Nolwen Cifuentes is a photographer that is confronting the stigma that surrounds periods. She documents couples having sex while on their periods.
Her work, Period Piece, features queer couples enjoying period sex and, in doing so, the audience is forced to confront their feelings in relation to period sex. The series addresses the shame that so many people still feel about intimacy while on a period. To the photographer, periods should not be connected to feelings of shame and, therefore, people should not be disgusted by the idea of having sex with someone while they have their period.
On a wider level, the audience is also able to question the idea that women are, somehow, unapproachable while they are menstruating and that many women feel the need to keep the fact that they have their period a secret from everyone else. These images act in contrast to advertisements for sanitary products that encourage women to be as discreet as possible when it comes to their period.
The photographs, therefore, start a conversation about periods in general and, as women are encouraged to keep their periods a secret, the idea that they should want to have sex or be intimate during this time is unconceivable to many.
The photographer chose to only photograph women in order to create what she felt was a safer space. Cifuentes also sees having period sex as a way of bonding with a partner and feeling safer with them because you know that they support you and accept you while you are bleeding.
Periods are something that most women experience every month and so the idea that they are never discussed seemed bizarre to the photographer who also questioned the lack of menstruation themes in female protagonist’s lives in film and TV. This series acts as a way of opening the door to exposing us to periods in order to normalise them.
The photographer had trouble getting the images published at first because of the subject matter of the images, however, once they were published in Salty magazine she received positive feedback from people who were glad to finally find art that was addressing periods and period sex.