A lot of different factors can affect your libido — not least of all, your menstrual cycle. Wondering why your sex drive is all over the place throughout the month? Keep reading to learn what to expect.

During your period
Feeling an overwhelming urge to fling off your period panties and have sex? Though your testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone are all at their lowest at this time, which would suggest your libido would be low, that’s not always the case. During your period, your pelvic area becomes engorged with menstrual fluid. You get that same feeling of pelvic congestion when you’re turned on, so during your period, the feeling might translate into or trigger horniness.

Your odds of getting pregnant are lower when you’re menstruating, and that can be good for your sex life. “. . . this may free women to feel more sexual during this time,” Columbia University’s health website, Go Ask Alice, explains. And if you’ve had sex during your period in the past, you may also have some very happy associations with it — your cervix drops a little lower when you’re menstruation, giving the nerve endings there more stimulation.

Before ovulation
About a week after the first day of your period, you can expect those hormones to start rising — and your interest in sex may rise with them. Remember, though you can get pregnant anytime, even during your period, this is when you start getting more fertile, so make sure your protection is on point.

During ovulation
Feeling frisky about two weeks before your period starts? Researchers have found that during ovulation, women tend to have more blood flow to the genital area when watching an erotic video. They even report better orgasms. You can thank the surge of hormones, (especially testosterone), which are at their highest at this time, and pheromones, which all work together to signal to your body that it’s baby-making time. If your head disagrees though, making sure you’re using protection during this fertile period.

After ovulation
You also know this time as PMS. But there’s good news. Remember that cervix drop and extra nerve ending stimulation that happens during your period? This is when the process gets started, so if you have sex in between the bloating and the cramping, you might have some extra fun with it. But if you’re not in the mood, don’t push yourself just for the cramp-busting benefits of an orgasm (yep, seriously). Low levels of estrogen can put a serious damper on your mood at this time, so you may want to be left alone. Luckily, an orgasm can soothe cramps when you’re flying solo, too!

Bottom line: Your menstrual cycle can be somewhat of a rollercoaster, with a lot of ups and downs for your libido. So when it comes to getting down, listen to both your body and brain, and don’t worry about when you “should” be feeling frisky.

Diana Vilibert is a freelance writer and copywriter living in Brooklyn, NY. She loves flea markets, martinis, to-do lists, traveling, and wearing leggings as pants. You can see more of her writing at www.dianavilibert.com and follow her on Twitter at @dianavilibert.