The first time was with a long-term partner, consensual, premised with “I don’t mind!” and the keen lust that occurs in those early years of dating.

The second time was unexpected and somewhat unwanted – a first date that escalated quickly and resulted in me throwing out my bed sheets the next day.

The third worried it was his own blood, “it’s happened before”, then held his bloodied hand up to the light and admired the glisten, not fearful or grossed out, calm and respectful knowing it was natural.

The last time was by myself in an attempt to relieve menstrual cramps, which had gotten worse since getting a copper IUD, it kind of worked but drugs are faster and more effective (for me).

Period sex has been on the menu for a while now, however, it’s only recently getting the airtime it deserves.

Periods remain taboo across cultures, we in the West still associate it with uncleanliness, continue to censor it in sanitary item commercials (periods aren’t blue, guys), and refer to it metaphorically i.e. that time of the month, shark week, Aunt Flo etc. However, dare I say, at least women in countries like Australia have the “privilege” of going to work and school while having their periods, as opposed to being ostracized from their communities, schools, homes and workplaces. This really happens. I understand my privilege as a cis, white woman with a pretty seamless history of menstruation, I understand my privilege allows me to flirt with the idea of period sex and write this article in the first place. In saying that I understand that this article will still crinkle noses and challenge people’s ideas of sexy sex.

Award winning U.S TV show Crazy Ex Girlfriend, created by Rachel Bloom, features a musical ode to period sex, which the network CW actually cut when it originally aired the episode deeming it “too dirty” for TV. Bloom released the full version online and was met with a resounding “YAS!” From women and feminist fans of the show.

You can watch the full version here.

Another show that addresses the societal shift towards optional period sex is Younger, created by Darren Star (Sex & The City). In the episode ‘A Night At The Opera’ the central character Liza (in her 40’s) and her younger boyfriend Josh (20’s) have a conversation about having sex while she has her period, Josh is pro and Liza is uncomfortable and unsure, she says “maybe it’s a generational thing”. Liza then talks to her bff, Maggie, about it and asks if she is into it. Maggie, who is gay, says if she didn’t get down with period sex she’d hardly ever have sex, unless of course her and her girlfriend were fortunate to synch up. Whether or not this is an accurate depiction of people’s perception of period sex, kudos for putting it on the Telly!

What this says to me is that there is a shift towards a more open, progressive and authentic understanding of what sex is like, or at least there are some people out there who are challenging the otherwise very glossy depiction of the kind of sex we’re supposedly having.

Now, period sex is not for everyone, because periods are not the same for everyone. Non binary individuals and men who get periods are less inclined to want to relish in something that has been associated with femaleness and womaness for centuries. Women whose periods are painful due to conditions such as endometriosis, or are negatively effected by birth control may not want to have sex on their period, because during that time the idea of doing anything other than sleeping or lying in the bath seems like hell. Women whose periods are particularly heavy or cause them to bloat may experience feeling self conscious or “unsexy”. However, for a bunch of people, having their period can make them feel sexy as hell. Your progesterone is at an all time low, which means your libido can kick into overdrive. You have an abundance of natural lubrication; which if you’re worried about mess lay a dark towel down or fool around in the shower! Also orgasms can help relieve cramps, so make this a priority if you’re the one in pain.

If you are having sex with one or more persons, you will of course have to get their enthusiastic consent first, please let them know there is a good chance “there will be blood”. If they haven’t had period sex before and they want to try it out but half way through they realize it’s not for them, don’t be offended! Stop, and respect that it’s an individual choice, blood can be scary if you’re not used to it. I’d also like to note there are many ways of having sex that can completely bypass menstrual blood when someone has their period e.g. non penetrative sex where the person who has their period uses a tampon or menstrual cup to conceal any visible bleeding. You don’t have to have sex on your period, and no one can make you have sex with them while on their period, but you can talk about it.

MENSTRUAL BLOOD IS NATURAL, NORMAL AND NOT AT ALL DIRTY AND IT’S TIME WE TALK ABOUT IT AND REPRESENT IT IN THOSE TERMS.

This article was first published for neutral.love

“If you are not enough for yourself
you will never be enough
for someone else”
— RUPI KAUR

There have been many times I’ve felt ‘not enough’, and those times were usually when I spent too much time with other people – invested in their lives, and failed to nurture myself.

It is not an easy thing to say, ‘I am enough for myself’, or to acknowledge that you deserve to take care of yourself. We can mistake social occasions, acts of love for others, and work as fulfilling, because mostly they are. However, these are all times when you are giving, and without taking time to replenish or receive you can be left feeling empty, lacking, or not enough.

When you are single it seems like you have so much time for yourself, a bed all to yourself and a clear schedule with no co-dependents to consider. But your calendar can very quickly become full with first dates, going out, brunch with friends, more work because you’re “really focusing on a career right now” and hangovers. We fail to schedule ‘me time’, because we fail to see that we are enough. Often in times when we are single we expel a lot of energy in trying not to be single anymore, even if we do say things like “I’m not interested in dating anyone at the moment” or “I just want to do my own thing for a while”. We are human, we are social creatures and we rely on sex and intimacy for survival, so it is perfectly natural that we invest so much time in making that happen. But what would it look like to actually commit time to yourself?

