Most of us use tampons, pads, menstrual cups, or period pants when our periods arrive. But if you’ve heard more about free bleeding—using nothing during your period—you definitely have questions.
Free bleeding is precisely what it sounds like, but the subtleties are still unclear to those who haven’t experienced it.
What Is Free Bleeding?
When you don’t stop or collect your period blood, it’s free bleeding. Consequently, things may grow untidy (think daily underwear or outfit changes). Period panties like Thinx and period-proof running shorts may help you adjust to free bleeding. You should go period product-free if you’re going to free bleed.
Of course, free bleeding isn’t new. According to Jennifer Wider, M.D., author of The Savvy Woman Patient, ancient people believed menstrual blood was mystical. Sanitary belts and tampons were created in the late 19th century, according to Wider.
Recently, drummer Kiran Gandhi raced the 2015 London Marathon despite bleeding. “I raced with blood flowing down my legs for sisters who don’t have access to tampons and sisters who, despite cramps and discomfort, tuck it away and act like it doesn’t exist,” she said on her personal blog.
Not just Kiran. Some ladies free bleed to raise awareness of people without feminine hygiene products, while others do it to remove the stigma of period blood (and having a period at all). Some prefer not to use tampons or pads, and free bleeding is a very personal decision.
Is It Healthier To Just Let Things Flow?
According to Wider, eliminating tampons reduces the risk of toxic shock syndrome (TSS), a life-threatening condition that may occur if you leave one in too long. (Tip: Tampons should only be worn for eight hours). However, pads reduce that danger.
Free bleeding has no health advantages, although it may be more pleasant for women than using a tampon, pad, or menstrual cup. “Women who free bleed frequently describe it as freeing and believe that there is nothing they need to conceal or feel embarrassed of,” explains Wider. “A personal decision.”
What Does This Mean For Other Methods Of Period Wear?
Free bleeding is sometimes a protest against menstruation products. Although none of these goods are