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How my menstrual cycle affects my orgasms

woman in pain on couch
Photo Credit: Polina Zimmerman on Pexels.com

By Leo Aquino

Some days, it only takes a coy smile and a light breeze to arouse me. Other days, it takes a village of porn, erotica, lube, extra foreplay, and a hard-working partner for me to even get there.

I used to think these urges were completely random — until I started tracking my cycle and learning about my hormones.

When I talk about the “menstrual cycle,” I’m not just talking about Shark Week. The menstrual cycle actually refers to the 21-35 day cycle that makes ovulation and menstruation possible.

Using a popular cycle-tracking app called Clue and my trusty Lioness Vibrator, I found out how all the different parts of my menstrual cycle influence my orgasms.

Clue and Lioness: A winning combo for sexual wellness

Clue is a health app that uses a clean interface to track symptoms throughout the menstrual cycle. You can track pretty much everything, ranging from cramps, sex drive, sleep patterns, food cravings and acne.

The app makes it really easy to understand how the reproductive cycle affects all parts of our lives:

  • I learned that my cycle is on the longer end of the spectrum at 33-34 days instead of the average 28 days.
  • I now know that I need to moisturize my skin more to maintain that estrogen-induced orgasm glow while I’m ovulating.
  • Instead of grabbing for cheap candy and sugary snacks that are gonna make my PMDD breakouts worse, I make it a point to get something on the healthier side to satisfy my cravings.

clue app and lioness app alongside each other

Side-by-side screenshots of Clue and Lioness apps.

Most importantly, when used side by side with my Lioness Vibrator, I learned more about my arousal and sexual preferences, and how they can change depending on where I am in my cycle.

Follicular phase

What is the follicular phase?

The follicular phase starts just after menstruation ends.

Fluid-filled pockets form in the ovaries, and each of them contain an egg. During these few days, the follicles release estrogen into the body.(1)

While some people associate estrogen with femininity, I find myself feeling more creative, curious and eager to explore. I’m more curious in my use of erotica and fantasy. I allow myself more time to discover new things that turn me on.

Orgasms during the follicular phase: foreplay over everything

Sometimes, I just wanna get my nut and go about my day. Today was not one of those days, bro. It takes a longer time for me to get aroused during the follicular phase, but I don’t mind at all. I’m excited about the stamina to experiment and learn.

Leo's arousal and orgasm during follicular phase

Screenshot of Leo's arousal and orgasm during the follicular phase.

Even though I was easily aroused, I was more willing to make more time for foreplay and erotica to maximize that sweet sweet estrogen-supported orgasm. During my session, I pulled back when I felt the sensations becoming more intense, and when I finally surrendered to the pulses, my orgasms came like an explosion.

Ovulation

What is ovulation?

The follicular phase ends when one lucky follicle protrudes forward, while the rest of the follicles get absorbed back into the ovaries. That one follicle contains an egg, which will eventually travel down the fallopian tubes and into the uterus.(1)

This is the time of the month that vagina-owners are most fertile, which means that we’re most likely to get pregnant. We’re also producing the highest levels of estrogen just before the egg leaves the follicle, which makes us even more horny.

Orgasms and ovulation: no bedroom jams needed. Let’s GOOOOO!

On the whole, I’m more attracted to women and non-binary people. But the estrogen surge renders me practically blind.

I find myself attracted to people who wouldn’t normally pique my interest — gross cis dudes with problematic politics, Alexis from Schitt’s Creek (the rich girl thing is so not my vibe, no offense!), and random people at the grocery store in dirty pants.

I imagine one of the Hormone Monsters from Big Mouth growling in my ear: “Anyone will do, kid. Just get your nut.”

Leo's orgasm/arousal during ovulation

Screenshot of Leo's arousal and orgasm during ovulation.

Nevertheless, my orgasms during ovulation were magical and intense.

I had three big orgasms, and I was totally ready to hit more. I’m sharing one session during my ovulation in this one post, but best believe, there are three or four more sessions that had me screaming my own name.

Estrogen, cheers to you, my friend.

Luteal Phase

What is the luteal phase?

Once the egg leaves the follicle, the follicle releases another hormone called progesterone.

