I am a 24-year-old woman. My boyfriend and I have been together for ages and enjoy some amazing sex. However, there is one area we cannot seem to reconcile – the dreaded period. While I am on my period, my sex drive often goes through the roof, but he is unable to perform at the thought of the inevitable mess, particularly the blood itself. I find this highly frustrating and I’m sure he does, too, although he’s too polite to say it. Am I unreasonable to expect him to put up with a little mess? My previous boyfriend never had this issue.

Different people have different views, feelings and boundaries regarding many aspects of physical intimacy and these are often non-negotiable. It is important to respect each other’s limits generally, and it would be very unwise to push for penetrative sex during menstruation since that is obviously a turn-off for him. But you could surely find creative ways to have highly erotic, non-penetrative sex that could avoid “messiness” and be comfortable and satisfying for you both. Examples might be erotic conversation, touching, massage, role playing and playing with sex toys. Reassure him that you will respect his comfort level, then reframe your menstrual period as an opportunity to explore new erotic options and fantasies. You may find that setting the necessary limits and embarking on daring experimentation could lead to thrilling rewards for both of you.

Pamela Stephenson Connolly is a US-based psychotherapist who specialises in treating sexual disorders.

If you would like advice from Pamela on sexual matters, send us a brief description of your concerns to private.lives@theguardian.com (please don’t send attachments). Submissions are subject to our terms and conditions: see gu.com/letters-terms.

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