Your Guide to Period Sex: Conversation with Lilly Sparks, Founder & CEO- afterglow

Your Guide to Period Sex: Conversation with Lilly Sparks, Founder & CEO- afterglow

The conversation around period sex is often shunned & unspoken of. Yet, there is a need for education & answers around this. Lilly Sparks, founder & CEO of afterglow, sat down with August to talk about all things period sex. Sparks is building afterglow, the sexual wellness company bringing resources & pleasure into everyday lives, and thought it was time to be open and honest about our sexual experiences.

Introduction, who are you and what do you do?

I’m Lilly Sparks and I’m creating, a membership site dedicated to erotic films sexual learning and wellness. Most people watch porn, but it doesn’t help them with their sex life. At afterglow, we’re on a pleasure mission, celebrating & normalizing sex. We’ve got everything from ethical porn to guided masturbations to partner exercises, all from experts in the field. We believe having a self-pleasure routine is as normal as reading the morning paper.

What inspired you and got you passionate about the topic of sexual health and wellness?

I grew up in a family that never talked about sex. Then, when I was in a relationship with my high school sweetheart - from age 15 to 30 - I knew nothing about my own body or how to communicate my desires. It’s no wonder that I didn’t orgasm until age 24. I looked to porn to show me how to have sex, and while it turned me on, I didn’t see my fantasies represented. Prior to starting afterglow I was in the natural foods industry, so I’ve always been into wellness and I believe sexual health and wellness is the next wellness wave. It’s time to finally break the taboos!

Why do you think it is important to be transparent and open about your sexual health and experience?

If you ignore a problem, it doesn’t make it go away. We have so many outdated cultural scripts around sex - that it’s bad, that if it doesn’t feel great there’s something wrong, that imperfect bodies don’t deserve pleasure - and we can’t change those without talking about them. Beyond that, there’s even a lack of basic information due to inconsistent sex education - most people can’t label their own sexual anatomy correctly. Being open and transparent is the best way to educate and create change.

Is it okay to have sex on your period? Are there any benefits?

HELL YES it is! There are lots of benefits - blood provides a natural lubricant, and changes in hormones may lead you to feel friskier during this time. For more info, check out Why You Should Give Period Sex A Go on The only caveat is that risk of STI infections may be higher during your period, so remember safer sex, as always.

Can STI’s still be transmitted during period sex? Is oral sex safe?

Yes, STIs can still be transmitted during period sex. Viruses like HIV and Hepatitis can live in the blood and can be transmitted through menstrual blood. Remember to always have safer sex!

Why is period sex so stigmatized? Where do you think that stigma comes from?

Period sex is stigmatized because we’ve been told our body’s natural functions are “dirty.” I’m going to blame this one on the patriarchy and call it a day.

Does having sex on your period make you bleed more? Can having sex start or delay your period?

No, it doesn’t. There’s a theory that having orgasms during your period creates uterine contractions and may help shorten the duration of your period, but it hasn’t been fully studied.

Does having sex on your period help with cramps & stress?

YES! Having orgasms can relieve cramping and stress - this goes for self-pleasure as well as sex.

Will I smell or taste differently if I have period sex? What are some hygienic tips you would give to someone about to engage in period sex?

Most likely, but it’s no big deal –let’s remember, vaginas are supposed to have a smell and scent! Because of the iron in blood, your vaginal fluid will have a more earthy, metallic tinge to it, especially if the blood is not the freshest.

To make period sex less messy, you can try the following:

Most disposable menstrual cups can be used during sex Shower sex Towels & Wipes Dental Dam Missionary position (lying on your back is thought to reduce blood flow)

P.S. Be sure to remove your tampon or reusable menstrual cup before sex!

Can I still get pregnant if I have unprotected sex on my period?

It’s unlikely, but possible. If you have a shorter cycle and have sex at the end of it, sperm can live in your uterus for 3-5 days. Personally, I like tracking my cycle with an app. The menstrual cycle is like a 5th vital sign, and it can help you understand your body, your moods, and when you might be most or least likely to get pregnant.

Can having sex on your period cause a UTI or yeast infection?

No, having sex on your period does not cause a UTI or yeast infection.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to bring up period sex with their partner?

My first advice would be to bring it up outside of the bedroom. What you say depends on your partner and your relationship with them. I’d recommend keeping things positive and sprinkling in some affirmations. It can be as easy as saying, “hey, I’m on my period - want to have sex?” or “It feels so great having sex with you, I want to do it even though I’m on my period. What do you think?” If that doesn’t feel right, you can say something like “Hey, talking about sex / periods can be awkward, but there’s something I’d like to ask you. Is now a good time?”

When I’m on my period, I don’t feel so sexy - any advice?

There’s a difference between feeling sexy and wanting to have sex. If you don’t want to have sex, then don’t have sex! If you want to have sex, but don’t feel sexy, think about what makes you feel sexy all the other times of the month. Maybe it’s dancing to your favorite jam, wearing your favorite outfit, or reminding yourself you’re a hottie. Then do that!

Also remember there are so many ways to have sex, it’s not all about intercourse. Maybe starting with some mutual masturbation or toys or other warm-ups can help you get out of your head.

When I’m on my period, I feel embarrassed about my partner seeing the period blood. How do I approach that conversation?

First, think about what would make you feel more comfortable and what your needs are. Maybe it’s having a towel down or having the lights turned off. Maybe you don’t want your partner to eat you out, but you still need a warm up. Once you’ve thought through what makes you embarrassed and how your partner can support you, then have the conversation. You might want to open by telling them you’re a little nervous to talk about sex and/or periods, but want to try new things with them. Then, make your request. Remember, they might say no and that’s ok! It’s up to you both to figure out your personal boundaries.

When talking about anything with your partner, my biggest tip is to remain open and curious. Don’t judge them for having a different belief than you. Instead, try to understand what’s behind that belief and how they came to think that way. Tone is really important, remember its somebody you care about enough to want to have sex with, and they deserve your respect. Ask them for what you want, but remember to be ok if they say no. Consent is sexy!

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