For many people, talking about sex is kind of embarrassing. When we do talk about it, we tend to make it into a pretty act: You know, there are sparks flying and white curtains billowing in the wind and candles making everybody’s skin all golden and glowing. We definitely don’t get into the messier parts of sex, like the sounds and the fluids and the accidental elbow-to-the-head. Combine our desire to make sex all gorgeous and simple with our terror of admitting that periods exist, and it makes it all but impossible to talk about the two together. In a world where lots of people never even get a sex talk, when are people supposed to learn anything about period sex?
We talk about sex and periods in a way not too different from the way that we talk about women’s bodies. We make them as clean and palatable for the masses as we can, and we certainly only talk about the pretty parts. For periods, this basically means zero chatter about them at all (except for in feminist spaces, of course). For sex, this means the above sex-is-shiny-and-beautiful sham.
For girl’s and women’s bodies, this means masking any perceived “flaws.” Just think about the messaging you see over and over in popular media: We talk about how to hide certain body parts using certain styles of clothing, we talk about clearing up skin and removing hair, and we talk about lightening skin and straightening hair. We’re pushing sex, periods, and bodies, all completely natural things, toward this “perfect” ideal that doesn’t exist.
My relationship with my own body has always been kind of wishy-washy. Sometimes, when I’m at my best, I love my body. I think I’m beautiful. I’m proud of every inch of my skin and every curl on my head and every hair that sprouts from my legs. Other times, though, I hate my body. And often times, I hate my period. But what I don’t hate? Sex.
When I finally had a partner who wanted to try out period sex, I was terrified. I’d managed for so long to keep sex as this pretty, shiny thing where I wore pretty underwear and shaved my armpits and definitely did not have my period. But the time had come for me to step back and admit that my body wasn’t all nice and shiny. My body got a period, which meant I needed to deal.
Finally having period sex was transformative for me. It made me realize that sex could be messy and not sparkly and shiny. It was like stripping away the mask I’d been using to cover my body; by embracing my period, I was learning to embrace my body and everything that came with it. I realized that it was ridiculous to hide from my partner when I was wearing a massive pad and stained underwear and hadn’t shaved anything in a week because I was too busy crying over a heating pad and Netflix. If I was loved in lace, I could be loved in period panties.
And I learned that it was time to love myself in period panties just as much as I loved me in lingerie, too.
Cover image courtesy of Shutterstock.