Some people have called progesterone the cock-blocking hormone(2), but, personally, I see things differently.

Progesterone is a natural painkiller — it’s the hormone that allows people to survive the intense pain of childbirth(3).

For those of us who enjoy a little consensual pain with their pleasure, progesterone does wonders.

Orgasms during the luteal phase: hello, Progesterone, my old friend.

During the luteal phase of my menstrual cycle, I feel super calm, reflective and happy.

My sex drive is still high, but it certainly feels different than the come-hither vibes of ovulation.

Leo's arousal and orgasm during the luteal phase

Screenshot of Leo's arousal and orgasm during the luteal phase.

My vaginal muscles were activated, and I found myself taking long, slow strokes that resulted in an intense orgasm. Instead of being a total horndog, this orgasm felt much more meditative. I felt pulses throughout my whole body.

10 out of 10, I highly recommend.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder: thank Goddess for my vibrator.

As menses approaches, both progesterone and estrogen levels dip. Throughout the entire cycle, testosterone levels stay constant(1).

But since progesterone and estrogen are low during this time, testosterone levels become dominant, causing irritability, mood swings, and the occasional hormonal breakout.(4)

The vagina also creates more discharge to prepare us for Shark Week, which also means there’s more natural lube to work with. Plus, bloating puts pressure on the g-spot, making it a little more sensitive.(5)

Leo's orgasm and arousal during a period of PMDD

Screenshot of Leo's arousal and orgasm during PMDD.

Because I have PMDD, the week before my period is always a struggle. Masturbating helps me get through the pain of premenstrual cramps while providing a fun distraction.

My vagina feels so much more sensitive before my period and my orgasms are intense. I can tolerate the most forceful thrusting during this time, and I never wanna stop. More, please!

Menstruation

What is menstruation?

Technically, our period signals day one of an ~28-day menstrual cycle. Hormone levels remain low, and the uterine lining sheds(1) all over unexpecting underwear.

On the upside, the blood makes great natural lubrication for those who enjoy period sex.

When we’re ovulating, estrogen is high and the cervix sits near the low abdomen. This combo makes more space for deep penetration, heightened arousal and intense pleasure.

But while we’re on our period, the cervix sits lower in the body to dispel uterine lining. Because of the cervix position and hormone deficit, we might not enjoy sex as much during this time(6).

Orgasms during period: brb, going to sleep for 3 days.

In the past, I’ve had great period sex. Recently, period sex hasn’t been so pleasant because I experience gender dysphoria.

I don’t wanna be touched. I don’t wanna be seen. And I sure as hell don’t want to worry about anyone else’s pleasure but my own.

For me, this session was rather mechanical, and it shows.

Leo's arousal and orgasm during menses

Screenshot of Leo's arousal and orgasm during menses.

Compared to my sessions during other parts of my menstrual cycle, my muscles were less forceful around the vibrator, and I just… wasn’t really motivated to keep going.

Menstrual cycles and orgasms: you can have good sex anytime. Period.

Thanks to my Lioness Vibrator and Clue apps, I can finally make sense of all these random urges that come over me while I’m shopping for a good sourdough loaf at the store, instead of feeling like a total creep.

Learning about your cycle can help you communicate how you want to receive pleasure.

For example, I know to ask for deeper penetration during ovulation or luteal phase. I also know how to ask for my space when I’m bleeding.

Armed with new knowledge about the relationship between my cycle and my arousal, I know what turns me on — any place, any time.


Bibliography

  1. What happens during the typical 28-day menstrual cycle?” (2018). Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
  2. The relationship between progesterone and sex drive in women may help you regain desire.” (2020). BodyLogicMD.
  3. “Luteal Analgesia:” Progesterone Dissociates Pain Intensity and Unpleasantness by Influencing Emotion Regulation Networks. 2018. Katy Vincent, Charlotte J. Stagg, Catherine E. Warnaby, et. al. US National Library of Medicine. National Institutes of Health.
  4. How the Menstrual Cycle Affects Acne.” 2020. Angela Palmer. Verywellhealth.
  5. “Why do some people get horny before their period?” 2019. Lauren Sharkey. Healthline.
  6. Sex, sensation and the menstrual cycle.” 2017. Anna Druet. Clue.


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