How Queer Period Sex Changed My Relationship to Period Pain
I’ve been telling people for years that queer period sex almost cured my period pain. If my teenage self could see me now, out, talking about periods and sex all in the same sentence – they would have a heart attack. And sometimes that shame still creeps in. Sometimes mid sentence. But the truth of my experience forces the words out of my mouth anyways.
I have been chronically ill my entire life with no formal diagnosis. And more than chronically ill, I’ve been in chronic pain. The earliest I remember having intense pain, I was 9 years old. I was doubled over in my bedroom screaming with intense abdominal pain. I remember overhearing the adults downstairs talking while my mom tried to console me. Somebody suggested that it might be period pain. I heard my dad respond, “for the love of god if it’s that, I don’t want to know.” I think he was making a joke. Unfortunately, that’s not how it landed in my body.
I continued to struggle with chronic pain throughout my entire adolescence. Period pain, hip pain, shoulder pain, ankle pain, chest pain, jaw pain, you name it. And each kind of pain came with its own iteration of shame. Shame for missing school, shame for not being able to walk anywhere, shame for not being able to consistently perform as an athlete, shame for having a period that prevented me from doing anything, shame for experiencing pain during sex.
Shame put my pain in a closet.
You see where this is going.
In order to appear worthy, sane and competent I twisted my stories. Gave what I perceived to be more reasonable excuses for my pain. Pulled abdominal muscle was my go-to for period pain. Pain taught me how to lie, how to hide and most importantly how to hate my body.
I came out publicly shortly after graduating high school and spent my early 20’s doing baby gay things and doing them in pain. My pain never let up. My ability to talk about my pain however, started to shift the further I leaned into my queerness. There is an openness in the queer community that I never ever felt in straight company. Hairy armpits, hairy legs, body odour, sex, mental health, poverty, trauma, periods – everything was fair game. They talked about and did things I would not have been caught dead doing as a straight, shame filled teen. But I was older, gayer and less ashamed these days and so I started talking about my pain. And my period.
Talking about my pain openly in some ways allowed me to feel all the pain I had been repressing for so long. So for a few years, my pain was the worst it had ever been. But I was supported. It felt safe to be in pain, to express it, to seek help. This newfound safety my queer community provided me was the first of many steps in my healing process.
Fast forward almost a decade, countless failed medical interventions and I’ve got a new date. They love period sex and they are unashamed in their pursuit of pleasure. Don’t get me wrong, I’d had plenty of period sex before this – but it was just an inconvenience that we worked around. This person wanted it and they were vocal about it. Sex can be hard for people with endometriosis (like me) but period sex can be almost non-negotiable because of the amount of pain we’re in while bleeding.
So, we eased into it. Their excitement and anticipation around my period excited me. For the first time in my life, I was counting down the days until my next period because it meant play time. And the obsession only grew from there.
It wasn’t until a couple of months in that I realized, instead of the instant and crippling anxiety I felt in anticipation of the pain that always followed the beginning of my period – I was thinking about sex. About pleasure. About loving my body. About being loved. That’s when everything changed.
Could I change my relationship to my pain by allowing myself to feel pleasure in spite of it? Alongside of it?
We are taught to be ashamed of pleasure our entire lives – especially if you’re queer and your sex and pleasure is viewed as perverse by society to begin with. Pleasure felt like something I could never speak about, ask for or pursue. Pleasure was something I deemed myself unworthy of and never thought to question. But this date took that belief piece by piece and unraveled the story I’d been telling myself my entire life. First, they gave me permission, then I gave it to myself.
I leaned in. I leaned into loving my body. I leaned into pursuing pleasure shamelessly and often. Queerness was the first thing I ever loved about myself. My ability to experience pleasure was the second. And I don’t think those two things can be separated.
For me, queerness is rooted in the pursuit of pleasure. It’s about choosing love and joy and yourself over and over again. Queerness is about the shedding of shame and the slow often arduous journey into accepting yourself. Just as you are. Freak included.
When I released the shame, fear and anxiety that had been so deeply rooted in my body from decades of consistent pain and internalized homophobia I was able to make room for pleasure. The pain didn’t disappear. I still had endometriosis and chronic pain, but my relationship to that pain changed drastically. Through kink, sex and bdsm I learned to let pain and pleasure co-exist within me simultaneously. And to my incredible surprise - this practice somehow lowered my pain to a level I never thought possible.
So, when I say queer period sex cured my period pain. It didn’t. But it did change me. It brought me home to a body that felt safe enough to explore for the first time in my life. That feeling of safety is what calmed my nervous system enough that I was able to better manage my pain. It’s this lesson specifically that inspired me to create somedays and guides almost everything we do. The radical idea that there is always room for pleasure, we just have to feel safe and brave enough to access it.