The fascinating ways your menstrual cycle affects your sex drive
You might hate your hormones for causing mood swings, cramps and sporadic breakouts.
But there’s a new reason to give them a break: scientists are discovering that your menstrual cycle can affect your sex drive in a way that’s totally worth taking advantage of.
Follow these daily tips for hotter sex every day of the month.
Day 1: Take control during sex
On the first day of your period you’ll feel extroverted and bold, thanks to a rise in the feel-good hormones oxytocin, testosterone and oestrogen. Your libido should be amped, too, so aim for all the pleasure you can. Woman-on-top is ideal because your clitoris is extra sensitive and you can control the depth and angle while he lies back and enjoys the view. If things get messy, throw a towel on the bed or take a shower before you get busy.
Day 2: Indulge in slow, sensual sex
You’re feeling good, because oestrogen and testosterone continue to rise today. “Oestrogen magnifies the five senses, so kisses feel more intense and your man looks more attractive to you, making sex a total mind-body experience,” says Gabrielle Lichterman, author of 28 Days. Light some candles, play slow tunes and satisfy each other from head to toe.
Day 3: Pamper him
“A surge in testosterone boosts your confidence in your union and makes any annoying habits your partner may have seem less grating,” Lichterman says. (His snoring may not become cute, but you get the idea.) So treat him to a spine-tingling massage. There’s no doubt he’ll return the favour.
Day 4: Think outside the box
Your right brain is famous for giving you creative ideas, and today tiny levels of rising oestrogen and testosterone boost the odds you’ll use this side of your mind. “You’re apt to feel more imaginative when it comes to brainstorming or making decisions,” Lichterman says. Your creativity will spill into the bedroom, too.
Day 5: Get competitive
“Your right brain may have been in charge yesterday, but today oestrogen and testosterone will increase even more, shifting the power to your analytical left brain,” Lichterman says. Testosterone also makes you competitive. Use that bold streak to challenge him to a naughty game, such as strip poker. If you win, so does your libido: according to a study published in The Journal Evolution and Human Behaviour, conquering a guy elevates your testosterone levels by 49%, making you even more amorous.
Day 6: Bond with your guy
By now, you should be feeling calm, rational and remarkably clear-headed. “Oestrogen gets another boost, making you social and articulate,” says Prof Jed Diamond, author of The Irritable Male Syndrome. So take advantage of your way with words and tell your guy exactly why you love him. He’ll eat it up.
Day 7: Sync up your sex drives
You’re still chatty due to elevated oestrogen levels, and as an added perk, “your energy will skyrocket”, Lichterman says. Since guys are often raring to go in the morning (their testosterone levels peak in the a.m.), take advantage of your extra adrenaline and hop in the shower.
Day 8: Have a quickie
Many women refrain (unnecessarily) from having sex until their periods are finished. Make up for lost time by getting busy in the middle of the afternoon, or pull him into an empty room during a party for some instant action.
Day 9-14: Fixate on him
You’ll start getting a big boost of oestrogen and testosterone during these six days, making you especially flirty. Your voice even becomes higher-pitched during this time, according to research. Because back in caveman days, choices in men were limited, and once ovulation occurred, women needed a coy way to snag a man during the final push. One potential problem: you may also have a wandering eye. Scientists say women fantasise about other men 160% more mid-cycle – yet the study authors found that women initiate sex with their partners a lot more during this time too. Keep the lights on so he has your complete attention and gaze into each other’s eyes during missionary.
Day 15-16: Stay connected
Welcome to pre-PMS (think PMS but shorter and less intense). Rising levels of noradrenaline and declining levels of testosterone and oestrogen may make you irritated and jealous when your guy drools over Gal Gadot. It’s biological: during days 12 through 21, women are super catty when it comes to judging the appearances of other women. “Evolutionarily speaking, when fertile women were competing for a mate, criticising other females may have helped catch him,” says lead study author and psychologist Prof Maryanne Fisher. Tune out other women by holing up together with takeout and a bottle of wine.
Day 17: Have solo sex
In order to combat the dip in oestrogen and testosterone and the rise in progesterone, you’ll need to take matters into your own hands. “Your clitoris and nipples may be less sensitive now and orgasms are slower to occur and weaker,” Prof Diamond says. Let him watch you masturbate: he’ll get off on the visuals and you’ll be turned on by his gaze. According to psychologist Prof Marta Meana, women can become aroused when they’re the object of desire.
Day 18: Cuddle up
Warning: although testosterone starts to rise again today, a boost in progesterone still has you feeling more cuddly than carnal, so unplug your phone, snuggle down with your guy and rent a chick flick. Girlie movies raise levels of oxytocin (the “snuggle hormone”) in both men and women, and research from Kansas University found that guys like rom-coms too. (Shh!)
Day 19-20: Take a break
“For these two days, your urge to nest and unwind may be stronger because progesterone levels jump, damping your desire to socialise,” Lichterman says. Why is progesterone such a downer? According to Lichterman, it drains your energy, lowering the risk that you’ll go out and damage your uterus in case fertilisation has occurred. Relive the early days – stay up all night talking and then stay in bed all day.
Day 21: Cook a romantic meal for him
You may find yourself wandering into the kitchen more than usual right now. Progesterone has caused an appetite spike, making you crave baked goods, salty treats, fats and carbs. The reason: your hormones want your body to be baby-ready in case you got preggers during ovulation. And according to Dr Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz, an ob-gyn, women need a certain amount of fat for optimal fertility. So why fight nature? Whip up a candlelit comfort meal for two.
Day 22: Tweak the usual positions
You may have to work a little harder to orgasm today because progesterone is blocking your testosterone receptors. So try this surefire way to stimulate your G-spot, says Prof Sandor Gardos, founder of the online adult toy store mypleasure.com: “Start by straddling your guy while you face his feet. Once you’re comfortable, lean back so you’re lying flat on top of him.” Then enjoy the ride.
Day 23-24: Set the mood
That inevitable time of moderate misery has come: PMS. Declining levels of progesterone and oestrogen from days 23 through 28 can make you weepy – or bitchy. If you’re not feeling psyched about your body right now (bloat can do that to a girl), wear your hottest lingerie, dim the lights, or do whatever it takes to feel sexy. Just don’t get a bikini wax. Researchers found that women are extra sensitive to pain at this time of the month. The good news is that scientists say that during sex, men focus on a woman’s face more than her body – meaning he won’t notice that you’re retaining two kilos’ worth of water.
Day 25: Focus on your O
Chances are, you’re feeling frisky. “One reason is that your endometrium [the lining of the uterus] is thickening, promoting blood flow to your genitals, which boosts libido,” Dr Gilberg-Lenz says. And although your orgasms should be intense, it may take longer than usual to get there because a decline in oestrogen and testosterone will leave you easily distracted by your surroundings. Try a little dirty talk to stay in the moment and make sure the door is locked – scientists found that when women remove outside distractions they become aroused in 12 minutes flat.
Day 26-28: Conquer new territory
Your boobs may ache (tell your guy hands off today), but “your endometrium continues to thicken, stimulating your nerve endings down below, which increases your libido significantly,” Lichterman says. Since creativity is at an all-time high, it’s the perfect time to discover new erogenous zones. Experiment with various types of touch on your favourite body parts.
This article was originally published on www.womenshealthsa.co.za
Image credit: iStock