A woman's hand holding a menstrual cup with a storage bag next to it on a pink surface

How the menstrual cycle
affects your sex drive

By Natural Cycles
July 19, 2023

Noticed a dip in sex drive right before your period arrives? Or maybe there’s a time of the month when you’re often in the mood. We’ve teamed up with the creators of the hormone-free birth control app, Natural Cycles, to take a closer look at libido and how it’s naturally impacted by the ebb and flow of the menstrual cycle.

Understanding your cycle

Before we dive into the sexy stuff, let’s zoom out and look at some menstrual cycle basics. Your menstrual cycle begins on the first day of your period and is split into two phases: the follicular phase and the luteal phase with ovulation happening roughly in the middle.

The cycle is regulated by a bunch of hormones, but the two main players we’re going to talk about today are the main female sex hormones: estrogen and progesterone. It’s the fluctuation of these hormones that can have a direct impact on how we’re feeling and even how our skin is looking - and yes, they can impact our sex drive too!

Keep in mind that if you’re using hormonal birth control, such as the pill, your menstrual cycle likely won’t follow this pattern as the hormones in this type of birth control alter the cycle in order to prevent pregnancy. It’s still totally normal to notice shifts in libido if you’re on hormonal birth control and this can be caused by any number of things, including external factors such as stress.

High sex drive after period

Everyone is different, but typically speaking sex drive usually increases as we approach our most fertile. You may notice your sex drive starting to rise a few days after your period has finished in the days leading up to ovulation. It’s during this time when you may notice other energy levels are high too! This is thanks to the hormone estrogen which peaks around about ovulation day.

Increased sex drive during ovulation

You may find your sex drive peaks around ovulation day itself. This is at the end of the fertile window as female egg cells can only survive for about 24 hours once they are released. After this point the fertile window closes. The day that you ovulate may change from cycle to cycle, and because ovulation is hidden, it’s not always obvious when it happens! As well as a peak in sex drive you may notice a few other subtle symptoms such as ovulation pain or changes to cervical fluid.

Low sex drive after ovulation

It’s common to experience a slump in libido after ovulation day. The levels of the hormone estrogen have declined at this point, while the levels of the hormone progesterone are high. One of the roles of these hormones is to prepare the body for pregnancy, but for some of us it comes with a slew of unwanted PMS symptoms, such as tender breasts, mood swings and headaches. And yes, unfortunately, it can also be a cause of low sex drive.

Sex drive and your period

Progesterone levels drop immediately before we get our period, and this is the body’s natural cue to start shedding the lining of the uterus and so a new cycle begins! While some of us may still be feeling a bit under the weather with physical symptoms such as period cramps, it’s actually not uncommon to experience a spike in sex drive at the start of our cycles.

Whether or not period sex is your thing is up to you, but the endorphins you get from orgasms may actually offer some pain relief against period cramps.

A fluctuating sex drive is normal

While hormonal changes can be responsible for shifts in our sex drive, there are many other factors at play. Libido levels vary from person to person, and you may notice that your own sex drive fluctuates throughout your life. While a low sex drive is not an immediate cause for concern, if you have any worries, it’s always worth discussing any changes you notice with your doctor.

Prevent pregnancy naturally

Getting to know your menstrual cycle unlocks a whole new learning experience, from spotting patterns in your mood changes to knowing when you’re fertile. With Natural Cycles temperature-based birth control, you can go one step further and use it to prevent pregnancy.

93% effective with typical use and 98% effective with perfect use, Natural Cycles is tailored to your unique fertile window. Sign up for Natural Cycles and use the code WISP20 to get a 20% discount plus a free thermometer today.

Keep reading