When you are in a relationship it becomes even harder to commit that time to yourself, and part of you neglects to see the significance. This is when we begin to lose ourselves and stray far from the people we were before we got into the relationship. It is fine and normal to get wrapped up in a new romance – the date and time of day doesn’t seem to matter anymore and either does… say… wearing pants! But then reality sets in and when that happens all of a sudden your plans become “our” plans, and ‘me time’ becomes sparse or non-existent. What you are saying when you fail to value yourself, alone, is that you are not enough. We prioritize others because we love them and enjoy giving love, and receiving love in return – it feels reciprocal, and for the most part it is. But what happens when your person can’t give one day, or the next… or the next? Will you be enough for yourself when they can’t?

‘Me time’ takes practice and commitment.

A few years ago I was struggling to do anything creative, I had lost my motivation to write and had no confidence to perform. A friend gave me a copy of The Artist’s Way (this is not an endorsement) and although I never finished it, the one take away for me was the concept of the ‘artist date’. This means committing to one creative date per week, like visiting a gallery, seeing a play or reading a book, the only condition being you have to do it alone, just you and your artist-self. I had to value myself enough to make that effort, something I would have done easily for someone else, but struggled to for ‘just me’. Slowly I started to gain confidence and really enjoyed my own company, and eventually my creativity came back because I was nurturing that part of myself. I accepted that I was enough.

Before a lack of ‘me time’ becomes an issue for you, make that commitment to yourself right now.

Clear some space in your schedule just for you, make a date, and don’t compromise. Take yourself to that movie you want to see, that café you’ve always wanted to try, that band no one else likes, masturbate! Stay in on a Saturday night for some self care or get in your car and go for a drive.

Just for you. No one else.

This article was first published for neutral.love

At least once a year at Christmas or for my birthday, my mother will buy me a pair of pajamas, without fail. When I receive my soft-centered parcel, I immediately look at my sister and laugh, we both know what’s inside. Mum laughs now too, she knows it’s predictable. What she doesn’t know is that I don’t wear pajamas.

Actually, that’s not entirely true, I just don’t wear them to bed.

I am all for curling up on the couch in bed socks, flannelette PJs and a robe (only in winter of course), but when bedtime rolls around it’s time to get the kit off. There’s nothing quite like sliding into a freshly made bed, clean sheets pulled tight, your skin soft against an even softer thread count; all the better if there’s a warm body to nestle into.

Some people are of the belief that in winter it’s too cold to sleep naked, but the truth is that often we overheat ourselves during sleep by wearing too many layers. The body’s temperature naturally drops during sleep, it’s meant to do that, so by wearing pajamas you are disrupting the natural cycle and probably encouraging a restless sleep. I loath the transition from the cozy lounge room to the bedroom on cold nights, but a way to avoid the chill is by warming up your room and bed half an hour or so beforehand. A little portable heater to take the bite out of the air and perhaps an electric blanket or a couple of hot water bottles/ heat packs in between the sheets to make sleeping naked just that little bit more inviting.

To elaborate on why it’s important to allow the body’s temperature to drop naturally during sleep; this is when the body releases melatonin and the human growth hormone. These hormones will help your sleep and wake cycles, as well as regeneration; the human growth hormone is what will help you look and feel young and healthy.

What I like most about sleeping naked is the intimacy factor; whether I am sleeping alone or with someone else. There is a lovely sense of freedom, softness and vulnerability that comes with being naked. We spend most of our lives in clothes, often clothes that alter our true form; ‘something to bring you in at the waist, these will make you look taller, black is slimming!’ This paired with Photoshop and Instagram filters, few of us know or value our real bodies. Being naked for at least 8 hours out of 24 will give you the chance to get familiar with your most authentic self, and this familiarity or comfortability will no doubt help you to love yourself just the way you are. Being naked with someone else is a sometimes a scary prospect so the more time you spend getting comfortable in your own skin by yourself, the more confident you will be with someone else. Sleeping skin to skin releases Oxytocin ‘the love hormone’, so doing this with a partner/s will bring you closer and in most cases result in a more fulfilling love/ sex life.

Of course it is ok to not sleep naked if that’s not your thing – your comfort comes first. But if you have been curious about the benefits of sleeping naked now you have a few reasons to give it a try. At the very least, try sleeping without underwear, maybe just wear an oversized T-shirt or nightie. Underwear is restricting and can negatively impact the natural bacteria of genitals; for people with vulvas wearing tight underwear can cause or prolong conditions such as thrush or vaginitis which thrive in moist and warm places. It’s best to allow genitals and your skin to breath at night, as there is little opportunity to do this during the day.

This life hack is something I can credit my mum for, she may love pajamas but rule number one in our childhood bedtime routine was strictly “no undies!” So for that invaluable life lesson, I will always accept my annual pair of PJs with gratitude (a giggle and a little side eye to my sister).

This article was first published for neutral.love