does sex drive increase during period

How Does Sexual Arousal Change Across the Menstrual Cycle?

The menstrual cycle is divided into four phases—each of which are distinctly different. 

And during each phase, there are a lot of hormonal ups and downs, especially with the hormones estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone

Now these changes in hormones can bring about all sorts of moods, behaviors, cravings, energy or lack thereof, motivation, and more. 

But then, do hormonal changes also affect levels of arousal and sexual desire? Indeed it does. 

How does sexual arousal change throughout your menstrual cycle?

Everyone’s sex drive and motivation is different, and what’s “normal” for you may not be “normal” for someone else. 

Plus, there are a ton of other factors that can influence someone’s arousal: their sleep schedules, levels of stress, connection with a partner, and more. 

All of this aside, sex hormones definitely play a big role in helping, or hindering, your levels of arousal and desire.

How so? Let’s first take a look at the sex hormones…

  • Estrogen: keeps the vaginal tissue lubricated and plump, increases desire, and makes sexual activity more pleasurable. 
  • Progesterone: induces a calming mood and better sleep, and reduces symptoms of PMS. But, when progesterone is high, it can lower one’s sex drive. 
  • Testosterone: spikes at the same time as estrogen (mid-cycle) and together, boosts sex drive and may even improve orgasms

Now that we’re familiar with these three sex hormones and what they do, when are they up or down throughout the cycle?

Follicular phase

In the beginning of the follicular phase, estrogen begins to rise. And as this hormone continues to rise, there will be an increase in energy and sexual desire, especially nearer to the follicular phase, mentally and physically. 

Mentally, you’re more aroused and physically, your body is producing more vaginal lubrication and your genitals are more sensitive. 

Ovulation phase

During ovulation, sexual desire and arousal will often be at its highest as estrogen levels surge. This is no coincidence as during ovulation your body is preparing to conceive

Masturbation during ovulation has the capacity to be better, sex during ovulation has the capacity to be better, and your orgasms could be even more pleasurable. 

Luteal phase

Estrogen levels continue to rise in the luteal phase but not at warp speed like during the ovulation phase. At the same time progesterone levels begin to rise. This combination often means a lower sex drive, as progesterone affects lubrication (you may need extra lube during this phase), and it might be harder to orgasm. 

At the same time, PMS starts to rear its head during the end of the luteal phase, which is accompanied with some not-so-fun side effects. Mood swings, cramps, low energy and so on may also contribute to lower levels of sexual desire. 

Menstrual phase

Sex hormones are generally low during the first day or two of one’s period. After that, the drop in progesterone continues while the hormones estrogen and testosterone begin to rise again. 

This means that one’s sexual desire and arousal may rise again. 

In fact, some women find that they’re more aroused during this phase as opposed to the ovulation phase.

As we mentioned earlier though, no two people are the same. Levels of arousal and sexual desire is different for everyone, and that’s perfectly fine. 

Having said that, if you are one of those individuals who feel (more) turned on during menstruation, that’s perfectly fine too. 

There is nothing wrong with period sex and/or masturbating during your period. And actually, there are a lot of benefits you can enjoy by doing so (as long as you orgasm).

5 benefits of an orgasm (via sex or masturbation) during your period 

Anytime sexual arousal strikes, you have the bodily autonomy to tap into it and enjoy your sexuality. 

Whether it’s sex with a consenting partner or engaging in masturbation, you have the opportunity to take advantage of those sex hormones that are increasing your desire.

So, what are the benefits of solo or partnered play while on your period?

1. Natural lubrication 

Forget sex hormones increasing and decreasing your levels of lubrication, or grabbing a bottle of lube. Your period provides more than enough natural lubrication to have penetrative sex or to masturbate.

2. Enhanced mood

Did you know that when you orgasm, endorphins and oxytocin are released? Endorphins are called the “happy hormone” and oxytocin is called the “love hormone”. These two hormones can then bring about a better mood, and a better connection with yourself or your partner. 

3. An orgasm is a natural pain reliever

Period cramps are no fun, but as it goes—an orgasm is actually a natural pain reliever. This is because, when you orgasm, endorphins are released. This hormone acts as the body’s natural pain killer, helping reduce discomfort during your period. 

4. Less concern of conception 

During your period, you may feel more aroused because you have peace of mind. In other words, you may be less worried about falling pregnant during your period, which can make the experience even more arousing. 

5. Shorter periods

While this isn’t exactly scientifically proven, it’s been said that having an orgasm while on your period can help shorten it. This is because, when you orgasm, the same muscles contract as when period blood is expelled. This increase in contractions could help you experience shorter periods. 

Now that you know more about how hormones fluctuate during the menstrual cycle, perhaps you’ll be more conscious of your levels of arousal and why. 

But even if you aren’t, remember that your sexuality is your power. There is no “normal” when it comes to sexual desire, and that makes you unique in whichever way or time in which you enjoy your sexuality.