Free bleeding. A protection-free period. Letting your flow just flow. But where does it go? Who does that? Is it hygienic? Yep, we’ve got a LOT of questions on this one. You want to know a little bit more too, amirite?
What does it actually mean?
Some women choose to go without protection during their period. So that’s no tampons, no sanitary pads, no cup… nothing. Nada. Zilch. Let’s just think about that for a minute. A normal period, with the normal amount of blood, but without any ways of collecting it.
Why might people choose to free bleed?
The idea of free bleeding can sound kind of shocking. Staying clean and keeping your period under wraps are really important for a lot of girls, so deciding to flow freely turns all of that upside down. But what if you want to make a statement?
We all know that being a woman is totally amazing, and some people believe that hiding periods as if they’re dirty secrets is like being ashamed of an important part of womanhood. By bleeding publicly and wearing stained clothes with pride, free bleeding is one way to shout from the rooftops that you love everything about being a girl.
It’s been used to protest politically, too. In the UK, we pay 5% ‘luxury’ (lol) tax on feminine hygiene products and see that as a totally unfair tax on women. Public free bleeding was used as part of the protest that saw the government agree to scrap this tax – and it worked! It’s due to be abolished next year.
Some women also choose to free bleed for health reasons. Most sanitary pads and tampons contain traces of chemicals and a small percentage of people find that they leave them feeling irritated and uncomfortable. Not using any protection at all can be the simplest way to get over these types of allergies. Some women reckon that free bleeding means they can wave buh-bye to cramps, too.
The average woman uses 11,000* tampons in her lifetime, and that means one heck of a lot of waste. One way to avoid adding to this menstrual mountain? Avoid tampons and pads altogether!
So, who actually does it IRL?
Anyone who has periods could give it a go, but it’s not super common. The poet Rupi Kaur published a photo essay about periods in 2009, featuring photos of herself bleeding through her tracky bums. In 2015, Kiran Ghandi ran the London marathon while bleeding. When her period started the night before, she decided that she didn’t want to worry about a tampon while she was running. She got a lot of attention (including criticism) from the press and on social media, and she wrote this blog post in response, explaining that she wants it to be OK for women to be open about their periods and not feel that they have to hide it.
What if I want to try it for real?
There are a couple of ways to try it out without, y’know, bleeding everywhere. You could only do it when you’re at home (sitting on an old towel, wearing dark clothes or special period underwear like Thinx).
Consider your average flow, too: a lucky lady with a light flow is going to find this a lot easier than someone who usually has to change their protection every couple of hours. Or you could just wait until towards the end of your period, when you’re not bleeding much at all, and you might find that your normal underwear can handle a couple of stains. Basically, if you wanna free bleed go for it and if you don’t fancy it, that’s fine too! You do you, girl.
It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome.