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The Real Reason You're ~In The Mood~ During Your Period

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Most doctors will tell you that you're horniest during ovulation, the stage of your cycle right between periods. Since the egg has started its journey down to the fallopian tubes, where sperm could reach it, you're most fertile then. Which makes me wonder, why am I horny during my period instead? Under the usual logic, we'd be expected to be least horny when we're bleeding, since it's when our fertility and sex hormone levels are at their lowest. But if you experience the opposite of what's predicted, there's a scientific reason for that, too.

While the increased sex drive many experience during ovulation has a hormonal basis, the surge some feel during their periods is actually structural, Alisa Vitti, a functional nutritionist, founder of hormone-tracking app MyFLO, and author of Woman Code, tells Bustle.

"In the menstrual phase, you're interested in sex because the uterus is expanding with blood and pressing upon never endings in the pelvic basin," she explains. And when the nerve endings around your vulva are being stimulated, your brain might interpret it as if something were actually touching you there. It's basically the same principle as when a penis becomes erect — when blood flows into your genitals, you're going to start to feel aroused.

"It's not in your head — it's in your pelvis," says Vitti. "A lot of women, because of taboos around sexual bleeding, feel conflicted about that and I don't think are getting the pleasure they want. But if they knew this was a phenomenon that happens to every woman, they might embrace the sex drive in that phase of the cycle."

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Another potential reason you feel randier during your period could be psychological, OB/GYN Dr. Kecia Gaither tells Bustle. "You don't have to worry about becoming pregnant — so you can be as free and uninhibited as you wish," she explains. (In reality, you can get pregnant on your period, but knowing your chances are lower may nevertheless help you relax).

Despite these very valid reasons to be more into sex during our periods, many women avoid period sex. Some might find it uncomfortable, which is understandable. But others avoid it to the perception that it's disgusting, which is a problem. Many of us carry around shame over our periods, in the bedroom and in other areas of our lives, but they actually do a lot of awesome things that deserved to be embraced.

Still, there are a lot of hormonal reasons you get horny during different phases of your cycle. One 2018 study of 22 heterosexual women found that their levels of estradiol, a key horniness hormone, increased after being exposed to stimuli during their follicular and luteal phases. Estradiol actually increased more during the follicular phase, aka the week after your period, when your body is preparing to drop an egg during ovulation, than during the luteal phase (aka, PMS time). If you're horny at any time of your cycle, there's probably a hormone behind it.

Now that I understand that my menstrual horniness is biologically rooted, I'll be looking forward to my period even more. After all, there's no foreplay quite like the stimulation of the pelvic nerves by the uterus.

Studies referenced:

Shirazi, T. N., Bossio, J. A., Puts, D. A., & Chivers, M. L. (2018). Menstrual cycle phase predicts womens hormonal responses to sexual stimuli. Hormones and Behavior, 103, 45–53. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2018.05.023

Sources interviewed:

Alisa Vitti, HHC, functional nutritionist

Dr. Kecia Gaither, OB/GYN

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