Q: I am newly married and my husband and I both waited until marriage to have sex. We are slowly getting use to each other’s likes and dislikes and enjoying getting to discover new things with one another. But recently my husband got upset because I do not feel like fooling around or having sex with him when I am on my menstrual period. He feels like we will be missing out on 12 weeks out of the year…to put it in his words. How do I explain to him the way I feel during my cycle or what do I do to make him understand it is not that I do not want him but that I don’t feel like doing anything?
Also I read your answer to the other virgin couple and what you say is really true. We should be talking about sex as Christians. Especially to couples getting married so that they can be better prepared. I know I still do not feel equipped to deal with it all.
A: An old axiom says, “For the first two years of your marriage, put a penny in a jar next to your bed every time you make love. After your second anniversary, take a penny out of the jar every time you make love. You’ll never empty that jar.” That’s overstating it a bit, obviously, but the truth in that axiom is that after being married for a while, the newness of exploring each other’s bodies and trying new things wears off and lovemaking becomes more about intimacy than excitement. (At least, that’s the way it’s supposed to work. If you wonder why, ask and I’ll answer in another column.)
A young husband worrying about missing twelve weeks a year actually is a good thing. It means that he wants you with his whole being and does not like the idea of not being able to have that passion every week of the year. The difficulty you have is that because he is a man, he doesn’t understand the physical effects of menses. No man can. I surely don’t. So to help him understand you’ll have to put it into his language. Help him picture having both emotional and physical discomfort at the same time, with an extra helping of moodiness mixed in. Maybe ask him how much he’d want to “fool around” during a week in which he drank a healthy chug of ipecac to wash down a dose of Ex-Lax every day. Yeah, gross, I know. Made me queasy just to write it. The idea is that he has no frame of reference to understand how you feel during your period and you will only be able to get him to grasp it when you tie it to something he can understand.
Now let me give the other side of this. I’m not trying to convince you to have sexual activity during your menstrual period, but there are actual medical benefits from it if you do. Women who orgasm during their menstrual period (whether the orgasm is from intercourse, masturbation, etc.) tend to have fewer and less intense cramps. They also decrease their likelihood of endometriosis. (Check out these and other interesting medical facts about orgasm in the book The Science of Orgasm. Not a bedside reader, but a truly scientific book that definitely isn’t porn.)
Orgasm is an analgesic but not an anesthetic. That means having an orgasm actually reduces pain without decreasing sensation (amazing, huh?). Therefore, you may want to try having an orgasm with your husband, even if it is not by traditional intercourse if that is too uncomfortable, to see if there is a compromise the two of you can make so that both can be happy.
Either way, find a way to have intimacy, even if that isn’t sex as usual. There can always be holding, caressing, and expressions of love. If you find that orgasm during menses isn’t for you, you may find that leading him to orgasm in some fashion will be an incredible action on your part that will lead to reciprocal action on his part in other parts of your life together.