Go With The Flow

Go with the flow: what our menstrual cycle can tell us about our libido

There are days where we feel hot and heavy, and other times we’d prefer to be left alone in our second favourite bed sheets and yesterday’s pyjamas. We know when we’re in the mood and when we’re not. But have we noticed the cyclical way our sexual desire peaks and then drops off in line with our menstrual cycle? Our cycle is characterised by a rise and fall in our hormones, which can be divided into four phases. These biological reactions, which encourage procreation, can tell us so much more than just when we’re good and ready to make babies. And if we listen carefully, they can offer some sexually liberating perspective.

Embracing hormonal changes gives us permission to enjoy sexy highs or take it easy when we’re feeling low

Understanding our menstrual cycle can be oh so sexually liberating

Period (roughly days 1-5)

Our period is rarely glorified as sexy. Bloating, cramping, headaches, the emotional rollercoaster we can’t get off. For many of us, this is enough to explain the associated low libido. A decrease in our sexual desire can also be explained by the fall in oestrogen and progesterone here, which for many means our sensual side is cactus.


For others though, a second smaller peak in sex drive and arousal might be noticed instead. And the good news here- period sex is naturally lubricated, making the experience more pleasurable for those giving it a go. Another positive- muscle contractions that come with orgasms may help to relieve the pain associated with menstrual cramps.

Follicular Phase (roughly days 1-14)

After the sluggish and restorative days of our periods have passed, we are likely to feel re-energised and ready to embrace our flirty and sexual selves. In this phase, ovarian follicles are getting ready to release an egg, and oestrogen and testosterone are on the rise. This usually happens about six days before we ovulate so we might notice our sex drive heating up here too. Biologically speaking, this is to promote fertility and conception. But regardless of our pregnancy plans here, look out for and enjoy heightened arousal, stimulation and increased libido in these few weeks. It’s all ours, and we’ve earned it.

Ovulation (roughly day 14)

Now oestrogen and testosterone levels are in full swing and these hormones are pulling the strings on our sexual interests. Studies show that we masturbate more just before and during ovulation and we have more intense sexual fantasies here too. We can keep track of ovulation by noticing changes in our bodies, particularly vaginal discharge which can be very wet, clumpy and stretchy on the day of ovulation.


Luteal Phase (roughly days 14- 28)

Progesterone is a bit of a mood killer, as studies show sex drive is lower when levels of progesterone increase in the luteal phase. Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), which over 90% of us experience, like stress and bloating, is also a turn off in the lead up to menstruation. This might be the emotional permission we need to take it easy and shake off any pressure we feel to be at the peak of our sexual game here.

A note on hormonal contraception…

The pill, the implant, and non-copper IUDs are hormonal forms of birth control which interrupt our natural hormone cycle. This means that many (although not all) users might not feel the same levels of fluctuation in their sex drive as outlined above.

Listen to your cycle and liberate your libido

Embracing the hormonal changes going on in our bodies gives us permission to enjoy the sexy highs or take it easy when we’re feeling low. If sex is taking a back seat in the luteal phase, go easy, as the hotter follicular phase is right around the corner. Understanding what’s going on in our bodies can help us relax and trust the process of our cycles, knowing sex is not just a means of procreating, but it’s also about feeling good, at the right time. If we get to know our libido cycle intimately, we might find our raging hormones are not just in our heads. And we can enjoy even more fulfilling and freeing sex, at the right time.

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