Following a recent poll over on Instagram it became clear many of you wanted to know more about free bleeding. I know what some of you may be thinking… free bleeding? Why?! Why would anyone want to free bleed when there is an array of products on offer to catch our flow? In an earlier blog post I explored the menstrual cup and how beneficial it is for many reasons (if you haven’t checked it out yet you can do so here), but now I want to talk about free bleeding.
Free bleeding is becoming increasingly popular for many different reasons, and there are many brands that are making it easier for us to choose that as an option by creating wonderful, comfortable and amazingly discreet period pants.
I am going to discuss the benefits of switching it up and allowing your flow to, well… flow freely!
WHAT IS FREE BLEEDING?
There might be some of you that are still unsure as to what free bleeding actually is, or what it entails. Well, it is exactly as it sounds.. removing menstrual products during your period. Now, some choose to wear their normal underwear and be open about their time of the month, but for others the pace of life, societal pressures and/or comfort means they opt for period pants. This keeps things dry and comfortable. Either way, no menstrual products are obstructing the flow of blood from the vagina during menstruation.
WHY FREE BLEED?
It may be hard for some to understand why. There is such a taboo around periods; often seen as dirty and unclean. The truth is, period blood is no dirtier than any other blood that leaves our bodies and in fact, it is full of stem cells and antibacterial hemoglobin peptides; which support the balance of the natural bacteria in the vagina. This is disrupted when we insert anything into our vagina, especially bleached products that absorb all the moisture in there, putting us at risk of infections or vaginal dryness.
In many cultures, the period is seen as sacred and rituals are held to celebrate this wonderful sign of fertility; a time where we regenerate, renew and release. For some, free bleeding is a way to tune into their body, to be intuitive and connect on another level. For others it is the best way to avoid any harmful chemicals coming into contact with the vagina and for a growing number of people, they don’t have a choice. One in ten cannot afford to buy sanitary products and during the pandemic, period poverty has surged in the UK with charities supplying six times the usual amount to people without access to period products. Some choose to free bleed to raise awareness of this.
“It would have been way too uncomfortable to worry about a tampon for 26.2 miles… I ran with blood dripping down my legs for sisters who don’t have access to tampons and sisters who, despite cramping and pain, hide it away and pretend like it doesn’t exist.”Kiran Gandhi, Musician
Well, if you opt for the au naturel approach its completely free (minus the cost of washing soiled underwear/clothing/bedding) but even if you invest in a pair of period pants, you are saving so much money in the long run. In your lifetime you spend just shy of £5k on sanitary products but you can pick up a pair of period pants for an average of £15-£25 (granted, you’ll probably have to purchase a few pairs to rotate, but regardless you’ll still be saving money over time) and they can be washed and reused again and again.
Which leads me onto the next benefit, free bleeding reduces your environmental impact. Disposable products have horrific effects on the planet, as you can probably imagine, by switching to reusable pants or ditching period products all together, you are doing your bit to alleviate that pressure on the earth.
Period pants are also super comfortable. They are slim-fitting, designed using textile technologies that wick away moisture, trap smells, absorb the flow & create a leak-resistant barrier. Unlike pads (that literally feel like a nappy; thick, uncomfortable and full of toxic materials and chemicals) you do not feel like you are wearing anything other than ordinary underwear. By free bleeding straight into perfectly designed pants, you feel clean and dry for the duration of your period whilst avoiding chemicals like rayon (a highly absorbent synthetic material used in tampons), which not only stops your flow and interferes with the natural journey of those wonderful antibacterial hemoglobin peptides I mentioned earlier, but also soaks up everything, including cervical fluids, altering the amount of fluid your vagina produces during the rest of your cycle. Free bleeding keeps usual secretions in place. You can wear period pants for up to 24 hours, depending on your flow and most pants hold an average fo 2-3 tampons worth of blood, which is just so convenient!
Finally, period underwear takes away any anxiety around leaking, forgetting to change or running out of sanitary products. As you are able to wear them for so long, it is easy to fit your period into your plans without the added worry. By allowing your period to flow you also eliminate the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), which is another anxiety we can all do without.
we menstruate and they see it as dirty. attention seeking. sick. a burden. as if this process is less normal than breathing. as if it is not a bridge between this universe and the last. as if this process is not love. labour. life. selfless and strikingly beautiful.Rupi Kaur
Hopefully that answers all your musings around free bleeding. If there is anything else you’d like to know, please leave a comment…