex drive is assuming that you have a fairly regular cycle and that you’re not altering it in any real way. Some women have found their birth control can have a huge effect on their sex drive, so if you’re taking any kind of birth control, especially a hormonal one, this pattern might not sound like you. Many women find that the pill lowers their libido throughout the whole month, so you might not feel the same surges as women who aren’t on the pill. Also women who have irregular periods may not notice the ups and downs as any sort of pattern, because they won’t happen as regularly. 

And there are other good reasons to have sex on your period 

OK, fun fact — whether you’re hormonally horny or not, I know a lot of women who get horny AF on their periods. And it’s not really anything to do with their cycle — it’s the fact that they know that orgasms help period cramps and that everything is extra sensitive and extra fun at that time of the month. So, unscientifically speaking, there may be a reason you want to have sex when you’re on your period. Although there’s a scientific benefit to that as well — orgasms on your period make you expel your uterine lining faster and can actually shorten the length of your period. That’s definitely a persuasive argument from where I’m sitting. 

Your period can feel like it totally takes over your life — especially if you have bad PMS or really intense cramps that can leave you feeling incapacitated. But at getting a little peak in horniness is like a little bonus round for your body. Think of it as your cycle giving back. Sure, you get cramps and bleeding, but for part of the month, you feel like a sexy effing sex machine, so that’s something. 

Cover Image Source: Lea Brisell (follow her art on Instagram & on her website)

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