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Some Women Get Horny as Hell Right Before Their Periods

There are biological as well as psychological factors at play here.

Wendy Wisner

Guille Fangold / Stocksy

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For many years, I associated PMS with a time when I had zero interest in sex. I mean, I wanted to devour all the chocolate and carbs in sight, but my feelings toward my spouse ranged from full-on rage if he so much as left the toilet seat up, to wanting to throttle him if he even lightly brushed up against me. My sore breasts, bloated stomach, and hormone-triggered migraines and constipation didn't help either.

But then—after I moved past two pregnancies and a few years of breastfeeding, both of which made my hormones and cycles wonky—I noticed something strangely awesome started happening. I'd have my usual PMS symptoms, where even the thought of sex would make me nauseous. And then, the day before my period came, I would become horny as hell, demanding all the sex right now.

During sex, I'd have orgasm after orgasm, as though my body was holding it all in during that god-awful week of PMS, and was ready to release it all. Sure enough, by the next day, I'd start to bleed. I wasn't sure what to make of it, but it was definitely something my husband and I noticed (and enjoyed) like clockwork every month.

Recently, my girlfriends and I were chatting about PMS and sex (because, of course), and it turned out that I wasn't the only one experiencing the day-before-you-bleed-fuck-me-please phenomenon. Several of my friends chimed in with almost identical stories.

"I've always been really in the mood right before my period starts," says my friend Katie Smith, from Bowdoinham, Vermont. "As a teenager it made me feel a little strange. As an older woman, I love it! There's nothing like an orgasm to relieve my cramps and irritability."


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My friend Jordan (who asked to withhold her last name), from San Jose, California, had a story similar to mine, where the trend started to happen as she got older, after her kids were grown. "Before my son was born—he's nine—my sex drive was sort of all over the place, rarely determined by my cycle, except of course for the extra randy period around ovulation," Jordan says. "Then, around the time my son turned two, I noticed a funny thing: After the initial four or five days of PMS in which my husband knew that unexpected caresses and sexual overtures would most likely be met by a grumble and a glare, I realized that I had a fierce urge to make love to him the day before my period arrived."

Jordan says she can even determine when her period will arrive based on her sudden uptick in horniness. Another friend, Amanda Finch, from Queens, New York, concurs with her, even going so far as to say that she thinks that sex actually brings her period on. "If I have sex on day 27 or 28, when I am very, very horny, I will get my period within 12 hours," Amanda tells me, adding that her instinct tells her sex "gets things moving down there," bringing on her flow. I share Amanda's experience: My period will sometimes arrive within hours after sex, as though the contractions of orgasm are bringing it on.

I know that from a purely scientific point of view, orgasms do not bring on periods. Just a quick glance through my beloved bible of the reproductive system, Our Bodies, Ourselves—which I have been reading for insights about sex and reproduction since I was a teen—lays it out. If we don't conceive during ovulation, write the authors of the book, "the corpus luteum [endocrine structure involved in ovulation and early pregnancy] is reabsorbed into the ovary...and the hormone levels drop; this is the trigger that causes menstruation."

But whether or not sex affects the exact timing of our periods, wanting sex (and orgasms) galore right before our periods arrive is definitely a common thing, at least for some women. And because I have always been a female reproductive system junkie (what? It's a thing), I had a nagging compulsion to get to the bottom of this. So I got in touch with Leah Millheiser, an OB/GYN and assistant professor at Stanford University, who was able to shed a little light on this whole thing for me.

She alerts me to one important caveat. "First, let's start with this fact," Millheiser says. "Research has never shown consistent results when it comes to determining how the menstrual cycle affects sex drive."

Nevertheless, Millheiser concedes that horndoggery the day before one's period is indeed common for some women, and even has some theories about why. "There are biological as well as psychological factors at play here," Millheiser tells me. "Some women are very 'in the mood' right before or even during their periods because of the reduced pregnancy risk. Other women enjoy sex during this time because it helps with their PMS symptoms, like cramping," she explains.

Of course, Millheiser would be remiss not to add that many women see a noticeable increase in their sexual drive during ovulation (week three in a four-week cycle), which can be explained by that aforementioned nagging evolutionary drive to procreate. "This may have to do with the fact that they are more fertile during that time," she says. But while ovulation horniness seems to be a given for so many women I know, most don't really talk about the day-before-your-period sexplosion all that much.

Millheiser's explanation of why some women see that pre-period spike jibes well with my experience, and the experience of many of my friends. Sex seems to relieve cramps for many of us, and it's certainly an added bonus that you are much less likely to conceive the day before Aunt Flo arrives. Perhaps just that knowledge—coupled with the fact that you are about to be gushing blood and probably won't want sex for a few days—is enough to increase sexual interest.

"It's hard to really specifically associate libido with a specific hormone, given that there are so many things that impact your sex drive," says Connie Liu, an OB/GYN at Gallup Indian Medical Center in New Mexico.

Liu has a different explanation for that pre-period spike in sex drive—she chalks it up to hormone fluctuations. "A woman's period is brought about with a downward shift in the hormone progesterone; I think it's reasonable to think that there are some downstream effects that are related to that, including increased sex drive," she explains.

Liu's explanation matches my experience exactly: A week of feeling those awful PMS-y symptoms most likely brought on by the high levels of progesterone during the luteal phase of my cycle; and then, on that day before I bleed, what feels like a quick (and lovely) shift in my hormonal make-up.

Still, Millheiser and Liu both emphasize that there is not one consistent trend when it comes to this inquiry. "It's impossible to apply a one-size-fits-all when it comes to sexual interest and the menstrual cycle," Millheiser says.

For sure, all women's bodies are different, and even change throughout their lives. I could imagine it changing for me, especially in few years when I get closer to menopause and everything gets thrown totally out of whack yet again.

Whatever the case, I'm going to proclaim that a rush of the fuck-me-now urges right before we bleed is a very real phenomenon. And whether or not I ever satisfy my reproduction geek curiosity about the "why," I'm going to go ahead and enjoy the hell out of it.

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