Wait, I’m Sorry, What Is a Rainbow Kiss?

Google the phrase “rainbow kiss” and you might just find a bunch of videos of other people Googling the phrase “rainbow kiss.” After a handful of folks went viral documenting their rainbow-kiss-Google journey on TikTok, the term has experienced a surge in popularity—but the actual rainbow kiss itself remains shrouded in mystery, thanks in large part to its adorable (and highly euphemistic) name.

No, a rainbow kiss is not the newest Kylie Cosmetics lip kit shade. It’s not the title of the latest My Little Pony flick, either. And it’s definitely not the name of JoJo Siwa’s clothing line at Target. It’s a sex act involving semen and menstrual blood, and it’s usually performed by consenting adults who share some sort of a bodily fluids fetish. Think of it like snowballing—swapping semen from one partner’s mouth to another’s—with a twist.

Dr. Wendasha Jenkins Hall, PhD, an Atlanta-based sex educator and founder of The Sensible Sexpert, says the rainbow kiss, which typically starts out in the 69 position, likely evolved from good ol’ fashioned period sex.

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“You’ve heard the term ‘running the red light?’” she asks, referring to penetrative or oral sex performed while a partner is menstruating. “This is a level up from that.” And while a rainbow kiss is certainly not the most common sex act around, Hall says it’s just one activity on a spectrum of sexual activities that people with various bodily fluid kinks and fetishes can enjoy.

But is it really safe to swap bodily fluids like blood and semen between partners? And what should you know before you try a rainbow kiss with your partner? Read on for answers to those questions and more.

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What is a rainbow kiss?

A rainbow kiss happens when a person with a penis goes down on a person with a uterus during their period, while they also receive oral sex. It’s essentially 69-ing while one person menstruates. Once both partners have ejaculated in each other’s mouths, the couple kisses, mixing menstrual blood with semen in the process, thus the ~rainbow~ part of the rainbow kiss. And voilà!

“A rainbow kiss is a great way for everyone to enjoy the few minutes of cathartic bliss right after you both orgasm. Consider that the goal,” explains Danyell Fima, co-founder of Velvet Co. Hall explains that rainbow kisses fit on the broader spectrum of kinks associated with bodily fluids: Some people like to play with urine, spit, fecal matter, semen, and/or blood.

“A rainbow kiss is probably an elevated version of fluid play, or paraphilias of that nature,” she says.

Are rainbow kisses safe?

Aside from the fact that rainbow kisses might make you feel queasy if blood and/or semen is absolutely not your thing, any sexual act involving the exchange of bodily fluids poses some serious health risks if not managed correctly. But while one doctor simply advises “Pls, don’t ever do it” on a Twitter thread, there are ways to engage in a rainbow kiss safely. First and most important is testing for STIs.

“Semen and period blood can carry lots of different infectious particles, such as HIV, syphilis, and hepatitis,” says ob-gyn Heather Irobunda, MD. “If you are unsure of your partner’s STD status, you should not be sharing rainbow kisses.”

Hall says it’s not enough to get one or infrequent STI tests if you’re engaging in sex acts like rainbow kisses regularly.

“When I say tested, I mean not just one time but continually tested—every three to six months,” she says. “But if all partners are actively testing and they understand the boundaries and offer their consent, then it’s typically safe.”

Consent is critical for every sex act, but one involving the exchange of bodily fluids requires an additional level of understanding, she explains.

“[Rainbow kisses are] typically done among partners who take these safety precautions—they’re not done with a person on the street or a person on an app. It’s not a one-night stand kind of thing,” Hall explains. “There has to be some consent around what’s going on, there has to be safe words, limitations, and hard boundaries because of the disease and illness factors.”

How is a rainbow kiss performed?

Some reports suggest that a rainbow kiss is a happy accident that occurs when a person with a uterus coincidentally gets their period while their partner is performing cunnilingus. However, a little planning does go a long way.

For instance, it’s crucial that both partners be ready and willing to hold the respective blood and semen in their mouths after performing oral sex, in preparation for that magical kiss—which is something that might not happen if you’re not planning for it.

As Fima explains, “The trick is for you and your partner to finish at about the same time, so that neither of you has to hold the blood or semen in your mouth too long. You’ve really got to know your body and know your partner.” Basically, timing, communication, and consent discussed beforehand is key.

Hall adds that you should also refrain from brushing or flossing your teeth, which can create little cuts inside your mouth, before attempting any kind of unprotected oral sex, especially a rainbow kiss.

“If you have those micro-abrasions and you go down on someone and you come in contact with semen, bodily fluids, or blood, that is a way that HIV and hepatitis, and even chlamydia or gonorrhea, can be transmitted,” she says. Her pro tip to keep yourself safe? “Don’t brush your teeth, don’t floss first. Go down, do what you do, and then afterwards wash your mouth out with an antiseptic mouthwash before you brush.”

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Why are some people into it?

Sadie Allison, PhD and founder of TickleKitty.com, explains that giving a rainbow kiss a way for some people to enjoy period sex—an act that Hall says is becoming less and less taboo.

“It was once thought that it was ‘dirty’ or ‘unclean’ to have sex while you menstruate,” Hall explains. “But now we’re actually starting to see that there’s some benefits to having sex while you menstruate, like relieving stress or pain from headaches or menstrual cramps.”

Fima describes a rainbow kiss as “the pinnacle of showing comfort with and respect for your partner’s body and your own.”

Beyond the physical benefits, Hall acknowledges other elements of period sex that might appeal to folks with different fetishes and kinks. Some people enjoy blood play, she says, which can take a variety of forms of its own, whether it’s derived from a fetish for vampires, werewolves, and other mythical blood-thirsty creatures, or something else entirely. Blood play can involve light cutting of the skin or menstrual blood.

“Now, we’re not talking about cutting off an arm or bleeding out on the floor,” she jokes. “But coming into contact with the taste of it, the smell of it, that’s often what turns people on. Though, some people may use fake blood or stage blood. It all depends on the consent and boundaries of the partners.”

As for the rainbow kiss in particular, Allison adds, “Like the hundreds of other fetishes out there, this ‘unique’ activity is perfectly okay to do so long as it’s agreed upon by two consenting adults.” She also encourages couples performing the rainbow kiss to try using flavored lube to “add a new dimension to their sensory play.”

What else do I need to know before I engage in a rainbow kiss?

Hall emphasizes the importance of to taking precautions when performing any sex act with a new partner, especially if one or both of you is menstruating.” She also adds that it’s possible to perform cunnilingus on a menstruating person and not get blood in your mouth if you focus your attention on external stimulation, whether it’s on the clitoris, the mons pubis, or elsewhere.

As for limiting any potential mess, she says, “Try doing the act on dark color sheets or towels, or use latex or non-latex gloves if there happens to be some fingering going on.”

But overall, Hall says it’s important to “normalize people engaging in their fetishes and kinks of choice instead of having a knee-jerk reaction” that something is “gross” or “weird.” The shame perpetuated by judgment can create dangerous circumstances, she cautions.

“When we shame people, that’s how our activities become unsafe. We do them secretly, we don’t want to talk to our healthcare providers about them, we don’t want to go get tested,” she says. “If we’re open to more variations of sexual behavior, we can be safer.”

If you don’t want to try the rainbow kiss, that’s also totally fine. However, Hall emphasizes the importance of not yucking anybody else’s yum. “As long as no one is being harmed, everyone is giving their consent, there are no children involved, there are no animals involved, then do you,” she says. “Do what makes you happy.”

And if a rainbow kiss doesn’t make it onto your sexual bucket list, at least now all those viral TikToks should make a little more sense.

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