Can a New Sex Partner Change Your Menstrual Cycle?

If you’re in a new relationship, it’s likely that you’ve heard rumors that sex can cause your period to change or come early. But is this really true?

In reality, sex doesn’t make your period late or earlier. However, there are several reasons that your periods may be changing.

1. Hormonal Changes

Women experience hormone fluctuations throughout their menstrual cycles. These fluctuations influence the way a woman feels, and can even impact her sex life and sexual desire. For example, a drop in estrogen around the time of ovulation can make you less sexually interested. It can also trigger premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms such as bloating, anxiety and mood changes.

The first phase of the menstrual cycle, from period bleed to ovulation, is called the follicular phase. The ovaries produce estrogen and progesterone during this time. Symptoms like headache and trouble sleeping can be associated with this phase. This is because when estrogen drops during this time, serotonin levels decrease as well, making you feel blah.

However, a rise in progesterone during this time helps boost your mood, so it’s not all bad. The ovulation process, which happens mid-cycle and is triggered by a surge in luteinizing hormone, causes the egg to release from the ovary. This leads to the second phase of the menstrual cycle, the luteal phase. During this phase, the body produces progesterone and starts to prepare for pregnancy.

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If you notice that your periods are becoming irregular or if they’re missing completely for repeated months, talk to your doctor about it. Your doctor may recommend a pelvic exam and hormone testing to determine the cause of the change.

2. Intimacy

Intimacy is a feeling of closeness and connection in a relationship. It is usually associated with physical closeness, like sex, but can also be felt through emotional and other forms of intimacy, including sharing emotions, supporting each other during hard times, and doing chores together.

Having a sense of intimacy is a big part of the satisfaction people feel in their relationships. It’s also important for a person’s overall health and wellbeing, as it can help them reduce their stress level, lower blood pressure, and protect against heart disease. Intimacy can be found in romantic relationships, but can also happen between close friends or family members.

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It’s also important to remember that intimate sex can affect a woman’s menstrual cycle, even if it doesn’t result in pregnancy. When a woman has intense sex with someone during the fertile window, it can lead to an irregular or lighter period in the following month.

While it’s not always easy, it is possible to experience intimacy with a new partner without having sex. You can show physical closeness through things like giving a back rub or kissing, and you can build emotional intimacy by talking openly about feelings, and helping each other through difficult times. This type of intimacy can be just as satisfying and beneficial to your health as sexual intimacy.

3. Stress

Stress can impact every part of your body, including your menstrual cycle. That’s because if you’re constantly feeling frazzled, your brain will produce a hormone called cortisol, which impacts the hypothalamus—the same area that regulates menstrual cycles. When your levels of cortisol are high, they can stop ovulation in its tracks and cause you to miss your period [1].

While it’s not possible to completely avoid stress-inducing situations, finding healthy ways to cope with those moments can help prevent them from impacting your menstrual cycle, like practicing mindfulness, getting enough sleep and exercising regularly. If you think that your periods have been impacted by chronic stress, it’s a good idea to speak with a doctor—especially if your periods are incredibly irregular.

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If you’ve had sex with a new partner since the pandemic started, make sure to talk about how safe your methods are. “Ask a lot of questions, and be honest,” says Millheiser. This includes if you’ve used a condom, when your last STI test was, and what you do for birth control. It may also be helpful to bring up your own concerns and expectations about sexually transmitted infections with your partner before you start having sex, as it can help them feel prepared. “Make it a conversation you want to have and it will go much smoother,” Skurtu adds.

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