Welcome Tyra Viewers: Periods and Sex

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Today I appeared on the Tyra Banks Show (that’s me on the left), along with two OB/GYNS, talking about periods, tampons, sex and more. It seemed like a good time to highlight some additional questions that I commonly receive about periods and that perhaps you have too. For example:

What should I do if my period flow is super heavy? Like I soak through my underwear and stain my sheets at night and go through lots of pads each day of my period?

If your flow is that heavy, please check in with a healthcare provider and/or get a second opinion if you’re not satisfied with your provider’s response. You may have fibroids (benign/non-cancerous growths in the uterus that cause heavy bleeding) or, depending on your age and hormonal status, you may even be starting to go through menopause. Also, if you are losing a lot of blood, you may have very low iron levels (anemia) which can make you feel tired. Consider checking in with a healthcare provider to see if you should be taking iron supplements as well.

What should you do if a tampon gets stuck inside of you?

Although it may seem like the tampon is lost, it isn’t really lost. It’s just slightly out of reach. The vagina is not a big, gaping black hole from outerspace – it’s actually a very small part of our bodies and it’s only about 3 or 4 inches long, unless a woman is feeling sexually excited (then it grows to about 5 or 6 inches long).

To get the tampon out, try sitting on the toilet, or laying back on your bed with your knees bent in a comfortable position. Simply reach inside your vagina with one or two fingers and feel around for the string or the tampon itself, and pull it out. If you find it difficult or uncomfortable to pull it out, putting some water-based lubricant or even olive oil on your fingers can make them more slippery and easier to insert. If you can’t find it, don’t be afraid to ask your healthcare provider to remove it – you wouldn’t be the first woman to ask for help and it’s certainly better than leaving it inside your body, which could cause irritation or infection if left it for too long.

Can you get pregnant during your period?

Yes. It’s rare for women to become pregnant during their period, but it can happen, so don’t assume that having a period means you’re protected from pregnancy risk. Some women release more than one egg per month, or they release eggs at unpredictable times of the month, such as during their period. If you’ve got an egg, and then add some sperm to the mix, you may very well end up with a baby, so use birth control if you’re not ready to get pregnant yet.

How do you put a tampon in?

I actually wrote a post about this some time ago – read more about tampon use here.

Can you have sex while you’re on your period?

Yes, you can – that is, if you and your partner decide it’s something you want to do. Some couples lay a towel down on the bed and go for it. Other women keep a tampon in and only go for oral sex, vibrator play or other types of non-penetrative sex play. There is a slightly higher risk of passing sexually transmissible infections (STI) during a woman’s period so make sure to use condoms or dental dams if infection is a concern. Otherwise, have fun! Sex can be a fun form of exercise and a decent way to alleviate menstrual cramps if that’s an issue for you.

If you have additional questions about sex, love, relationships, or your body, feel free to email me at drdebby@mysexprofessor.com.

Related MSP Posts:
- Pregnancy and Sex: Sex Positions, Safer Sex and More (The Tyra Banks Show, May 2009)
- How to Use Vaginal Dilators to Treat Vaginismus (The Tyra Banks Show, May 2009)
- What’s Up Down There? Learning The Parts of the Vulva (The Tyra Banks Show, November 2008)

About Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick is a sex researcher at Indiana University, sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, columnist, and author of five books about sex and love. Learn more about her work at www.sexualhealth.indiana.edu.