Does Being Sexually Active Make Your Period Worse?

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Doctors need to know if you’re sexually active so they can test you for Sexually Transmitted Diseases and/or give you a Pap smear. They’re referring to any form of intimate contact with another person, such as manual or oral sex and anal sex.

Research shows that your libido may peak around ovulation as estrogen rises, but doesn’t necessarily affect your menstrual cycle. However, sex does impact your pain threshold and hormone levels.

Increased Cortisol

The steroid hormone cortisol is produced by your two adrenal glands (one on each kidney) and helps regulate blood pressure and fight off stress. However, too much cortisol can be unhealthy. It also interferes with the production of other hormones, including those that control your menstrual cycle.

Cortisol levels change throughout the day and are controlled by an elaborate feedback system involving your hypothalamus gland, pituitary gland and adrenal glands, called the HPA axis. During sexual activity, the release of oxytocin, a naturally occurring hormone that can lead to orgasms, may temporarily increase cortisol levels. However, the brain quickly sends signals to reduce these elevated levels once sex is over.

People who have sex regularly tend to have regular menstrual cycles, and they may experience a reduction in PMS symptoms. The libido tends to peak around ovulation, which happens about 2 weeks before the start of your period. And, because blood acts as a natural lubricant, having sex can be just as pleasurable during your period as it is at any other time.

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It’s important to remember that if you have unprotected sex during your period, it can lead to STIs and pregnancy, which is why it’s always a good idea to use a condom when having sex. It’s also a good idea to use a backup method of birth control if you’re worried about STIs or getting pregnant.

Increased Oxytocin

There is a lot of information out there about how sex affects your menstrual cycle. Some of it is true and some of it is not.

For instance, having sex releases oxytocin, the “love hormone” that promotes feelings of connection and trust. This is important for bonding with others, and it is also responsible for helping women deliver babies and breastfeed. Oxytocin levels rise when you cuddle with a baby or pet your dog, but they also increase when you have physical intimacy with another person like in the case of sex.

However, having sex does not impact the length of your menstrual cycle. That is determined by hormone fluctuations and other factors, such as stress. The one exception is that if you have unprotected sex right before ovulation, it increases your chances of getting pregnant, because the ovary releases an egg and the progesterone levels in the uterus rise.

This can cause a period to come on earlier, which is why some people experience bleeding after sex. However, this isn’t because of a hormonal change, but because the sex was intense enough to trigger an orgasm and that causes the uterus to contract and push out blood. Orgasms also release feel-good hormones that can decrease symptoms such as cramping.

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Vasocongestion

Vasocongestion is the swelling of the tissue in the body due to increased vascular blood flow and a local increase in blood pressure. It occurs for a number of reasons such as REM sleep, sexual arousal, illness, certain allergic reactions and emotions. In adults, vasocongestion also occurs during menstruation. It is an essential aspect of the uterus lining shedding process. Vasocongestion can be very painful for some women.

During sexual arousal, vasodilation increases in the genital area. This causes the nipples, labia and clitoris to become enlarged. This allows for the proper lubrication of the vulva and breasts. It can also lead to orgasm. Unfortunately, vasocongestion can be dysfunctional in some people leading to a variety of problems. The temporary vasocongestion of the cheeks of the face is known as blushing and is caused by certain emotions such as anger or embarrassment. The illness of rosacea is a chronic form of facial vasocongestion. Vasocongestion around the human rectal area leads to the formation of hemorrhoids.

The dysfunctional vasocongestion that can occur during sexual arousal in men and women may result in the cramp-like pain of blue balls in males and an unpleasant pelvic heaviness in females. It can also cause an imbalance in the lubrication of the nipples and clitoris. In post-menopausal women, this can cause a lack of lubrication during sexual activity. This can lead to pain during sex and require the use of a lubricant.

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Mood Swings

While occasional mild to moderate mood changes are normal, it is important to note if your moods are consistently severe and affecting your quality of life. These mood changes may indicate an underlying health issue or mental health disorder that requires treatment.

Mood changes can occur due to various reasons, including hormone fluctuations, diet and sleep disturbances, stressors, weather conditions, medications, substance use and more. If you think your mood changes are due to a physical health condition, then your doctor will likely recommend psychotherapy, medication or a combination of the three to help alleviate your symptoms.

Females are particularly prone to hormonal fluctuations that can lead to mood swings, especially during menstruation, pregnancy and perimenopause. In fact, more than 90% of women report some PMS symptoms such as anxiety and depression. The severity of these symptoms can increase with the development of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), which causes feelings of intense irritability, sadness, and anxiety during the onset of the menstrual period.

Similarly, men’s hormones tend to remain stable until age 30, when testosterone levels begin to decrease and can cause erectile problems, hot flashes, and a loss of libido. If your mood changes are not related to a physical health issue, then you should consult a psychologist for psychotherapy and other treatment options. Symptoms of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, can also lead to mood swings and other symptoms that should be addressed by your doctor.

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