In defense (and criticism) of menstrual discs and period sex

A menstrual disc. Original photo obtained from Twitter/@catwomanizer
A menstrual disc. Original photo obtained from Twitter/@catwomanizer

Here’s the bloody truth: we can’t talk about period sex in Indonesia without the discussion evolving into one about its cultural and religious implications.

Over the weekend, we saw a widespread discussion online about period sex courtesy of influencer Andrea Gunawan (@catwomanizer), who shared her experience of using a menstrual disc – which she bought in the US – to have mess-free sex with her partner while she was on her period.

“I finally tried sexual intercourse while menstruating using a Flex menstrual disc. It turned out to be comfortable, did not disrupt the sexual activity at all, and it was like I couldn’t ‘feel’ it. Menstrual discs are an effective barrier so the blood doesn’t go anywhere,” Andrea tweeted.

“Bonus video: Joe assisting with the insertion.”

The tweet, which was posted on June 2, has been viewed over 17 million times as of this article’s publication. While it got some people intrigued (menstrual discs are not commonly available in Indonesia), many were revolted by the idea of period sex – culturally and religiously considered to be a taboo act.

One user argued that one can’t always reconcile Western and Eastern sensibilities when it comes to hygiene and sex.

“She praises the US and all of its ideologies and lifestyle choices, whereas she knows that the majority of her followers are Indonesian, so she should have better positioned her opinion. There are still misconceptions about normal sex [in Indonesia], and now she’s sharing about menstrual sex so people can say she’s advanced,” @adnardn wrote.

While some may shy away from the idea of menstrual discs, others embrace it as an opportunity for heightened intimacy. As with any debated topic, it is essential to examine both the pros and cons, allowing people to make informed decisions based on personal preferences and comfort levels.

So is it safe?

You can find plenty of reporters abroad who are more committed than me (and are actually biologically qualified) trying out sex using menstrual discs “for science” and writing about their experience. Like Andrea, their verdicts are generally positive, as they experienced little to no discomfort, let alone consequences to genitalia health.

As for period sex, it’s not just about being unable to “hold it” for a week or so. Studies have shown that period sex can alleviate cramps as intercourse can trigger the release of pain-relieving endorphins.

In addition, Aunt Flow can serve as extra lubricant during sex (though she would not be present with menstrual disc use, admittedly), elevating pleasure and reducing pain.

The bottom line is, menstrual discs are safe if you want to have period sex. You may just have to be mindful about where you remove the disc, as you can expect blood that was held up by the device to come rushing out with it.

A taboo

Islam – the most dominant religion in Indonesia – explicitly forbids period sex. The Quran states: Menstruation is a discomfort (for women). Do not establish sexual relations with them during the menses and do not approach them (sexually) until the blood stops. Then when they have cleansed themselves, you go into them as Allah has commanded you.”

Other recognized religions in Indonesia generally espouse similar teachings about period sex. As such, as we saw here, any attempt to normalize that which is taboo is likely to be met with resistance.

As some Twitter users pointed out, it can be dangerous to promote new sexual behavior in a society that has not fully accepted a liberal viewpoint of sex. We have reported numerous harrowing stories about men forcing sex upon their reluctant wives, causing great bodily and mental harm. Could this discussion about menstrual cups and period sex embolden such men to demand pleasure from their partners at any moment? Or perhaps shitty people are bound to hurt their partners regardless of whatever is being hotly debated on Twitter?

Also Read

Andrea certainly was not promoting the idea that period sex can serve as the gateway to non-consensual intercouse in her tweets. Speaking to Coconuts Jakarta, she said she simply wanted to share her knowledge about a menstruation technology novel to most Indonesians. She lamented how some perceived her to be exhibiting a superiority complex through menstrual discs.

“[I] was just trying to show a different POV, probably didn’t use the right example, but can’t please everyone,” she said today.

“Whatever they say I am, I say ‘You’re right.’”

Whichever side you take in the debate, it’s important to underline that personal preference and consent are everything in sex, including whether or not to have period sex, with menstrual discs or otherwise.

Andrea should not be vilified for starting the conversation. If you’re turned off by the idea of period sex, you can simply say no to it – and make sure you have a partner who respects your decision either way.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article linked to the wrong reference source for menstrual cramp relief via period sex. We have rectified the mistake and we apologize for any convenience.


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