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Women’s Sex Drive Fluctuates Throughout the Menstrual Cycle

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Aug 19, 2019

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Menstruation brings about changes that are difficult to comprehend at times; for some, a period leaves them craving certain kinds of foods. Others may cry and feel emotional. Still others are left wanting one thing only: to have more sex. A review of studies published in Psychology Today, has concluded that “peak erotic motivation occurs around the time of ovulation.”

For instance, in one of them, to chart libido and sexual functioning, researchers asked 115 women, between ages 23 and 45, to complete a survey twice: once mid-cycle around ovulation and once before their period began. The “women reported significantly more interest in sex and greater satisfaction from orgasm at mid-cycle,” reported PT. And in another study, when erotic videos were shown to 20 women whose genitals were connected to blood flow sensors, researchers found it increased the most around the time of ovulation, resulting in an increase in sex drive too, PT reported. And as part of another study, when researchers asked women to choose between films that were comedies, romances, action-adventure and erotica, they found a surge in interest in erotic films as women approached ovulation, according to PT.


Related on The Swaddle:

Stigma Has Rendered Period Sex Gross. But It’s Actually Good For You.


Dr. Nicole Bullock, an obstetrician, and gynecologist from Texas, told Refinery29, “Right before ovulation, a cisgender woman’s body has its highest levels of estrogen, which makes you feel good. [Therefore] your estrogen is kicking your sex drive into high gear.” She added, “On the flip side, estrogen is at a low during the week of your period, and so is progesterone. So, it’d make sense for your libido to be at an all-month low during your period, too, right?”

While this could explain how hormones play a significant role in determining how much sex women want to have, psychological factors also come into play — especially for women who feel horniest not during ovulation, but rather when they are menstruating.

These factors may include a sense of relief when having sex on a period, since the chances of pregnancy are low; knowing this may encourage women to want to have more sex. For others, an increased sex drive during menstruation may have to do with potential advantages — such as the blood acting as a lubricant, in turn making penetration less painful, and orgasms relieving cramps. “Having an orgasm releases feel-good hormones like oxytocin and dopamine that help ease pain, for example, from menstrual cramps,” The Swaddle has previously reported. “Orgasms also contract the uterus, which could result in faster flowing of the menstrual blood accumulated in the organ, thus shortening the span of a period,” according to an interview given by Dr. Dee Fenner, director of gynecology in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, U.S., with Metro UK.

But at times, it can work the other way round, too. Women may also find period sex gross, resulting in a decrease in their sex drive that coincides with their hormonal dip. But, to overcome this feeling, per this study, all it takes is getting turned on. So, go ahead, give it a try?

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Written By Anubhuti Matta

Anubhuti Matta is an associate editor with The Swaddle. When not at work, she’s busy pursuing kathak, reading books on and by women in the Middle East or making dresses out of Indian prints.

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