The Real Reason You're So Horny On & Before Your Period

Woman Lying On Stomach In Black Lingerie On Bed

Regardless of a person's period archetype, increased sexual desire (read: extreme horniness) is pretty common before and during menstruation. It doesn't happen to everyone, but the phenomenon of feeling hot and bothered during that time of the month is not uncommon. So we asked women's health experts to explain exactly why it happens. 

Why you might be horny before your period. 

People may feel horny before their period because of their hormonal cycle. Our hormone levels fluctuate depending on the phase of their menstrual cycle. The hormones testosterone and estrogen are linked with sexual desire. Estrogen will begin to peak during ovulation, says reproductive endocrinologist Sheeva Talebian, M.D., and testosterone also surges. That means the desire to have sex usually increases around the ovulatory phase, which starts about 14 days before menstruation and might last until about seven days before.

"People with vaginas are most fertile when we ovulate, and that spike in testosterone charges up our body to desire sex," writes functional health coach Erin Rachel Doppelt, M.A., who tracks her menstrual cycle with her partner and encourages other couples to do the same. "During this time, I feel sexy," she says. "Typically my skin is a bit more oily, my hair is shiny, and my odor is different—more sweet and tangy. Because I'm looking and feeling more attractive than ever, my partner and I like to get it on during this time." 

The hormonal cycle may have a lot to do with feeling horny before your period—but it's not the only reason, and not everyone experiences it. "Desire is multifactorial," OB/GYN and integrative women's health expert Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz, M.D., tells mbg. Everything from personal history to sexual preference; mood; and psychological, mental, and physical factors; can all play a role in feeling turned on.

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Why you might be horny during your period. 

Some people also feel particularly horny during their period. That may be because of the increase in blood flow to the pelvic and genital regions, says Gilberg-Lenz. More circulation to these areas may make them more sensitive and more engorged (similar to how more blood flow to the penis is what helps get an erection going), stimulating those sensitive nerve endings and triggering arousal.

There may also be psychological reasons behind a higher libido during your period. "For those who have a rough PMS, the sheer relief of menstruating could play a role," Gilberg-Lenz says. The relief of not being pregnant (increased stress has been linked to low libido) may also contribute to an increased desire, she says.

Your vagina is also getting natural lubrication in the form of menstrual blood, which might trigger arousal for some folks.

Evolution might also have a role to play here, OB-GYN Heather Irobunda, M.D., tells mbg. “In an evolutionary sense, women are likely to be horny around ovulation so that they can have sex in order to procreate,” she explains. “A woman may be horny [during her period] since she did not get pregnant during the last ovulatory cycle. It may be a cue for her to have more sex to try to get pregnant. It is interesting how the body works!”

FAQs about periods and sex: 

1. Is it safe to act on your feelings and have sex during your period?

Having sex on your period is perfectly safe and actually quite common—about half of sexually active women do it, one study says. "There's no health reason not to have sex on your period," naturopathic doctor Jordin Wiggins, N.D., previously told mbg. It can be messy, though, so laying down a dark towel or moving things to the shower may keep your mind off the mess. 

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2. How can birth control affect this? 

Birth control pills contain both estrogen and progesterone in low doses, so they do not lead to the same hormone spikes that a natural ovulatory cycle would bring, Talebian says. "One of the side effects of a birth control pill is a decreased libido because the E and P is low," she says. 

3. Is the horniness only because of hormones? 

"Boiling every single thing a woman feels in her body down to hormones is reductive at best, misogynist at worst," Gilberg-Lenz says. "We are way more than that." Sexual attraction and desire are totally normal, regardless of hormones. Intimacy and trust with your partner, feeling sexy, confident, or turned on, are all pretty natural reasons to want sex at any given moment. (Here: a few ways to increase sexual desire.)

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4. Is this when you're most likely to get pregnant?

During the ovulation phase, eggs are released. "The egg travels from the ovary to the fallopian tube where it awaits potential fertilization, which means this is the phase of the month when a woman can get pregnant," functional medicine physician Robin Berzin, M.D., previously told mbg. That said, it is possible to get pregnant during the menstrual phase—especially if you ovulate very early, Talebian says.  

Regardless of the cyclical phase, "Your sexual desire can increase your chances of pregnancy because it may lead to more sex," Talebian says. In other words: More sex equals a higher chance of getting pregnant. This is why it's important to use protection if you're not trying to get pregnant—period or not.

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