April 30, 2020

The Best Sex Positions For When You Have Bad Period Cramps

Don’t let periods cramp your (sex) style.
Written by
Jamie LeClaire
Published on
April 30, 2020
Updated on
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Many people who menstruate experience period cramps and avoid sex because of that discomfort. But did you know that having sex can actually help ease bad period cramps? It can take time to figure out which sex positions are the most comfortable while you’re menstruating, but period sex can help to relax strained abdominal muscles, soothe body aches, and more. 

According to a 2012 study, around 84 percent of vulva-owners report experiencing moderate to severe lower abdominal pain or “cramping” (aka dysmenorrhea) before, during, and after their period. But there are ways to mitigate this pain. You can try things like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), heating pads, and ORGASMS! Yes, you read that correctly; sexual pleasure can help relieve period cramps. In fact, a 1985 study by sex researcher Beverly Whipple showed that nearly 50 percent of participants had a higher pain tolerance and pain threshold after vaginal self-stimulation and orgasm. This is because vaginal and clitoral stimulation triggers pleasure chemicals like oxytocin and endorphins, which can decrease pain perception. 

If you have period cramps and are trying to achieve orgasm with a partner, however, it can be difficult to find comfortable positions. You can experiment with positions that don’t involve strenuous activity, that promote the flow of blood, nutrients and fresh oxygen towards the abdominal area, and positions that allow for body heat focused around the abdominal area. 

To help you get a handle on how to make sex comfy and fun while you’re riding the crimson wave, here are a few sex positions to try:  


How to do it: Just like the cuddling position, both partners assume a similar fetal position, laying on the bed or another surface on their sides, one person in front of the other, parallel. The receiving partner can bring their higher leg over if it is more comfortable to not have both knees stacked or to provide better access and more pleasure.

Why it’s great for period cramps: Both partners are lying down in this position, so it is less of a strain on the body. This is a good position for grinding so that the receiving partner can control the movement if they choose. The penetrating partner can also slip their arm over their partner’s waist and gently press a hand onto their abdomen. Such body heat can help relieve pain from period cramps.

Supine Twist

How to do it: In this position you would lay on your back, draw one knee up toward your chest, and across your body, keeping your torso flat against the surface. If you were using your right leg, you would pull your right knee up and then across to the left, slightly “twisting” your body. The penetrating partner, on their knees, will then straddle the leg that is still flat, and penetrate from there. The receiving partner may also bring up the leg that is laying flat to meet the crossed over the bent leg, bring them into the fetal position, while again, keeping the chest and upper torso flat.

Supine Twist

Why it’s great for cramps: This position is actually a yoga pose that is lauded for its ability to soothe the abdominal muscles, to relieve tension and to promote healthy digestion, all of which are key in reducing menstrual cramps. It also doubles as a fun combo of missionary and doggy. 


How to do it:  The receiving partner lays  on their back, maybe with a pillow behind their upper torso, with their knees upwards and spread open so that they can rest in a “butterfly” position. The penetrating partner, on their knees and facing their partner, penetrates from here and can lean forward for a more intimate encounter. 

Why it’s great for cramps: The position is also a yoga pose that settles the abdominal area. It stimulates the abdominal organs including the ovaries and uterus, improving circulation. With the added heat from a partner the closer you are, can also help ease cramping, like a heating pad.

Spread Doggy

How to do it: The receiving partner will assume a child’s pose position, folding forward, and then spreading their knees, lowering their chest, arm/hand placement can be adjusted to what feels comfortable. The penetrating partner penetrates from behind, holding onto the hips, waist, back, shoulders, hair, etc. The receiving partner can place a pillow under their stomach for added comfort. Additionally, the receiving partner may also place a heating pad or heated blanket on top of the pillow and rest their stomach comfortably on the area while receiving penetration.

Spread Doggy

Why it’s great for cramps: As a variation of child’s pose, a recovery pose in yoga practices, this position stimulates and massages the abdominal area while allowing the receiving partner to relax in a comfortable position 

Knees To Chest

How to do it: This is an oral position. The receiving partner lies on their back, and draws their knees towards their chest with their arms around their knees or with their hands on the top of their shins. From here, the partner can perform oral by laying on their stomach or kneeling facing the vulva of the receiving partner. This position is also convenient If you wanna move further down south for a rim job. You can also place a pillow or folded blanket underneath the lower back to raise the hips higher for easier access or if you find that more comfortable

Why it’s great for cramps: In this position, the receiver is able to lay back and relax. It also relieves tension in the lower back and abdomen, as well as gently and deeply massaging the abdominal region. 

Before you give these a shot, remember that as with any other physical activity, you know your body best. Listen to it, make adjustments and take breaks as needed. And if you have absolutely no interest in engaging in any kind of sex during your period, or while you have cramps, that’s totally fine and understandable, too. Do what feels right for you, and if you think sex will help, experimenting with some of these positions might just be the best part of your period.

Reviewed for Medical Accuracy

Jamie J. LeClaire (they/them) is a sexuality educator, freelance writer, and consultant. Their work focuses on the intersections of pleasure-positive sexual health, queer & transgender/gender-nonconforming identity, body politics, and social justice. You can find more of their work at their website, and follow them on Instagram & Twitter.

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